Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Plain text email is smaller, often easier to read, and more consistently displayed than rich text. Here's how to switch between the two in Hotmail.

I regularly send emails to a mailing list from my Hotmail account, but several folks on the list are upset because my mails are coming through as "rich text" or HTML. How do I get Hotmail to send my message as plain text?

Interestingly enough, the default for Hotmail appears to be plain text. But regardless, we'll look at where that option is hidden - and why in some cases it's not available at all.

Where it's hidden is easy. When you compose a new message in HotMail, click on the Tools menu and you should see something like this:

Hotmail Tools menu showing Rich-Text option

Note the option to turn the rich text editor on. Click on that, and you'll see a new set of controls appear over the message body:

Hotmail Rich-Text editing tools

"... plain text has no formatting ..."

These are the tools that allow you to apply rich text formatting such as bold, italics, font changes and so on to you email. If you click on the Tools menu now, you'll see that it's changes:

Hotmail Tools menu showing Rich-Text Off option

Click on Rich-Text Editor OFF and you'll get a warning about losing all your formatting (plain text has no formatting), and the rich text toolbar will disappear, and any email you've composed will revert to plain text.

But there's a catch.

If you run FireFox (and possibly other browsers), you may see this when you click on the Tools menu:

Hotmail Tools menu in FireFox

You'll note that the "Rich-Text" option doesn't appear. You are apparently stuck with plain text as your only option.

Article C2792 - September 21, 2006 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

January 15, 2007 4:40 PM

well how do i send a message in this page ,well mine in hotmail because it choes that i have a message but i cant read it or i cant even send a message

Steve Jensen
July 29, 2007 1:30 PM

Rich to plain text instructions please, for new hotmail live. I don't see a tools drop-down anywhere.

Leo A. Notenboom
July 30, 2007 8:37 AM

Hash: SHA1

To the best of my knowledge, when last I went looking for it, Hotmail Live does
not support plain text. No idea why.


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


October 4, 2007 4:20 AM

Hotmail live does have the option now.

when writing an email, just below the subject box, there is a link saying: "Show plain text"

Click on it and it will revert to plain text.

Alas, I cant find an option within Hotmail Live to make it the default option.

January 11, 2008 3:59 AM

How do i make hotmail page my own style

Leo A. Notenboom
January 13, 2008 11:23 AM

Hash: SHA1

You don't. The Hotmail page is what it is.


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.