Description of plain text mode in Outlook Express in Windows XP Service Pack 2

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Article ID: 883257 - View products that this article applies to.
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SUMMARY

In Microsoft Windows XP, to help preserve the user's privacy and prevent virus attacks, Microsoft Outlook Express 6 blocks e-mail attachments that are considered unsafe and HTML content such as images. In Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), to prevent malicious scripts from running automatically, plain text mode is also turned on in Outlook Express.

INTRODUCTION

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What is plain text mode?

In Outlook Express, plain text mode lets users display incoming e-mail messages in plain text instead of in HTML. When Outlook Express runs in plain text mode, it uses the rich edit control instead of the MSHTML control. By using the rich edit control, you avoid any security issues that may result from using the MSHTML control.

Why use plain text mode?

The rich edit control provides an additional barrier to malicious code that is transmitted using e-mail. Computers that run earlier versions of Windows XP may be vulnerable to malicious code because Outlook Express processes HTML header scripts in the HTML content. The MSHTML control automatically runs these scripts. The rich edit control does not run HTML scripts. Because plain text e-mail messages do not require that HTML headers to be displayed correctly, there is typically almost no visible difference from this change. Parts of e-mail messages that do not appear to display correctly rely on HTML rendering and could present a danger to your computer.

What features are not available in plain text mode?

In Windows XP SP2, when you run Outlook Express in plain text mode, you cannot adjust the size of the message text, and you cannot perform a full-text search in the body of an e-mail message.

How do I use plain text mode in Outlook Express?

You can turn on plain text mode for reading all e-mail messages. You can also turn on plain text mode for sending new e-mail messages.

To turn on plain text mode for reading all e-mail messages, follow these steps:
  1. Start Outlook Express.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  3. On the Read tab, click to select the Read all messages in plain text check box.
  4. Click OK.
To turn on plain text mode for sending new e-mail messages, follow these steps:
  1. Start Outlook Express.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  3. On the Send tab, click Plain Text under Mail Sending Format.
  4. Click OK.

How do I switch between plain text mode and HTML?

If you trust the sender of an e-mail message and you want to use the additional features that HTML provides, you can switch to HTML mode. To do this, click Message in HTML on the View menu.

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Article ID: 883257 - Last Review: July 8, 2005 - Revision: 3.5
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 (SP2)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2 (SP2)
  • Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0
Keywords: 
kbinfo kbvirus kbsecurity kbconfig kbhowto KB883257

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