How To Set Evolution E-Mail To NON-HTML

By | 2007/03/04

For those of you that have received email from me you might have noticed that I’m part of the ASCII Ribbon Campaign. This is definitely something that I believe in and hope you might take a second to check it out too. It doesn’t require much on your end. Just a simple configuration change in your email client, but it can make a big difference. If nothing else it’ll make your email contacts a little happier because they won’t have to deal with over-sized, dangerous HTML laced emails.

A few points on HTML email quickly and then I’ll show a few steps on how and where you can make sure you’re not adding to the problem. In one sentence: “HTML belongs on the web and out of your inbox”

  1. HTML email can be dangerous
  2. Smartly constructed image links can "call home" to an advertisement server and get a confirmation with your e-mail address and IP address, browser type, operating system, time zone, and more. Confirming that the e-mail was indeed opened and viewed, all automatically, confirms your address as being read and a good target to send SPAM! - The ASCII Ribbon Campaign Website

  3. HTML email wastes bandwidth
  4. HTML e-mails with a background image or flashy graphics are usually a complete waste of bandwidth, inbox space, and time. Having to download 200kb or more for an e-mail that contains a few lines of text is ridiculous! The same can be done in a fraction of that size (like, 0.1% of it!) when using plain text, saying exactly the same, and communicating exactly the same information. - The ASCII Ribbon Campaign Website

  5. HTML email is not always user friendly

People that are limited to a text-only terminal, people with disabilities, or the blind--basically anyone that cannot use a graphical interface-- are likely unable to read your mail. - The ASCII Ribbon Campaign Website

Below I have outlined a few steps to make sure Evolution is configured to send and receive only plain-text email. If you have a link to instructions for any other client or would like to blog instructions for another client please leave a comment and I will include that link here.

Evolution Instructions

Inside the default Ubuntu mail client, Evolution, you’ll want to navigate to:

Edit > Preferences

This will present you with the details for your mail account(s). You’ll want to first find the third tab, Mail Preferences.

Within Mail Preferences you’ll want to navigate to the second tab, HTML Mail. I suggest matching your settings to something like this.

  • You do not want to show image animations.
  • You do not need to prompt when sending HTML messages to contacts that do not want them. (as you wont be sending any!)
  • You also should never load images from the internet.
  • Finally I have Prefer PLAIN set in the last option. I would prefer to only ever show plain but it causes trouble with my office Exchange Server (big surprise!)

After you have these configured you’ll want to navigate to the next tab, Composer Preferences.

  • Make sure that Format messages in HTML is turned off.

This should about do it for Evolution. For those of you that already have these set I thank you. for those that do not please consider taking a few quick steps to make your emails safer, take less bandwidth and be more friendly to everyone.

For more information you can visit these ASCII Ribbon Campaign sites:

The ASCII Ribbon Campaign

ASCII Ribbon Campaign : No HTML. No vCards

7 Reasons Why HTML email is evil

A few more here, here, here and here.

5 thoughts on “How To Set Evolution E-Mail To NON-HTML

  1. hellothere

    “1. HTML email can be dangerous” because they can call back? So what? At least I got such filters that I have not seen spam in my inbox(es) for the last 3 years or so. Let some one waste their time. What comes to the rest dangerousness I have my software updated and maintained properly, thank you.

    “2. HTML email wastes bandwidth” No. First of all, it’s an investment. You lose a little bit bandwidth to be able to express yourself superiorly. It’s justified. Second, I can hardly imagine your downlink being maxed out constantly because of HTML email. There’s enough bandwidth to send all the email in the world 10 times again just for the fun of it.

    “3. HTML email is not always user friendly”. Uhh. Accessibility? Well, if you got accessibility features for your browser you got it for HTML mails as well. Use proper renderer/engine/whatever and stop toying with inferior products.

    That ASCII ribbon campaign is plain moot and silly. Get real, the new expressive power is good usability and gives often great extra value addition to the communication service provided by e-mail. You are completely missing the point, making wrong decisions for wrong reasons.

    People: Turn the HTML stuff on. Always. Use it. It’s here for it and ALL the sane software, environments (such as networks) and people just love all the features of it. What you see here on these blogs is just plain elitistic nerd laming.

  2. infodroid

    Its the 21st century and its about time we moved on from ASCII. There is no excuse not to render HTML by default.

  3. joe martin

    I think you have some good points here. For example, FBI’s “Magic Lantern” can reportedly be installed on a recipient’s computer if recipient opens an html message, esp. one with graphics, music, etc., and once installed it reports every keystroke the recipient makes on his or her puter back to spy quarters. !
    I don’t know if it can be installed using a non-html format, but seems would be more difficult to install in just a text program.
    E mail should be simple text, businesslike, without ads and spyware. thanks

  4. chris

    I was trying to figure out how to turn html ON. Your directions worked great for that too. 😛

  5. Mike

    I like reading comments like

    1 – “[HTML mail allows them to] call back? So what?” –hellothere
    2 – “[HTML email allows you] to express yourself superiorly.” –hellothere
    3 – “Its the 21st century and its about time we moved on from ASCII.” –infodroid

    These quotes reveal a severe lack of knowledge and/or consideration of security. To address 1, maybe you don’t mind having your computer used for hidden unwarranted communication, but I do. Not only do I, but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t. To address 2, if your message necessitates HTML, either you have not developed your skills of communication well enough or what you want to send is not a message at all, and thus, isn’t meant for email. As for HTML allowing you to express yourself in a superior way, well, let all the professional writers in the world know that there is now a better way for them to express themselves using markup instead of language, colors instead of words, alignment instead of punctuation. Let them know what they’ve been missing.

    As for 3, well, I don’t know where to start. I guess I would ask for an example of a computer that in some way or another does not use ASCII. Even the most modern processors and operating systems have use for ASCII. I would even say in response that “It’s the 21st century and ASCII has not gone anywhere.”

    I think people have an aversion to ASCII because they associate it with antiquity for some reason. ASCII is nothing but a mathematical bijection among a subset of the integers and characters. This allows plain English messages to be exchanged by computers. Isn’t that the purpose of email?

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