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

Sending a link in email isn't that difficult, but guaranteeing that everyone who gets it can just click on it is impossible.

I am having trouble discovering how to send a hyperlink in an email so that the email recipient can simply click on and open the hyperlink from the email message. Additionally, I'd like to be able to place hyperlinks in a word document so I can click on it and have it open from the word document.

You're asking a question that email newsletter publishers have been asking in frustration for a long time. The problem is that 90% of the time it's simple and it just works.

The other 10% of the time has us pulling our hair out.

The problem is that it all depends on the email program that's used to read the email.

The 90% Case

In plain-text formatted email, all you need to do most of the time is include the full URL in your email. For example:

Visit to get your tech questions answered.

Will, when displayed by most email clients automatically notice that there's a URL beginning with "http://" and make it clickable:

Visit to get your tech questions answered.
"The best we can hope for is to get it to work for most people."

In otherwords, you need do nothing special.

In HTML email most of the time all you need do is include the HTML for a link. So you might include in your HTML:

Visit <a href=""></a> to get your tech questions answered.

And the recipient of the email will usually see:

Visit to get your tech questions answered.

Now, the "caveat" here is that depending on what email program you are using to compose your email, you may or may not be able to enter the HTML directly as I've shown above. You'll need to check. In most cases if you can't edit the raw HTML, but the email program will provide an "insert link" function instead which will do the same thing.

The 10% Hair-loss Case

Everything I've described so far can fail for a number of reasons, all of which depend on the capabilities of your recipient. In other words it's nothing you have control over.

  • Some email programs don't automatically hight URLs in plain text emails, or users can turn off that feature.

  • Some email programs display HTML formatted email as plain text, turning off all of the features of HTML including links.

  • Some email programs disable clickable links from unknown sources. Adding the sender to the recipient's "trusted" list or address book can sometimes resolve this.

  • Some email programs react to a different delimiter to identify a link. For example, AOL was notorious for not recognizing "", but rather "<>". Unfortunately the later would not be recognized by other mail programs, so publishers often included both.

The list goes on.

There's no 100% solution. Someone, somewhere will not be able to "just click" on a link and have it work. The best we can hope for is to get it to work for most people.

The approach I use in my newsletter is three-fold:

  • Links are included in HTML.

  • Below the HTML link, the link is included again as if it were in plain text.

So a link to an article might look like this:

Read More: Internet Safety: How do I keep my computer safe on the internet?

I believe that puts me in the 95% bucket.

The "third" way is simply that folks who view my email newsletter in plain text get a different message altogether:

If you're seeing this, your email program is configured to view only
"plain text" emails, or prefer the "plain text" versions of email.

You can view this weeks newsletter either:

- by switching to an HTML view in your email program


- visiting which will have the
this week's newsletter, ready for you to view.

Needless to say when they visit the archived copy of the newsletter on the web, the links all work.

Article C3039 - May 29, 2007 « »

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?

June 1, 2007 11:20 PM

The way I have found around this is to add a character to the beginning of the address (such as a 1) and then paste the address. I add instructions to remove the 1 and then it works just fine, Just variation of the plain text but, I have it yet to fail. Just my 2 cents.

June 2, 2007 12:03 AM

Hello Leo,

You have a highly informative newsletter.

I have a question, I recently signed up for a windows live hotmail account and cannot understand why I cannot make a right click on the editing area so I can copy and paste a url or a link which I would like to send to a friend. What is also strange is that the icon where you are supposed to insert a link is greyed out, which means you cannot even insert a link using this facility!

I would appreciate your input.




Terry Hollett
June 2, 2007 4:49 AM

If you want to send a webpage link like yours you can open it in your browser and just right click on it and there should be an option to send the page link by mail.

I use Opera and right-clicking gives me the option 'Send Link by mail' which automatically opens up the integrated email client with th link formated as > . I guess how it comes out on the other end is always debatable.

June 2, 2007 11:50 AM


So, in the first plain text example, how did you prevent the HTTP URL string from being automatically converted into a clickable LINK by Outlook Express? And, why did you make me ask (you old tease?)

Carl Voelz
Avid Newsletter Reader

Leo A. Notenboom
June 2, 2007 12:14 PM

Hash: SHA1

This is a web page, not an email viewed in Outlook Express. So I just coded it
in HTML, and your web browser did what it was told.

Or am I missing something about your question.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


Zap Coffey-Brittain
June 2, 2007 3:42 PM

Here's my two pence worth.
If you use Outlook with Word as your email editor, right-clicking any section of your email (a word, sentence, embedded picture, whatever) gives an add Hyperlink... option - so you can add a hyperlink to anything.
You can't do this with Outlook's own HTML editor.
I know Leo will tell me using Word as email editor in Outlook is overkill but this very useful tool is one of the reasons I do.
Zap, Leeds, UK

George Arauz
June 3, 2007 9:52 AM

usually i just go to the top address bar, highlight it, copy it and paste it into the email

June 12, 2007 12:18 AM

Ow! I must have been half asleep. I apologize--thanks for replying and not kissing me off.


August 20, 2008 11:04 AM

please tell me how to send data by send link

November 30, 2010 11:57 PM

Hi Leo, I've got an article that might expand on this. If you want to email a hyperlink to a local file on your computer or a file on a network drive it can be a real pain. This brief post explains how to do it. More... >

Richy rich
October 27, 2011 12:27 PM

i am sending out numerous links and the people on the opposing end are not able to open it without copy and paste.

Mark J
October 27, 2011 2:42 PM

It could be a problem with the email program you use. Thunderbird generally does a good job in creating links from a url. Most webmails also do it automatically.

October 31, 2011 4:31 AM

Removing the Quotes will solve your problem ;)

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