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Outlook 2007: How can I tell what email format was used for an email I sent?

Posted on 2012-04-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-03
I use Outlook 2007 to send outgoing faxes via greenfax.com.  I type in the recipient fax# in the "To:" box (i.e. "<recipient fax#>@greenfax.com").

A one-off email address such as this (i.e. it is not in my address book) seems to default to "Let Outlook decide the best sending format"; the default sending format is "HTML" (Tools, Options, Mail Format, Message format)

Recent emails I sent to greenfax to fax have ignored pdf attachments.  According to greenfax customer service, it seems Outlook is converting the attachment to a winmail.dat file.  But this was not the case months ago.

My question: how can I tell what format Outlook used to send an email?  i.e. I want to examine an email I sent months ago which is stored in my "Sent Items" folder to know how Outlook formated the email.

I am using Outlook SMTP, not Exchange.
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Question by:SAbboushi
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839067
The winmail.dat file usually is a representation of sending the email in Rich Text, which I believe is Outlook 2007's default option.  Track down the file that you had sent in the Sent Items folder and open that message.  Right-click anywhere in the body of the message and choose View Source.  If you see HTML code, then it's in HTML format.  If there is no code, then it's most likely plain text, and otherwise it would be Rich Text.
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839086
Also, when receiving a message from someone else, generally Outlook will create the Reply message using the same format as the original sender.  Meaning even though you may have chosen HTML as your default format, if someone sent you a message in Rich Text and you Reply to that message, it will be in Rich Text.  Make sure when replying that you have the correct format chosen before sending the message.
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by:Anuroopsundd
ID: 37839090
go to sent items.. open the mail that you have already send

you will see Actions button..
click it..-> other Actions-> View source.. ----- this is HTML mail
or
click it..-> View in browser -................HTML mail

if you do not see above options.. then it was rich text or plain text...
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37839372
I wonder if the sending format is on a per recipient basis instead of a per email basis.  I say this because:

I sent 2 identical emails with the attachment.

1st email: double-clicked on recipient address before sending and confirmed it was set to "Let Outlook decide the best sending format".  Since my default sending format is "HTML", I suspect that the email was sent in HTML.  greenfax.com ignored the attachment

2nd email: double-clicked on recipient address before sending and changed 'Internet format:' to "Send Plain Text only".  greenfax.com processed the attachment correctly.

For both emails in my 'Sent Items' folder, the "view source" shows HTML code (which makes sense to me since HTML is the default option for newly created emails as evidenced by Options, Format in a newly created email before I send it).  It seems that there is a difference between the format in which the email is created and that in which it is sent.

It therefore seems that I am looking for the "Internet format" used on a per recipient basis which makes me wonder whether this is stored in the Recipients collection (i.e. not accessible through UI so have to use OutlookSpy or vba to access)?
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839530
Are you creating a brand new message, or are you replying to a message?  In Outlook > Tools > Options > Mail Format tab, there's a button called Internet Format.  Is that what you're talking about?  If so, that will convert a Rich Text document to HTML when sending out.  Now that wouldn't matter too much except that Rich Text stores its formatting in the winmail.dat attachment.  Being that you're converting, it's only converting the body of the message.  The rest (including the attachment) would still be within that winmail.dat file (which only Exchange server understands).  My suggestion would be to make sure you're sending only in Plain Text to greenfax.  Either that, or create a brand new message that should be in HTML format, if that's what you have chosen as your default format.  By the way, when attaching a document to a Rich Text format message, you'll actually see the attachment show up in the body of the message.  If it's in Plain Text or HTML, you'll see a new field below the Subject line that shows the attachment.  Just an FYI.
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37839560
Thanks for your help--

I am referring only to brand new messages.  Created in html, sent in html as far as I understand.  I don't see anywhere that RTF is involved in this case, do you?
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839575
Doesn't sound like it.  I'm not sure where they'd be getting the winmail.dat attachment in that case.  Easy answer is to use Plain Text for these particular emails.  I know that doesn't help much if you have a large user base.  Means a lot of training.  ;-)

I'll see what else I can come up with and respond back again in a few...
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839585
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839596
You may also try deleting the .NK2 file from your Windows profile.  Keep in mind that will remove your nickname cache though, so previously sent to email addresses won't auto-populate right away.  It'll take some time to build it back up.
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37839621
Thanks - I appreciate the help -- my question though is: How can I tell what email format was used for an email I sent?  ; )

See my comments above- I suspect the internet format on a per user basis is stored in the recipient collection of the email.

PS - there is a registry dWord I can add that will absolutely prevent TNEF encoding -- but this is not the direction I wish to take -- I believe the problem is on the recipient side in decoding the html.
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839657
The original question is easy to answer.  That goes back to the original post.  If the View Source option is grayed out then it's Rich Text.  Plain Text and HTML is obvious as well once you hit View Source.  If you see HTML tags, it's HTML.  You would need to look at the email in Sent Items.  

And yes.  For most contacts HTML (or your default) would be used for a format.  However, some individual contacts can have it set specifically to Rich Text or some other format as well.  That's mentioned in that link I provided above.  

It's possible they're decoding the HTML incorrectly on their side.  Or they could be converting to Rich Text, but then they'd be hearing about this from all of their customers.  The winmail.dat file is only representative of RTF, or the TNEF encoding you mentioned.  HTML is basically a Plain Text email with HTML tags.  So you wouldn't see the winmail.dat file.
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37839797
>> The original question is easy to answer.  That goes back to the original post.  If the View Source option is grayed out then it's Rich Text.  Plain Text and HTML is obvious as well once you hit View Source.  If you see HTML tags, it's HTML.  You would need to look at the email in Sent Items.  

Thanks for your time.  As I explained above, I believe that the "View Source" only shows the format in which the email was CREATED which I believe to be unrelated to the format it which it is actually sent.  Hence my ability to create an email in html and set the recipient address so that the email is sent in plain text or rtf.  The email would still show as html in "view source" in my sent folder, but the recipient recieves it in plain text or rtf, whichever I set for the recipient email address.  Am I making any sense here?
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37839848
Ah, I see what you're asking.  The conversion should happen when it's sent (while in the Outbox).  A copy of the sent email is placed in your Sent Items folder after the item is sent.  Meaning, the Sent Items folder should have the same copy as what the customer receives.  Hmmm...let me verify this though.
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37839905
If I create an html email and send it to 2 recipients where one is set for plain text and the other for rtf, I believe the email in my send folder is still stored only in html.  It seems to me there must be a setting somewhere that tells me what was used for each recipient.

The "setting" for the recipient email address is not useful because it can be "let Outlook decide"; so I need a setting that has recorded what Outlook actually used for the internet format.  Hence my believe it is stored in the recipient collection.  I couldn't find it though in the application item object, so maybe I have to use PropertyAccessor...?
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37840013
Hmm...I'm not sure how to look at a previous mail sent in that fashion.  I know you can see that on an Exchange server, but you said that you're not using Exchange.  However, for the future, under the Internet Format button, if you have that set to "Convert to HTML Format" when sending Rich Text, any specific recipient configured to Rich Text would have the email sent as HTML.  They may still receive the winmail.dat file though.  The conversion definitely isn't perfect.  I haven't tested this, but I wouldn't be surprised if the winmail.dat file still existed even if you convert to Plain Text.  

I would make sure to change all recipients to a format other than Rich Text.  I'll look around to see if I can find an easy way to do so (through script, etc.).  I'll have to get back to you about your past sends...
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37840047
Thanks - I appreciate your offer but please don't waste your time... NOTHING is set to RTF ; )
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37840059
Anyone else know where Outlook stores the internet format used for a sent email (I assume it must be on a per recipient basis)?
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by:Minoru7
ID: 37840074
I'm really sorry I can't help you further, but it looks like unless you have access to the SMTP server, you're not going to be able to see the actual format in which it was sent.  If they are suggesting they got the winmail.dat file, then at that moment in time they were receiving an RTF.  Unfortunately, it can't be verified without access to the server logs themselves.  Sorry buddy!  Good luck!
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37840105
Thanks for all your help.  They sent me the log which confirms tnef/winmail.dat

The relevant portion is:
------=_NextPart_000_0001_01CD189F.ECA40010
Content-Type: application/ms-tnef;
      name="winmail.dat"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Disposition: attachment;
      filename="winmail.dat"

AHA!  Silly boy (me) - this is the logs from the recipient server.  Let me call the people who handle my mail services and see if I can get the log from them for the sent email!
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Minoru7 earned 500 total points
ID: 37840365
That would be best.  I seriously doubt you'll find the information on your computer.  Other than the preferences files in your Windows profile, you'll find the offline address book (.oab), the storage file where emails are saved (.pst), and the nickname cache (.nk2).  You may be able to find information in the Windows logs, but Microsoft isn't the best at giving detailed logs.  They do a wonderful job on server applications, but even those aren't turned up by default.  Again...Good luck buddy!
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37844694
Nope - they don't keep copies of the emails on the servers.

I'm still hoping the info is in the recipients collection... anybody?
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Author Closing Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 37925850
I will accept solution "there is no way to do it" (but I still wonder if the info is in the recipients collection)
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