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Stopping Outlook 2003 defaulting plain text emails to US-ASCii

Posted on 2006-07-20
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Whenever I receive emails in Outlook 2003 that are in plain text (Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ASCII according to the header info), Outlook displays the email using US-ASCII from the encoding options list.  This happens every time, and because I am in the UK some of the symbols get messed up.  This is particularly odd when I receive email from a UK address to my UK address in plain text.  Outlook presumes it's US-ASCii and then displays all the symbols incorrectly!

Is there any way for 'force' Outlook to default to something such as Western European encoding when displaying plain text emails?  I know I can manually set this for each email by doing View > Encoding > Western European, but that involves more hassle (opening first, then selecting for every email every time it's read!).
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Question by:Rouchie
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Expert Comment

by:war1
ID: 17147177
Greetings, Rouchie !

1. Outlook 2003 do not have many encoding options.  The following changes encoding for Outlook 2002. See if it applies to you:
On the Tools menu, click Options.
Click the Mail Format tab, and then click International Options.
In the Preferred encoding for outgoing messages list, select the one you want

2. If no joy, Outlook and Internet Explorer are closely tied together.  In IE, go to View -> Encoding, and see if Auto-Select is checked? If not, check it and see if it makes a difference (you may
need to restart OL to get hold of the change).

One more info: if Outlook is connected to an Exchange Server, it can be
configured to apply an encoding to incoming and outgoing messages. See
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb%3Ben-me%3B836586

Reference: http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.outlook.general/browse_thread/thread/1e5bc2dbe1a8475e/e1c64e81a2260ba%23e1c64e81a2260ba

Best wishes!
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by:Rouchie
ID: 17152049
Hi war1 - thanks for your post.

 1. This option is currently selected to Western European (ISO).  Above the drop down list however it states that the change will apply to outgoing messages and not the ones sat in the inbox!

 2. >> Outlook and Internet Explorer are closely tied together
 Shame really!  In IE I made the change, but Outlook didn't offer any improvement to it's current situation.  After googling the problem for some time, it would seem that the only solution (I can find) is to open every email individually, change the encoding option and then save it.  That's the official instruction from Microsoft themselves!  I'm pretty surprised by that - and would hope I've missed something!

My Outlook is not currently using an Exchange Server so I skipped that part.

I did however find this snippet in Outlook's help pages:
 >> With Internet Explorer 5.5 or later, Outlook evaluates the text in the message, automatically selects the encoding that can display all characters in the
 >> message, and then marks the message with that information. However, for some languages, more than one encoding can display its character set. In
 >> this case, Outlook uses the preferred encoding that's specified for your computer

So I checked the Regional Settings and that's all configured to English (UK).  There are no other languages set up.  In some other threads I read that it is a deliberate piece of functionality that the recipient cannot override the encoding by default.  Perhaps there is no fix solution after all...?!?
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war1 earned 300 total points
ID: 17155071
Rouchie, I cannot find any other setting in Outlook to change US-ASCII view.
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by:Rouchie
ID: 17159070
Hey no problem, thanks for the input anyway :-)
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