Always Send Plain Text to Certain Addresses in Outlook

A person's hands on a typewriter with paper showing the word news.

Gerd Altmann/Pixabay 

You can set up Outlook to always and automatically send plain text email to certain addresses.

Let Outlook Do the Remembering for You

Do you know somebody who prefers plain text email to rich HTML formatting and — with almost religious fervor — tries to convert you to sending your emails in plain text only from Outlook? Do you sometimes mail addresses that forward to devices which cannot display rich formatting? Do you want to satisfy both but still not give up your rich default formatting abilities and prefer not to remember to change the format each time?

In the Outlook address book, you can set specific email addresses to prefer plain text. Outlook will then automatically convert all messages to these addresses to plain text only — no matter the format you use to compose the message.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 and Office 365.

Always Send in Plain Text to Certain Email Addresses in Outlook

To make sure Outlook always sends emails in plain text to certain addresses:

  1. Select People (or Contacts, depending on your version of Outlook) in your Outlook's navigation pane.

    You can also press ​Ctrl-3.

    In Outlook versions up to 2007, you can also select Go > Contacts from the menu.

    Outlook inbox showing the default view with email.

    Please highlight People at the bottom of the page.

    Blur my email address on the email preview pane.

  2. ​Make sure Card or Business Card is selected under Current View on the Home ribbon.

    Outlook people view showing email addresses in the card format.

    Please highlight the Card view under the Current View group.

    Blur names on the contacts view.

  3. Locate and double-click the desired contact.

  4. Now double-click the email address that can receive plain text only in the top right section of the contact's General tab.

    You may have to click the down button next to the Email (or E-mail) field to select an alternate address.

    If you cannot open the # dialog with either the context menu or through double-clicking (with Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016 in particular, where the # will open), see below.

  5. Make sure Send Plain Text only is selected under Internet Format (or Internet format:).

  6. Click OK.

  7. Close the contact's window.

Force the 'Email Properties' Dialog for Addresses in Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016

To have Outlook always show the Email Properties dialog when you double-click a contact's email address:

  1. Close Outlook.

  2. Hit Windows-R in Windows.

  3. Type "regedit" (not including the quotation marks) under Open: in the Run dialog.

    Running regedit from the Run dialog box.
  4. Click OK.

  5. If prompted by User Account Control​:

    Click Yes under Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your PC?.

  6. For Outlook 2016:

    • Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­­Software\­­Microsoft\­­Office\­­16.0\­­Common\­­Contact card.
    Exploring the registry editor in Windows 10.

    Highlight the path in the address bar.

  7. For Outlook 2013:

    • Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­­Software\­­Microsoft\­­Office\­­15.0\­­Common\­­Contact card.
  8. If you do not see your Outlook version's key in the registry:

    • Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­­Software\­­Microsoft\­­Office\­­16.0\­­Common (Outlook 2016) or HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­­Software\­­Microsoft\­­Office\­­15.0\­­Common (Outlook 2013).
    • Select Edit > New > Key from the menu in Registry Editor.
    Creating a new key in the registry.
    • Type "Contactcard".
    • Hit Enter​.
    A new key has been created in Windows registry.

    Highlight the key Contactcard.

  9. Select Edit > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value from the menu.

    Creating a new DWORD within Windows 10 registry.
  10. Type "turnonlegacygaldialog" in the Name column.

    Windows registry showing a newly created DWORD labeled turnonlegacygaldialog.
  11. Hit Enter.

  12. Double-click the newly created turnonlegacygaldialog value.

  13. Enter "1" under Value data:.

    Windows 10 registry editing value data on a DWORD.
  14. Click OK.

  15. Close Registry Editor.