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

Email programs will often automatically include the text of the original in a reply, and format it slightly differently. Some use blue bars.

The blue vertical lines on the left side of an email, how do you get rid of them? Sometimes you can delete them & sometimes when you try to, the whole email disappears. They are just annoying & tacky looking. We never use to see them & now they are just about on everything!

The blue lines are your email program attempting to be helpful. Or, rather, the email program of whomever has sent you that message.

Most likely in reply to a message of yours.

When you reply to a message many email programs have the option of including the original message in the reply, so that the recipient can see just what it was you were replying to. Here's an example of my replying to the original message:

A reply including quoted text

As I said, this is an option in most mailers, and can normally be turned off so as not to quote the original at all. Some mailers will let you control what the quoting style should be, and some do not.

"It's controlled by the email program of the person doing the replying."

It's controlled by the email program of the person doing the replying.

Now, as to deleting it ... well, on the receiving end as you've seen it can be problematic. Sometimes the email program that created it will do so by using an HTML table, which is very easy to accidentally delete all at once. The silly work-around is to click within the quoted text and then delete pieces of it from within the table. Regardless, the blue line won't disappear until the entire table is gone anyway.

Yep, it's a bit of a mess, and I share your frustration. I do wish that mailers were a little more configurable and sane about how they create quoted replies.

There is one approach that is fairly universal, and universally easy to deal with.

Use plain text.

The blue line style is typically the result of a rich text or HTML formatted email reply. If, instead, the reply is in plain text, it'll look more like this:

Thanks for your question! I'll be getting to it soon.

Leo

> -- Question --
> I searched on your site first & there was two answers that came up &
> they did not pertain to what I want to know so I am asking you. I have
...

Since it is just plain text, you can edit it to your hearts desire. No, it's not as pretty as the original, but it is under your control.

But once again, this is all a side effect of replying, and it's all under the control of the email program used by the person doing the replying.

Article C3662 - February 27, 2009 « »

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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.

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20 Comments
Cindy Baalbergen
March 3, 2009 8:27 AM

Often I copy, paste the whole message into Word using 'paste unformatted text'. Then recopy/paste into a new e-mail message to send on. That seems to get rid of many things and allows you to edit to your heart's content. It only takes seconds to do. ~

Kitty A.
March 3, 2009 8:48 AM

I also highlight the body of the message and copy/paste directly into a new email. It doesn't copy the blue lines. I then put my own email address in the "To" field and put everyone I want to send it to in the "Bcc" field. This cleans up the email and removes all those addresses in one step.

Ross Guistino
March 3, 2009 9:01 AM

Your solution to reply in plain text is a good one, however, it does not address those emails with graphics in them. If you wish to forward said email to a friend, you can't forward it as plain text otherwise you'll lose the graphic.

Joe Read
March 3, 2009 9:01 AM

When I forward an email that has come to me with "the dreaded blue lines," I first click on "reply" which gives me an editable version, and then highlight the text and or graphics that I wish to forward. I then right-click and select "cut" -then right-click again and "Select All" and delete. Now I can paste back into the body of the email the part I cut, and the lines and any other artifacts are not there. Easy and fast to do.

Juli
March 3, 2009 9:12 AM

I use stripmail to clean up my emails before I send them on.

Jim
March 3, 2009 10:51 AM

Why don't you try this free download--it will clean up all of it:
http://www.papercut.com/emailStripper.htm

John Schneider
March 3, 2009 11:49 AM

Stripper, as Jim says above, is the way to go.

Bill Short
March 3, 2009 12:45 PM

On the reply or forward click Format\Plain Text and then Format\HTML (or Rich Text). The lines will be gone.

That assumes you have those options available in your mail program.
- Leo
04-Mar-2009

Syed Jalaluddin
March 4, 2009 3:16 AM

Hi Leo,
I have red the article, thanks for the info.
I would like to know " how to delete the mailer info while forwarding the same mail to others"?
For Eg: i have got the Animatted or some pictures mail with the fields " forwarded form jjjjj@com" , and at the end of mail "Thanks & regards XYZ". i want to replace this with my name.

Thaks and Regards,

Syed

Patsy Terrell
April 21, 2009 9:20 AM

Just save your document as a text file and it will delete the blue line. Then you can resave as a word document and it will be gone.

Mike Frerichs
November 18, 2009 9:04 PM

The blue lines have bugged me for a long time so I finally spent some time playing with them tonight and found an answer that, at least for me, is acceptable if not perfect. I use Outlook for e-mail and Word (2003) as my editor. I found that if I place my cursor somewhere in the text that has the blue line beside it and then, on the menu bar, click on Format, Borders and Shading, and then on the None box, the blue line will disappear. Each verticle blue line must be removed individually, so thats four mouse clicks per blue line - a little pain but not bad. I also found that sometimes, but not always, if I place the cursor too far down in a section it doesn't work. It always worked, though, if I placed the cursor within the first few lines of text near the top of a blue line.

Fiantella
December 14, 2009 9:19 AM

Another way is by deleting all the formatting. Using MS Outlook, Click on Format, Style and Formatting, on the right panel, click on Clear Formatting. This will clear formatting and leave the pictures.

Even
January 4, 2010 9:05 AM

There is a much simpler way..simply select the text you wish to forward then click forward and that will eliminate the lines.

That only works in a few email programs, certainly not all.
Leo
05-Jan-2010

Yep. Or remove the hard drive and install it on some other machine.
Leo
05-Jan-2010

Toone
January 6, 2010 5:23 PM

Removing blue forwarding lines:
1 - With received email open press forward button.
2 - With cursor anywhere then:
Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Del, Ctrl+V
3 - Lines are Gone.
(copy and paste excludes the lines)

PJK
May 12, 2010 3:11 AM

Toone's response of Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Del, Ctrl+V is the one that worked for me. Thanks, Toone.

praveen
May 28, 2010 11:02 AM


voyellaahhhhh..........its working....thank u so much....

Lorna
February 8, 2011 3:31 PM

Out of all of these, the only one that worked was by Joe Read at March 3, 2009 9:01 AM. Thank you.

Mike Frerichs
February 15, 2011 1:24 PM

Found another solution, on Martha's Web, that seems to work for me in Outlook 2003 using Word as the editor:
Click "Forward" to create an editable version of the e-mail.
Hover your mouse near the top of the leftmost blue line so that the table symbol appears.
Click on the table symbol - this will highlight all content in the table.
On the menu click Table | Convert | Table to Text...
In the popup window, make sure "Paragraph marks" and "Convert nested tables" are checked - these are the defaults on mine.
Click OK.
All other header stuff, and any little pieces of blue lines can now be deleted as you would any text.

Now having said that, the "Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Del, Ctrl+V" solution that others have posted here also works for me and is even easier. :-)

Thanks, everyone, for the solutions.

Diana
July 4, 2011 6:21 PM

Copying and pasting into a new email appears to work except pictures are lost.
How do you get rid of blue lines without losing the pictures in Outlook 2003?

The process outlined in the article does just that.
Leo
06-Jul-2011

Joat
July 9, 2011 12:49 PM

Blue lines are marking original quotes from forwarding or replying to messages.

They are really, in Outlook anyway, a
Border around text with only the left side of the border defined. Multiple ones are nested within each other and appear to be difficult to remove ... But Noooo

Assuming you are using Word as your Outlook editor (the default!!), you can remove them simply by selecting the portion of text highlighted by the blue line, Select FORMAT ==>BORDERS AND SHADING, and select NONE.

Note: You must select all of the text highlighted to make it work.

If there are multiple nested lines, select the leftmost one first, and work your way to the right.

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