Putting the text back into mail

I still read and write my mail messages in text.

That was all that was available when I first started to use Internet mail services back in 1992, almost exactly 28 years ago. Eight years later, when Microsoft released its Entourage mail client, I was delighted to discover that it would still handle my mail in text. When Microsoft replaced that by its awful Outlook, I eventually ended up using the free mail client Mailsmith, once a stablemate to BBEdit, which also worked entirely in text. Sadly, when that stopped working a couple of years ago, I was forced to migrate to Postbox, which is also text-based.

So why stick to text when most messages these days are marked up in HTML or Rich Text, with all sorts of links and content included in them?

That’s exactly why I prefer to stick to text. It gives me several valuable advantages:

  • it exposes all embedded URLs so that I can satisfy myself which are genuine;
  • other potentially malicious content, including embedded images, are left for me to decide whether to open;
  • messages with text laid out in excessive space are condensed to reveal just their content;
  • it makes reading messages far quicker.

Here are a couple of simple examples, first shown rendered normally, then in the text view which Postbox offers.


This HTML message from UPS looks pretty, but could be an imposter, and in any case I want to know where those links might take me.


All is in plain view when shown as text. You don’t have to hover the pointer over the links to try to work out where they take you: full URLs are displayed. I can copy and paste into Jeff Johnson’s Link Unshortener if I need to.


Here’s one of Apple’s beautifully-formatted messages which is largely white space. Why should I have to open it up in a larger window, or jiggle it about to read it?


In text view, I don’t: its content is there for me to read as I prefer.

Postbox isn’t free, although there’s a free trial, you can purchase a ‘perpetual’ licence, and it’s worth every penny/cent in the time and effort that it saves me, by putting the text back into mail.

Note: I have no affiliation with Postbox other than as a very happy user. I paid full price for it, and am delighted to have done so.