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Force Apple Mail to Display Incoming Messages as Plain Text #

While Apple Mail has a menu option to compose new messages in plain text (Mail > Preferences > Composing > Composing: Message Format: Plain Text), it is not apparent how to force incoming messages to plain text. Perhaps you want to disable annoying services like DidTheyReadIt, or maybe you just prefer reading your mail without being assailed by emoticons, background images, flashing text, etc, etc. Here's how:
  1. Quit Mail if it is open
  2. Open Terminal and execute the following command:
    defaults write com.apple.mail PreferPlainText -bool TRUE
  3. Launch Mail. All mail will be opened as plain text. To view as Rich Text/HTML, just press the Command (Apple) key and ] (right bracket) - it will toggle between Rich Text/HTML and plain text.
  4. If you ever decide to switch back to the Apple default, run the command from step 2, replacing TRUE with FALSE.

UPDATE 1: This does not work if there is no plain text alternative (i.e., if the email is sent as HTML only). Unfortunately, there is no way I can find to force the initial rendering as "Raw Source".

UPDATE 2: Here is a workaround to force "Raw Source" display of one selected message without having to open it:
  1. If you haven't done so already, display the AppleScript Menu in the Menu Bar: Applications > AppleScript > AppleScript Utility > Check "Show Script Menu in menu bar" and "Show Library scripts"
  2. Highlight desired message in Apple Mail
  3. Click the AppleScript icon in the Menu Bar > Mail Scripts > Get Source of Selected Message
  4. A new message window will open with the complete raw source

/mac | Dec 17, 2006

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