Always Send Plain Text to Certain Addresses in Outlook

What to do when the email recipient's device can't display rich formatting

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Gerd Altmann/Pixabay 

If there are contacts in your address book who prefer plain text email over rich HTML formatting, you don't have to send your emails in plain text when using Outlook. In the Outlook address book, set specific email addresses to prefer plain text. Outlook automatically converts messages to these addresses to plain text no matter what format you use to compose the message.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007; and Outlook for 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. Go to the Outlook Navigation pane and select People or Contacts (depending on the version of Outlook you use). Or press ​Ctrl+3. In Outlook 2007, select Go > Contacts.

    Outlook inbox showing the default view with email.
  2. ​Go to Home and, in the Current View group, select either Card or Business Card.

    Outlook people view showing email addresses in the card format.
  3. Locate and double-click the desired contact.

  4. Select the Email dropdown arrow and choose the email address you want to set to plain text.

  5. In the upper-right corner, double-click the email address that should receive plain text messages.

    Showing a contact details in Outlook.
  6. In the Email Properties dialog box, select the Internet format dropdown arrow and choose Send Plain Text only.

    If the Edit Business Card dialog box opens, you'll need to make a change to the Windows Registry to access the Email Properties dialog box.

    Outlook email properties for an individual contact.
  7. Select OK.

  8. Close the contact window.

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

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

  1. Close Outlook.

  2. In Windows, press Windows+R.

  3. In the Run dialog box, type regedit.

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

  5. If prompted by User Account Control​, select Yes 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\­­Contactcard

    For Outlook 2013, go to:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­­Software\­­Microsoft\­­Office\­­15.0\­­Common\­­Contactcard
    Exploring the registry editor in Windows 10.
  7. If the Contactcard key exists in the registry, go to step 12. If you do not see the Outlook version key in the registry, you'll need to create a new key.

    For Outlook 2016, go to:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­­Software\­­Microsoft\­­Office\­­16.0\­­Common

    For Outlook 2013, go to:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­­Software\­­Microsoft\­­Office\­­15.0\­­Common
  8. Go to Edit and select New > Key.

    Creating a new key in the registry.
  9. Type Contactcard and press Enter.

    A new key has been created in Windows registry.
  10. Go to Edit and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.

    Creating a new DWORD within Windows 10 registry.
  11. In the Name column, type turnonlegacygaldialog and press Enter.

    Windows registry showing a newly created DWORD labeled turnonlegacygaldialog.
  12. Double-click the turnonlegacygaldialog value.

  13. In the Value data text box, enter 1.

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

  15. Close the Registry Editor. You can now follow the instructions to set the sender to receive plain text emails.