Why HTML e-mails should be sent upon consultation only
email programs and web mail services are preconfigured to send everything
formatted in HTML, sometimes also called "rich text." This allows colours,
different fonts and also inserting images in the middle of the text. But:
- Not all recipients can read HTML-formatted emails. This is especially true
for mobile users, but also for many others. For instance, if you send an email
to a vessel which receives mails via satellite using an Inmarsat terminal, then
this will work with plain text only.
- Often HTML mails are sent even though the unformatted text does not require
it. The mail volume increases by a factor of 3 to 4 and thus causes higher
transfer cost for mobile or modem users who have to pay per data volume or
- The quality of HTML code created by email programs is often extremely poor
because - in contrary to the web - there is no real standard for it. The effect
is that different clients display such emails in a different way and often not
- HTML mails are often abused by newsletter senders and spammers to verify
your email address. For this purpose a reference to an on-line image is placed
in the HTML code. The image address (URL) includes a special code which is
unique for each recipient. Using the server log, the sender can easily check
who has when displayed the mail. This is also why many mail servers treat HTML
mails with a higher spam score than plain-text mails.
- These verified email addresses are then often offered via direct-marketing
companies since they are more valuable than non-verified addresses.
Furthermore, the sender can see which operating system and which email program
a recipient is using. In some cases this information might be even abused for
preparing a virus or trojan attack.
is executed on the recipient's PC. Known security holes of the mail program or
the operating system could be used to access local files, to infect them, or to
send information about them to a remote server. Since anti-virus programs are
able to identify a fraction of all malware, their usage is not sufficient.
Therefore many security-aware users have either disabled the reception of
HTML emails completely or add a spam score to them. For this reason, some email
clients and web mail services create mails which contain two alternative
formats, plain text and HTML, so that the plain text can still be read even if
the recipient does not allow HTML.
However, if an email is sent without a plain-text alternative, security-aware
users are more or less forced to block the mail completely or to delete it,
respectively. Often, though not always, the sender will then receive a bounce
mail with an error message like "HTML mails are blocked", saying that the
So send HTML emails only after this has been fixed explicitly with the
recipient. Of course the same is also true for mails with proprietary
attachment files which require that the recipient has installed a specific
program like Word, PowerPoint or Excel, which cannot be assumed automatically.
How to send a screen copy with a plain-text email
Many users create HTML mails only because they do not know how to send a
screen copy with a plain-text email. But this is really an easy job in Windows
and can be done in only three small steps.
- Press the "Print" key to copy the screen content to the clip board.
Alternatively, use ALT+Print to copy the active window only.
- Open your favourite graphics program (not a text program like Word!) and
insert the clip board into a new image.
- Save the image as a file (use GIF, PNG or JPG, not uncompressed BMP) and
add it to your email as an attachment. If your graphics program has a menu item
"Send" this makes it even easier.
Last, but not least: Do not forget to set the default email format to "plain
text" in your mail client. Sometimes it is also possible to configure HTML as
alternative format for selected recipients in the address book if really
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