How to Read Emails in Plain Text in Different Email Clients

While most email clients are capable of handling email in HTML format and will render your emails in HTML mode by default, there are times when you just want to read the emails in plain text, either because you have security concerns about the HTML formatted messages, or you want to check out how’s your newsletter renders in plain text. Here are the ways to read emails in plain text in different email clients.

Note: There are just too many email clients around and we won’t be able to cover them all. This article only focuses on Gmail, Outlook and Thunderbird. Yahoo doesn’t come with plain text mode.


In Gmail, there isn’t an explicit button for you to view your message in plain text. However, you can click the down arrow button beside “Reply” and select “Message text garbled?”. This will open a new window and display the email content in plain text.


This is what you will see.


In the new, there is also no way for you to view email in plain text. The only available way is via the “View Source” option.

In your email, click the “Actions” link and select “View message source”.


Scrolling through the source code, you should be able to see the email content in plain text.


Outlook 2003

To turn on the plain text option in Outlook 2003, go to “Tools -> Options -> Preferences”. In the E-mail area, click E-mail Option. In the Message handling area, select the “Read all standard mail in plain text” check box.

Outlook 2007

For Outlook 2007, the steps are slightly different. Go to “Tools -> Trust Center -> E-mail Security”. Under Read as Plain Text, select the “Read all standard mail in plain text” check box.

To include messages that are signed with a digital signature, click to select the Read all digitally signed mail in plain text check box.

Outlook 2010

In your Outlook, you have to first click the File tab, and go to Options in the sidebar. In the window that pop up, click “Trust Center” on the sidebar, followed by the “Trust Center Settings” button.


Click “E-mail Security” and select “Read all standard mail in plain text” check box.



In Thunderbird, all you have to do is to go to “View -> Message Body As” in the menu bar and select “Plain tex”. All your email will now appear in plain text.


That’s it.

Image credit: Inbox by BigStockPhoto


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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