How to Display Plain Text Email Messages in Mozilla Thunderbird

Receive emails without HTML formatting

Mozilla Thunderbird is a free, cross-platform email client that's easy to customize. It lets senders use HTML formatting to customize messages with various fonts, colors, and other word processing options. But many users would rather receive emails in plain text format, preferring a clean interface. Plain text is safer because it's limited to a small set of characters. HTML email poses security risks because maliciously modified objects can be included.

Here's how to set up Mozilla Thunderbird to display incoming emails as plain text.

These instructions apply to current versions of Thunderbird.

Display Messages in Plain Text Only

To configure Mozilla Thunderbird to display emails as plain text:

  1. Open Thunderbird.

  2. Select View.

  3. Select Message Body As.

  4. Select Plain Text. You'll now see all incoming emails displayed in plain text format.

    Mozilla Thunderbird Plain Text setting

    Thunderbird may enhance plain text messages with certain text formatting features such as bold, italic, and underlined text.

Send Messages in Plain Text

You may also want to send your email messages in plain text for security reasons, to be considerate of recipients' preferences, or because some users can't receive HTML messages.

To compose emails in plain text:

  1. Open Thunderbird.

  2. Select Tools on the top menu.

  3. Select Account Options.

  4. Select Composition and Addressing.

    Account Actions in Thunderbird
  5. Clear the Compose messages in HTML format check box.

    Thunderbird account actions to set email to plain text
  6. Select OK. Now, all messages you compose and send will be in plain text format.