Thunderbird - Temporarily Switch Composing Between Plain Text/HTML

Posted by Dan on Jun 20, 2005 @ 9:08 PM

Ok, so it's been a while since I've blogged anything useful—so I figure it's about time I do!

I've been using Thunderbird as my primary e-mail client for my new job. I figured I'd try making the switch away from Outlook to see how it goes. Overall there are a lot of things I really like about Thunderbird. It's definitely faster than Outlook and creating/sending e-mails definitely seems quicker. There are things I miss from Outlook—mainly the complete integration between tasks & e-mail. I've been using the Mozilla Calender project, but I'd like to see all the pieces integrated.

However, the biggest problem I've always had in every e-mail client I've used is that I hate, and I mean hate, HTML e-mail. I find it cumbersome and it's usually harder to read. It seems like everytime I get an e-mail in HTML there are several different fonts. I rarely get an HTML e-mail from someone that actually looks elegant. I also find creating inline responses (which is my preference) is much cleaner and easier to follow when done in Plain Text. That's why I always use Plain Text as my default send method.

The problem is, no matter how much I hate HTML e-mail, there are occassions when it's the best format for an e-mail. Up until today, everytime I've needed to format an HTML message and maintain it's formatting or when I've needed to create a new HTML e-mail, I've had to go into the Account Settings for my server and manually set the "Compose messages in HTML format" to enabled, create my message and then go in and disable the setting. It's a big pain. Anyway, today I found this nice little tip.

TIP: Thunderbird - Temporarily Switch Composing Between Plain Text/HTML

In order to temporarily switch your composing format for a message, hold the [SHIFT] key while clicking the "Write" (Compose) button.

If your default format is Plain Text, the message format will be in HTML format. If your default format is HTML, the message format will be in Plain Text format.

This is a pretty neat little trick! I'd still like to see someone create an extension that adds on-the-fly formatting, but at least this little tip will save me some time in the future.

Categories: JavaScript, Technology, HTML/ColdFusion, Flex/Flash, Java


  • You might find this knowledge base page on using plain text in Thunderbird helpful:
  • That's an awesome tip. I've been looking for that for a long time.
  • I'm glad I found this tip. Very helpful. I have to say that it seems like a very poor way for Thunderbird to implement this feature though.
  • Thanks dude for this helpful Thunderbird trick.

    I also would like to suggest using the "Send messages in both plain text and HTML" option in Preferences->Composition .. this way it should sent two versions of the text in the same email: one plain text and the other html.

    This is useful because this way thunderbird degrade HTML correctly to text, something which doubtfully wouldn't happen on the receiving client if textonly.

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