How to send Internet e-mail messages in an appropriate format in Exchange 2000 Server

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This step-by-step article describes how you can configure Internet e-mail messaging formats at both the user and the organizational level. For most organizations, e-mail messaging has become an increasingly important mode of communication. However, not all organizations use the same type of messaging systems. Therefore, issues can occur when users attempt to send a message to an external organization in an unsuitable format. Alternatively, organizations may want to use a specific format to communicate; to use features such as fonts and text color.

You can configure the settings to send Internet e-mail messages to external domains on two levels:
  • By the user
  • By the domain
The default settings enable users to send e-mail messages in any format that they want. However, your organization may have policies about sending e-mail messages in HTML or RTF format, and you may want to specify that all e-mail messages be sent as plain text.

Alternatively, you may have a partnership with another organization that is running Exchange 2000 Server and that can process these formats. In this scenario, you can configure a rule to deliver all e-mail messages to that domain by using RTF.


The following list outlines the recommended hardware, software, network infrastructure, and service packs that you need:
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Service Pack 2 (SP2)
  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 Service Pack 1 (SP1)
This article assumes that you are familiar with the following topics:
  • The Exchange 2000 Administrator console
  • E-mail messaging formats such as plain text, Rich Text Format (RTF) and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

How to Understand Messaging Formats

When you configure the delivery of e-mail messages to external domains, it is important that you understand the various methods by which that can be accomplished.

Plain Text

A plain text message is the most accepted form of messaging format. All e-mail message readers can display text messages in plain text format. The disadvantage is that the messages cannot display any colors, different fonts or emphasis such as bold or italic text.

Rich Text Format

Exchange 2000 uses RTF messaging for messages that are delivered between Microsoft Outlook users. RTF displays colors, fonts and formatting, but RTF is only readable by Outlook. Exchange 2000 Server RTF format is not the same as reading a file in RTF format in a word processor such as Microsoft Word.

NOTE: If the recipient receives a file attachment named Winmail.dat, you have an RTF incompatibility issue. You must configure a rule so that messages sent to that domain do not use RTF format.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) Format

HTML mail is a recent implementation that allows for the display of rich content in a message. It does this by sending the message as an HTML page, complete with tags to change the appearance of the text. The recipient's e-mail client program then formats and displays the HTML. The major issue with HTML text is that not all e-mail client programs support HTML text. If the HTML does not display correctly, the message can become unreadable.

Plain Text and HTML

Exchange 2000 Server has the ability to send messages to external domains as both plain text and HTML. The advantage is that this format displays correctly on both types of client. The disadvantage is that messages become twice as large and processing takes longer. It is also possible that you may view both the plain text and the HTML in the replies to the message. This behavior often occurs in discussion groups in which people have posted messages by using both plain text and HTML.

MIME and Uuencode

MIME and uuencode (user to user encoding) are two different methods of sending binary attachments with messages. Early e-mail client programs used uuencode as the default message format. However, virtually all current e-mail client programs support MIME. It is possible that you may have to communicate with a domain that continues to use uuencode. If that is the scenario, you can configure a rule to deliver messages to that domain by using that format.

Message Text Word Wrapping

Although not strictly an e-mail messaging format, some earlier versions of e-mail messaging clients require that a line break be placed after the seventy-sixth or seventy-seventh character. If you do not perform this procedure, those clients can only view the first 76 characters of each line. The result is that large portions of the message may be absent. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
823921 Line wrapping does not appear as expected when you send e-mail messages in Outlook 2003

How to Configure E-Mail Messaging Settings for All External Domains

You must configure the e-mail messages that you send to the majority of Internet domains by verifying the settings for the default Internet e-mail messaging format. To do so, perform the following steps:
  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Microsoft Exchange, and then click System Manager.
  2. In the left pane of Exchange System Manager, double-click to expand the Global Settings icon, and then click Internet Message Formats.
  3. In the right pane, you view an entry for Default.
  4. Double-click this Default entry and the Default Properties dialog box appears.NOTE: On the General tab, the SMTP domain for the default format is indicated as an asterisk (*). This is because this default entry sends e-mail messages to all Internet domains.
  5. Click the Message Format tab. You now have the option to configure Message Encoding.
  6. For most domains, use MIME for encoding and plain text for the message body.
  7. Click to select the Apply content settings to non-MAPI clients check box if you want users who are connecting with non-Outlook mail clients to use the same message encoding settings. Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) clients often use Outlook Express, which may send messages in HTML format. Forcing your non-MAPI clients to use plain text enables a message format conversion to occur on the Exchange Server computer. Note that very high levels of messages converted in this manner can generate a large processing load.
  8. Select an appropriate Character set for both MIME and non-MIME messages if you do not observe your correct character set selected. Note that if you select the wrong character set messages can be displayed incorrectly.
  9. Click the Advanced tab. You can now configure settings for RTF format messages. The default setting enables the users to choose, but you may want to enforce a plain-text only policy by selecting Never use.
  10. Select a suitable Message text word wrap setting and enter the column number where the word wrap should occur or maintain the settings as Never use.
  11. Click OK to accept the settings, and then close the Default Properties dialog box.

How to Configure Settings for a Domain Running Exchange 2000 Server

If you send a significant amount of e-mail messages to a domain that you know runs Exchange 2000 Server, then you can improve the appearance of your messages to that domain by re-enabling Exchange 2000 Server RTF. To do so, perform the following steps:
  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Microsoft Exchange, and then click System Manager.
  2. In the left pane of Exchange System Manager, double-click to expand the Global Settings icon, and then click Internet Message Formats.
  3. Right-click Internet Message Formats, point to New, and then click Domain.
  4. Enter a descriptive name for the object such as Mail to Example, and then type the SMTP domain for example,
  5. Click the Message Format tab. Click MIME, and then click Provide message body as Plain Text.
  6. Ensure that the Apply content settings to non-MAPI clients check box is not selected.
  7. Select an appropriate character set for both MIME and Non-MIME messages. Typically, either of the following:
    • US ASCII
    • Western European (ISO-8859-1)
  8. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Always Use.

    NOTE: The Message text word wrap setting remains as Never use.
  9. Click OK to accept the settings, and then close the DomainName Properties dialog box.
You can configure more domains by using different settings, as you require them.

How to Confirm That Your Internet E-mail Message Settings Function

To verify that your Internet e-mail message settings function, send e-mail messages to external recipients and verify that they can receive and view the messages correctly. When the recipients reply, their messages should also be displayed correctly.

If you send and receive messages from the domain that runs Exchange 2000 Server, then the messages sent and received to that domain should preserve formatting such as colors and fonts.


The major issue with sending Internet e-mail messages occurs with mail clients that cannot interpret RTF or HTML formatted messages. To resolve this issue, either create a separate rule for that domain or change the default format to plain text.


For more information about how to configure Internet e-mail messaging formats in Exchange 2000, refer to the Exchange 2000 Server Resource Kit and Exchange 2000 Server Help.


Article ID: 319252 - Last Review: May 14, 2008 - Revision: 2.0
  • Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server Standard Edition
kbhowtomaster KB319252

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