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Reading mail in plain text can be a blessed relief from complicated formatting, not to mention being quicker to open and more secure than HTML-heavy emails. Here’s how to use plain text as the default in Outlook.

Before we get into how to do this, it’s worth noting that plain text has benefits and drawbacks, both for the sender and the receiver. The main drawback of plain text is that it has no formatting and no inline functionality like images or links. Virtually all of the mail you read will look at least a bit different if you read it in plain text, and some mail will be almost unreadable if it’s been heavily formatted.

However, there are benefits, too. Plain text is more secure because nothing is hidden. There can be no embedded tracking images and no hidden phishing URLs (because if the URL is visible in plain text, you’ll be able to see the whole URL, rather than whatever text the sender wanted you to see). For this reason, plain text emails you send are less likely to be viewed as dangerous or malicious by automated scanners because plain text simply can’t be as dangerous as HTML. (This doesn’t mean someone can’t send you a malicious link in plain text, but it’s much more difficult to trick you into clicking it.)

With that in mind, here’s how to read all messages in plain text, send all messages in plain text, and send just an individual message in plain text.

Reading Mail in Plain Text

If you want to read all mail in plain text, head to File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings.

Go to Trust Centre, then Trust Centre Settings

Choose the Email Security option, and switch on the “Read all standard mail in plain text” option.

Click Email Security then switch on "Read all standard mail in plain text"

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