How to Send a Message in Plain Text with Mac OS X Mail

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Just text. ©Blake Burkhart; CC BY 2.0 license

By default, Mac OS X Mail sends messages using Rich Text Format. This means you can use custom fonts and bold face or insert pictures inline in your emails.

The Dangers of Rich Text

Using Rich Text Format can also mean that the recipients do not see all this formatting fancy, though, and have to decipher your messages from a lot of funny (strange) characters.

Fortunately, this unfortunate situation is easy to avoid in Mac OS X Mail: make sure a message is sent in plain text only—certain to be displayed properly in every email program for every recipient.

Send a Message in Plain Text with Mac OS X Mail

To send an email using but plain text from Mac OS X Mail:

  1. Compose the message as usual in Mac OS X Mail.
  2. Before clicking Send, select​ Format | Make Plain Text from the menu.
    • If you cannot find this menu item (but Format | Make Rich Text instead), your message is already in plain text and you don't need to change anything.
  3. If an Alert pops up, click OK.

Make Plain Text Your Default

If you find you send plain text emails frequently in Mac OS X Mail, you can avoid switching to plain text each time and make it the default instead.

To send plain text messages by default in Mac OS X Mail:

  1. Select Mail | Preferences… from the Mac OS X Mail menu.
  2. Go to the Composing category.
  3. Make sure Plain Text is selected from the Message Format (or Format) drop-down menu.
  4. Close the Composing preferences dialog.

(Tested with Mac OS X Mail 1.2, Mac OS X Mail 3 and MacOS Mail 10)