How to Change the Default Font in the Mac's Mail Program

Choose your favorite font and size for emails

What to Know

  • To change the default font go to Mail > Preferences > Fonts & Colors > Message font and make a selection.
  • To change the font in a single message, highlight the text and select options on the formatting bar. 

This article explains how to choose a default font for both reading plain text and composing emails, and choose a default size in Apple's Mail application on Macs running macOS 10.15 Catalina through macOS Sierra (10.12).

Change the Default Mac Mail Font

To specify a default font face and size for composing and reading mail in the Mac macOS Mail application:

  1. Launch the Mail application and select Mail > Preferences from the menu bar.

    Path to Mail Preferences on Mac
  2. Select the Fonts & Colors tab in the preferences screen.

    Fonts & Colors preferences tab in Mac Mail preferences
  3. Next to Message font, click Select.

    Fonts & Colors preferences screen for Mac Mail
  4. In the Fonts screen that opens, select the desired font in the Family column. Choose a variant in the Typeface column and pick a font size in the Size column.

    Fonts screen in Mac Mail preferences showing font options
  5. Close the Fonts window.

  6. Click the Composing tab in the preferences screen.

    Composing preferences for Mac Mail
  7. In the Composing section, confirm that Rich Text is selected next to Message Format. Select it if it is not chosen.

    Composing screen with Rich Text selected for Message Format

    Optionally, in the Responding section, check Use the same message format as the original message. When people send you plain text messages, your replies are in plain text as well. Your default font is not used.

    Force Mail to always use rich-text formatting on the Composing tab by unchecking Use the same message format as the original message.

  8. Close the preferences window.

Changing a Mail Font on the Fly

Even if you establish a default font you want to use when composing emails, occasions may arise when you prefer using a different font for all or part of the email.

Type the email text and then highlight the part of the text you want to change. Format the selected text by selecting a font, size, color, or other attributes from the formatting bar at the top of the screen.

Changing fonts in Mac Mail emails

Formatting changes are only available for the email message body, not for the To, From, and other header fields.

What Makes a Good Font for Email?

A good font for email is one that renders texts that are legible on any screen—a large monitor, tablet, phone, or watch. Typical font families that accomplish this are sans-serif fonts with little ambiguity between characters and ample height for small characters (x-height).

Classics Verdana, Helvetica, and Arial are fonts that encompass these features and are almost universally available. Choose the size that makes your text big enough to be easily legible. Fonts between 11 and 13 points in size are typically suitable sizes for email.

How the font displays on the recipient's display depends on the recipient's screen makeup and resolution. If they have size problems, they can enlarge the email type on a case-by-case basis or use assistive technology to increase the font's display size permanently if necessary.

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