Converting HTML to Plain Text


K

Ken Blake, MVP

Outlook 2013 has the option of converting incoming mail to plain text.
But it's all messages or none. What I would like is to be able to turn
that option on, and also maintain a list of e-mail addresses and
domains that would be exceptions to the rule, and be left as html.

Does anyone if an addin that does that, or something similar, exists?
 
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V

VanguardLH

Outlook 2013 has the option of converting incoming mail to plain text.
But it's all messages or none. What I would like is to be able to
turn that option on, and also maintain a list of e-mail addresses and
domains that would be exceptions to the rule, and be left as html.

Does anyone if an addin that does that, or something similar, exists?
When ending e-mails, the sender should include both a text/plain MIME
part and a text/HTML MIME part. That is, an HTML-formatted e-mail
should contain both text and HTML versions of the e-mail. Alas, many
users employ e-mail clients that only include the HTML MIME part or they
leave or deliberately configure their e-mail client to not include the
plain text MIME part in their e-mails. As a result, anyone receiving
their e-mails that uses a non-HTML capable client may have problems
reading their e-mails; i.e., the recipient only gets to see the HTML
garbage version (not rendered as HTML but all the text for HTML,
including the HTML tags). Without the plain text MIME part, the client
either has no way to show a plain text version (it only has the HTML
MIME part to work with) or it has to guess on how to make the HTML MIME
part look like a plain text version.

If you configure Outlook to "show only as plain text" and receive an
e-mail that only has an HTML MIME part (no text/plain MIME part), what
does Outlook do with that e-mail to display it? Does it show you all
the HTML code (since HTML is all text) or does it try to simulate a
plain text version, like stripping out all the HTML code to leave behind
just the text strings?

I haven't seen a quick toggle to switch between text and HTML view modes
in the preview pane for a selected message. Would be a nice option.
The closest that I've come while still leaving Outlook configured to
render HTML-formatted e-mails is to use the Auto-Preview mode. It was
available in prior versions and is still available in OL2013. Under the
View tab in the ribbon bar, click on "Message Preview" and select to see
the first 1, 2, or 3 lines of each e-mail. This is shown in the headers
list pane and as plain text. You can decide whether or not to leave the
Preview Pane (aka Reading Pane) left open or not. You could, for
example, hide the reading pane and just rely on the first 3 plain text
lines shown for each e-mail to decide whether you want to open it (in
its own window) to read it or delete it without further reading. The
Auto-Preview (aka Message Preview) mode can eliminate the need for the
reading pane. You double-click only on those e-mails that you want to
more fully read based on the 1 to 3 line plain text preview of them.

Otherwise, the only add-on that I know of and have used in the past was
Pocketknife Peek (http://www.xintercept.com/peek/pkpeek.htm). You can
look at a plain text version of the e-mail or even look at its HTML code
(a lot easier than than opening an e-mail in its own window, use File ->
Info -> Properties, and look in the tiny Internet headers box provided
you did the registry hack to not just show headers but also show the
body). Instead of toggling the rendering per e-mail to see a plain text
version, you click the Peek toolbar button and choose which view you
want to use in the Pocketknife Peek app that pops open.

Alas, Pocketknife Peek is ONLY available as a 32-bit add-on. This means
it won't register and is not usable with my MS Office 2013 64-bit
install; i.e., 32-bit add-ons are not usable in Outlook 2013 64-bit.
That's why I did the registry hack to let me see more than just the
headers under the File -> Properties, Internet headers box (available
after opening a message in its own window). I may want to look at the
HTML code for a message or look at the text/plain MIME part.

http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/email/view-the-message-source-in-outlook/

Otherwise, it looks like you switch to plain text view (the default view
for all e-mails) and then use the infobar for a specific message to
switch to HTML view (if you want to see the HTML rendered view). See:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/read-email-messages-in-plain-text-HP010356474.aspx
(varies slightly for OL2013)

After configuring OL2013 to display (all) e-mails in plain text, I
selected an e-mail that had both text/plain and text/HTML MIME parts.
The infobar shows up in the preview pane (in the main GUI or when the
e-mail is opened in its own window) saying:

"(i) We converted this message into plain text format.

Left- or right-click on the info bar and there is a "Display as HTML"
option. So you could have Outlook default to showing all e-mails as
plain text but decide on individual e-mails if you wanted to see them in
HTML format. Note that Outlook's "conversion" is not to merely show the
text/plain MIME part (i.e., the part with only the plain text version,
if included by the sender) but instead converts the HTML MIME part into
plain text. For example, I received an e-mail with a text/plain MIME
part that had just a couple lines. The HTML MIME part was huge and that
is what Outlook converted to text. So you still don't get to see only
the text/plain MIME part in the message (and why Pocketknife Peek or the
hack to include the body in the Internet Headers box when looking at the
properties of a message is still needed). Outlook always focuses on the
text/HTML MIME part, if it exists, whether using HTML or plain text as
the default rendering mode. When you choose to view as HTML by default,
the infobar does NOT give you a "Display as plain text" option. Even if
you open the message in its own window and use Actions -> Other -> View
Source, Outlook shows you its rendered HTML MIME part, not the
text/plain MIME part. Microsoft is infatuated with HTML for e-mail.
What it saves in its message store does not contain the raw source of an
e-mail, something that is available in every other e-mail program
(unless you do the registry hack to have Outlook save all MIME parts
along with its record of the headers).

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2013_release-outlook/reply-in-plain-text/7c7d970e-7e58-4d75-aac6-4ac9f22a0eee

That's only when you want to reply in plain text but have the text-only
features available, like ">" for indented quoting. It doesn't seem to
address your inquiry on how to *read* in plain text just some e-mails
and read in HTML the other e-mails. Other than the 32-bit-only
Pocketknife Peek add-on, the registry hack to get all MIME parts stored
along with Internet headers, or configuring Outlook to always default to
the plain text view and then using the infobar to toggle to the HTML
view on a per-message basis (i.e., the infobar clues you in that there
is an HTML version), I haven't heard or found an add-on that does what
you asked. I'd like to know about one, too.
 
K

Ken Blake, MVP

Otherwise, the only add-on that I know of and have used in the past was
Pocketknife Peek (http://www.xintercept.com/peek/pkpeek.htm).

I used Pocketknife Peek for a while in the past, but to tell the
truth I can't remember what I found unsatisfactory about it and why I
got rid of it.

Otherwise, it looks like you switch to plain text view (the default view
for all e-mails) and then use the infobar for a specific message to
switch to HTML view (if you want to see the HTML rendered view).

Yes, that's what I've been doing.

I haven't heard or found an add-on that does what
you asked. I'd like to know about one, too.

Maybe someone who write one one of these days. I hope so.

Thanks very much for the long, informative reply.
 
V

VanguardLH

I used Pocketknife Peek for a while in the past, but to tell the
truth I can't remember what I found unsatisfactory about it and why I
got rid of it.
I did have a problem in an older version of Peek (back when I used
Outlook 2003 which was only available as a 32-bit application) where it
would cease to function. I'd have to exit and reload Outlook to get it
back; else, clicking on its toolbar button did nothing (the GUI for Peek
wouldn't show up). I reported this to the author and worked back and
forth for something like a month for him to figure out the problem and
fix it in a new version. He couldn't afford to setup every possible
environment in which to test Peek so he would have to make a change and
then have me test it out in my setup. I think it took only 2 changes
for him to fix that problem.

It wasn't the most elegant solution and definitely did not have the
appearance of an inbuilt function or enhancement to Outlook. Clicking
its toolbar button merely loaded the current message into the Peek
application that ran outside of Outlook. Think of this as the "News"
button in old Outlook that was merely a shortcut in the menus to load
the separate Outlook Express program.
 
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K

Ken Blake, MVP

I did have a problem in an older version of Peek (back when I used
Outlook 2003 which was only available as a 32-bit application) where it
would cease to function.


Sad to say that I can remember nothing about it except its name. It
must have been quite a while ago.
 

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