Mail client tips

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The Linux kernel community uses a number of email lists to send patches, review patches, and discuss changes to the Linux kernel. Many kernel community members use mail clients, mail list software or automatic email processing scripts that do not handle HTML or attachments or weird character encodings or weird e-mail formats very well. For example, The mailing list software for the main kernel mailing list (LKML) considers HTML to be a sign of SPAM [1]. Also, for both humans and automated tools, it is essential in sending and reviewing patches that exact text, spacing and line endings are preserved. This is a something that many modern e-mail clients do not do by default.

This page exists to describe ways to configure modern email clients to be well-behaved for use in participating on Linux kernel mailing lists. More tips on this topic can also be found in the kernel source repository, in the file Documentation/email-clients.txt

Note that the tips fall into several categories:

  • sending in plain text (not HTML format)
  • preserving text formatting
    • avoiding 'text-flowed' format, extraneous line breaks, line wrapping, etc.
  • using community-preferred commenting style
    • quoting inline, with quoted material prefaced with '> '

Note also, that patches should be sent inline in the body of the message, instead of as an attachment. Since many e-mail clients will do strange things with encodings or formatting when you copy and paste the patch, (which is required to put it inline in the message body) you need to exercise caution with this step.

For sending patches, is more preferred to use 'git send-email'. There is a tutorial at for using 'git send-email' with the PulseAudio mailing list, but the instructions should work with most lists.


Outlook plain text mode

From Andrew Ducker at

You can cause Outlook to format all inbound mail as plain text as follows:

* File
* Options
* Trust Center
* Trust Center Settings
* Email Security
* (check the option) Read As Plain Text.

This means they all appear as plain text, so replies go out as plain text, which means that you get proper indenting (using ">") if you've set that up.

You can still display the HTML original for messages where you want to, by clicking on the "This message was converted to plain text" message on the header and switching to a different format.

Tim - Note that once you select the option to "View as HTML", you cannot switch back to plain text again. (At least, I couldn't find an option to do it. The info box that appears no longer has any options for changing the view formatting.)

In Outlook, if you reply, you may be put in a composer pain in the main outlook window, or it may create a new window to compose your response. In the standalone window, you can control the output format by selecting:

* Format Text
* in the "format" section, select "As Plain Text"

If it starts your resonse composition in the main outlook window, there is an option to "Pop Out" the message into a standalone window. If you want to always start responses in a standalone window, set the option:

* File
* Options
* Mail
* Replies and Forwards section
* (check the option) Open replies and forwards in a new window

Outlook preserve text formatting

There's an option to prevent Outlook from removing extraneous line feeds. See

* File
* Options
* Mail
* Message Format
* (uncheck the option) Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages

Note that in that same section of options, there is control over the column to wrap plain text at:

* Automatically wrap text at character [   ]

Make sure this value is blank, to avoid having Outlook automatically wrap text for you.

There's an way to prevent the first letter of a new line from being automatically capitalized. Change the autocorrect setting:

* File
* Options
* Mail in left-side menu
* Compose Messages (section)
* Spelling and Autocorrect button
* Proofing in left-side menu
* AutoCorrect options section
* AutoCorrect Options button
* AutoCorrect tab
* (uncheck the option) Capitalize first letter of sentences

Outlook commenting style

Here is some information on how to configure outlook to use "> " to preface replied-to text in inline responses.

These instructions worked for me on Outlook in Office Professinoal Plus 2013

* click on File on the menu bar
* select Options on pane that appears
* select Mail on left pane
* under Compose Messages, select change the setting for "Compose messages in this format" to "Plain text"
* Under Replies and Forwards
  * Set "When replying to a message" to "Prefix each line of the original message"
  * Set "When forwarding a message" to "Prefix each line of the original message:
  * Set "Preface each line in a plain-text message with:" to "> "  (greater-than sign followed by a space)

The above instructions work when the message is received in plain text. When a message is received in HTML format, it appears to be impossible to do inline or post-message comments.