How to change the character encoding in outlook

Quite often, when a sender sends a mail to us via Outlook, we do not see the message but some unreadable characters. If you regularly see some strange or incorrect characters in your Outlook mail, this short tutorial will help you to resolve the problem. When you type something on a keyboard, a computer recognizes it via a complex process called encoding. It then displays the relevant characters on screen. So, it is this character encoding which acts as a key in determining which values correspond to which characters.

The visual representation of these characters is referred to as Glyph. Different sets of it constitute a ‘Font’. So, when you type a line or write a paragraph and change its font, you’re not changing the phonetic values of the letters but just the appearance of it. Any mismatch in the process could lead to the rendering of the text as unreadable.

Change Character Encoding in Outlook

Changing the encoding on a message could help you view the characters properly. Fortunately, the process is quite easy in Outlook. To do so,

Open the desired message, double click to open it up.

Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab of the opened message and choose ‘Actions’ > ‘Other Actions’.

After that, select ‘Encoding’ to see what encoding is currently in use.

The recommendation for email formats is UTF-8. If you find that the message from the sender is using another format such as ‘Western European’ to encode its mails, change it.

Click ‘More’ and then select the encoding you want, such as UTF-8. Hereafter, you should be able to read the email.

Although it is not mandatory and you can change the default outgoing encoding to any type, Western European is considered as a subset of UTF-8. As such it can be read using UTF-8.

If you want other people or individuals to be able to read your messages without any hassles, it’s best to keep it as Western European or changing to a globally used encoding like UTF-8.

Quite often, when a sender sends a mail to us via Outlook, we do not see the message but some unreadable characters. If you regularly see some strange or incorrect characters in your Outlook mail, this short tutorial will help you to resolve the problem. When you type something on a keyboard, a computer recognizes it via a complex process called encoding. It then displays the relevant characters on screen. So, it is this character encoding which acts as a key in determining which values correspond to which characters.

The visual representation of these characters is referred to as Glyph. Different sets of it constitute a ‘Font’. So, when you type a line or write a paragraph and change its font, you’re not changing the phonetic values of the letters but just the appearance of it. Any mismatch in the process could lead to the rendering of the text as unreadable.

Change Character Encoding in Outlook

Changing the encoding on a message could help you view the characters properly. Fortunately, the process is quite easy in Outlook. To do so,

Open the desired message, double click to open it up.

Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab of the opened message and choose ‘Actions’ > ‘Other Actions’.

After that, select ‘Encoding’ to see what encoding is currently in use.

How to change the character encoding in outlook

The recommendation for email formats is UTF-8. If you find that the message from the sender is using another format such as ‘Western European’ to encode its mails, change it.

Click ‘More’ and then select the encoding you want, such as UTF-8. Hereafter, you should be able to read the email.

How to change the character encoding in outlook

Although it is not mandatory and you can change the default outgoing encoding to any type, Western European is considered as a subset of UTF-8. As such it can be read using UTF-8.

How to change the character encoding in outlook

If you want other people or individuals to be able to read your messages without any hassles, it’s best to keep it as Western European or changing to a globally used encoding like UTF-8.

How to change the character encoding in outlook

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Many of the fonts included with Microsoft Windows have support for languages with non-Latin characters such as Hebrew, Greek and Arabic. However, you must configure Outlook 2010 to use Unicode UTF-8 text encoding to combine non-Latin characters with English characters in email messages. Enabling UTF-8 encoding in Outlook also allows you to use non-Latin characters when typing email addresses. Enable these options in the Advanced section of the Outlook Options menu.

Click the orange “File” tab in the top left corner of the Outlook 2010 window and click “Options” on the pull-down menu. A new window titled “Outlook Options” appears.

Click the “Advanced” heading on the left side of the window and then scroll to the “International Options” heading near the bottom.

Place a check in the box labeled “Automatically select encoding for outgoing messages” and click “Unicode (UTF-8)” on the drop-down menu.

Place a check in the box labeled “Automatically select encoding for outgoing vCards” and click “Unicode (UTF-8)” on the drop-down menu.

Place a check in the box labeled “Allow UTF-8 support for the mailto: protocol.”

Problem:

Regional characters (such as ü, ä, ø, etc.) in signatures and disclaimers added by CodeTwo Exchange Rules are not displayed correctly. Instead of the actual characters, users see strings of ? signs.

Solution:

This issue is most likely caused by incorrect encoding settings. For example, the proper display of European regional characters requires the UTF-8 encoding protocol (Central European). If the encoding in your environment is set, for example to ASCII, the regional characters will not be displayed correctly.

If ? appears instead of a regional character, force the correct encoding settings in:

  1. Windows Server
  2. MS Outlook
  3. Outlook on the web (only in hybrid deployments with on-premises Exchange server)

If none of the solutions above helps, you can try a workaround to the encoding issue and use the Force email format action (available only in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro). This will allow you to automatically convert all plain text emails to HTML. Since the encoding issue is almost exclusive to TXT-formatted messages, the problem should be solved. All regional characters will be correctly displayed, regardless of the encoding settings.

Applies to CodeTwo Exchange Rules 2013 1.x | 2010 1.x and 2.x | 2007 2.x and 3.x, and CodeTwo Signatures for Email Clients

If you designed your signature outside the Editor, locate the file containing the signature and open it, for example, in Windows Notepad. Click File > Save as and make sure that the encoding is set correctly (Fig. 1.). Upload the corrected file to the Editor.

Fig. 1. Choosing the encoding format for the signature.

I use Outlook 2010 at home and Outlook 2013 at my workplace to view my e-mails. My account is an outlook.com Exchange account.

The encoding of outgoing messages is set to Unicode UTF-8 in both of the clients.

Here is my issue:

When I send an e-mail from home (Outlook 2010) and view that e-mail in the Sent Items folder at my workplace (Outlook 2013), the header of the message (sender, names of recipients) appears with the wrong encoding, for example, ‘á’ instead of ‘á’ and so on. This is also true for messages in my inbox where I am also among the recipients (when using Reply To All). The body of the e-mail appears correctly, only the names of the recipients and the sender are wrong.

The issue only appears when viewed in Outlook 2013, so the same e-mails appear correctly both at home and the browser version of outlook.com. And this is only true for messages that I sent from home, so if I send an e-mail from my workplace, there is nothing wrong in Outlook 2013.

What could be the case here?

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When you receive a new email in Outlook, you may see unreadable characters in the email message body. This issue could be caused by one of the following reasons on the Outlook client side:

The email you received is converted to plain text format or a different encoding by a virus scanner.

This always happens when you are using characters (Such as apostrophes, double quotes, dashes, and ellipsis) supported by the “Smart Quotes” feature. When the email you received is converted to plain text format or a different encoding by a virus scanner, the character is converted from the ASCII character to a Unicode character, which is not supported on the recipient’s side.

To prevent this issue from happening, we can turn off the “Smart Quotes” Feature in Outlook:

1. Open Outlook 2013.

2. Click File > Options > Mail.

3. Click Spelling and AutoCorrect button.

4. In the Editor Options window, click AutoCorrect Options button to open the AutoCorrect dialog.

5. Click AutoFormat tab, and then clear the check box before “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” under Replace heading.

The issue may be related to font substitution when a change is made to the Web Options in Microsoft Word.

If a change is made to the Web Options in Microsoft Word, registry data under the following key may be configured incorrectly:

This problem has been seen to occur when the Latin string value under the \Fonts key was empty (no value).

We can check the Web Options setting in Word via:

2. Go to File > Options > Advanced.

3. Scroll down to the General section, click Web Options button.

4. Switch to Font tab.

To resolve the problem, we need to delete the \Fonts registry key. To do this, please follow:

2. Press Windows key + R to open the Run command, type regedit and press Enter.

4. Right-click the Font key and select Delete.

5. Click Yes and exit Registry Editor.

The sender used an e-mail program that did not mark messages with a language encoding (character set), or marked messages with an incorrect encoding setting.

In this case, we will see unreadable characters when we open the received message in our Outlook. For example, European regional characters (like German) require UTF-8 encoding protocol. So if the encoding in your environment is set to ASCII, the regional characters will not be available.

To resolve this issue, we need to change the encoding in Outlook to which will display your message correctly.

1. Double-click to open the message you received.

2. Click Actions button in the Move group under Message tab.

3. Click Other Actions > Encoding.

4. Click More and select the correct encoding setting for the email.

5. After you finish reading the message, close the message, and click Yes button to save changes to the message.

When we send an email with Outlook, we can set Outlook to automatically select encoding for outgoing email messages to increase the possibility that the recipient receiving the message will see all the characters rendered properly, even if they run older e-mail programs. By default, Outlook 2013 will automatically select an optimal encoding for outgoing e-mail messages. We can change the settings here in Outlook 2013: File > Options > Advanced > International Options section.

Something you may need to know when you set the encoding settings:

* The Unicode (UTF-8) character enables the complete range of characters on all computers. It’s the official IANA code for the UTF-8 character encoding.

* Western European (ISO) and Western European (Windows) character set can be read by almost all computers.

* If you are using a language other than English, you must choose the correct character set for that language, or the characters you need will not be displayed correctly.

Unicode consortium assigns a unique code point for each character you can type using keyboard. This is code point is in hexadecimal format like U+2714 for check mark ✔ symbol. However, individual applications use Character encoding to convert this Unicode code point to a binary computer code. When you type the code, your computer will convert it into a character using locale code page. So, character encoding of documents is important to view it in a readable format.

Are You Viewing Junk Characters in Word?

Microsoft Word uses default Windows or macOS character encoding for the file extensions like .doc and .docx. You will see junk characters when opening a plain text file having different character encoding. This does not mean the document is corrupted. It means the document was saved with different encoding standard and you need to change the encoding to view in Word.

How to Change Character Encoding in Microsoft Word?

Whenever you open an incompatible document, Word will show a file conversion dialog. However, if you are not seeing it, it is easy to enable that option. You can open any Word document to enable this setting, as it will be applied to all documents.

Enable File Format Conversion Dialog

  • Open a document and navigate to “File > Options” menu.
  • Click on the “Advanced” section and scroll down to “General” section on the right pane.
  • By default, Word disables the setting for “Confirm file format conversion on open”.
  • Check the box to enable this option.
  • Click “OK” to apply the changes and close all open documents.

This option will help you to trigger a dialog box whenever you open file formats other than .doc or .docx. For example, if you use Word to open a plain text file with .txt extension, you will get a prompt for checking the file format.

Change Character Encoding

Now, open the file you want to change the character encoding. Word will show you the “Convert File” dialog box like below.

Select the file format if you know like plain text or HTML document. If you are not clear, select “Encoded Text” option and click on “OK” button. Next, you will see “File Conversion” dialog box. Generally, “Windows (Default)” will choose the encoding based on your locale settings. This may create problems when viewing special symbols and characters.

Choose “Other encoding” option to enable the list box beside. You will see a list of encoding options available in the list and choose “Unicode (UTF-8)” format. If required, choose insert line breaks and allow character substitution options. Click “OK” to complete the process. Now, you have successfully changed the file’s character encoding to UTF-8.

This will help you to view the file’s content in readable format, as UTF-8 should support most of the characters.

Disable File Conversion

Once you are done with changing character encoding of a file, ensure to disable the file conversion option. Go back to “File > Options” and change the settings under “Advanced” section. This will help you to disable the file conversion dialog in future.

Saving Files in Different Encoding

You can’t change the encoding of a file that you are saving as a .docx file. Word will assign the character encoding by default based on your regional language installation or UTF-8. However, you can change the encoding by changing the file into plain text format.

  • Go to “File” menu and select “Save As” option.
  • Click on the “Save as type” dropdown and select “Plain Text” option.

Click on the “Save” button and Word will open “File Conversion” dialog box as explained above. From there, you can change the encoding and save your document.

Change Encoding in Word Office 365 on Mac

Similar to Windows, Office 365 version on Mac also has options to enable file format check and offer conversion.

  • Open Microsoft Word document and go to “Word > Preferences…” section.
  • Click on “General” under “Authoring and Proofing Tools” section.
  • Enable “Confirm file format conversion at Open” under “Settings” section.
  • Close all open documents for the changes to take effect.

Whenever you open an incompatible file, Word will show you the convert file from options dialog box.

Choose “Encoded Text” or the file format if you know and click on “OK” button. On the next dialog box, you can select “Other encoding” option and choose “Unicode (UTF-8)” encoding.

Unlike Windows, here you can clearly see the warning message showing select the encoding that makes your document readable. Also, you can find the incompatible text are marked with red with a message indicating those text will not save correctly with the selected encoding.

In addition, you can also save the file in plain text format to change the encoding in Mac same like in Windows Word version.

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We are troubleshooting an issue with some emails going outbound and need to see what the “Character Type” is set to in Exchange 2010. Specifically need to see if it is using “Unicode (UTF-8)” or something else.

I was able to figure this out. There are two ways of doing this:

1. Use Exchange Management Shell — Get-RemoteDomain Default | fl *charac*Use

2. Exchange Management Console — Microsoft Exchange –> Microsoft Exchange On-Premises –> Organization Configuration –> Hub Transport (On the Right hand side, check the properties of remote domains listed)

7 Replies

I do know about changing it on the Outlook Client level but there must be a way in the Exchange Management Console. We have applications that send out emails through the application and an issue we are running into is some specific character symbols (Trademark symbol) don’t get translated correctly when sent to specific domains. For instance, when the trademark symbol is in the subject line and gets sent to some email addresses, it gets replaced with “�” – After some research, it was suggested to see what the character type is set to.

If you want to change the default character encoding in Notepad in Windows 10, this tutorial will guide you through the process. It is possible to change the default encoding from UTF-8 to ANSI or other using the Registry Editor. Notepad started using UTF-8 as the default character encoding – it used ANSI as the default encoding.

Let’s assume that you have a text file showing some unusual characters such as ð. If you want to extract the original human-readable text out of these strange characters, you may need to switch between character encodings.

We have already shown the process to change the character encoding in the Outlook app, now let us see how to do it for Notepad. While Notepad allows you to change the encoding while saving the file, it is better to change it while creating or editing a file. The following character encodings are available:

  • ANSI
  • UTF-16 LE
  • UTF-16 BE
  • UTF-8
  • UTF-8 with BOM

Precaution: As you will use Registry Editor, it is recommended to backup all Registry files and create a System Restore point.

How to change default encoding in Notepad

To change default encoding in Notepad, follow these steps-

  1. Press Win+R to open the Run prompt.
  2. Type regedit and hit the Enter button.
  3. Click on the Yes button.
  4. Navigate to Notepad in HKCU.
  5. Right-click on Notepad > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  6. Name it as iDefaultEncoding.
  7. Double-click on it to set the Value data.
  8. Click the OK button.

You will have to open the Registry Editor on your computer. For that, press Win+R, type regedit , and hit the Enter button. If the UAC prompt appears, click on the Yes button. After opening the Registry Editor, navigate to the following path-

Right-click on Notepad and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. –>

How to change the character encoding in outlook

Once it is created, name it as iDefaultEncoding. Now, double-click on iDefaultEncoding and set the Value data as following-

  • ANSI: 1
  • UTF-16 LE: 2
  • UTF-16 BE: 3
  • UTF-8 BOM: 4
  • UTF-8: 5

After setting the Value data, click on the OK button to save the change.

How to change the character encoding in outlook

Once done, restart the Notepad app to find the difference. You can see the selected character encoding in the Status Bar.

In case you want to get back to the original, navigate to the same path in the Registry Editor and right-click on iDefaultEncoding. Then, select the Delete button and confirm the removal.

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Thank you for this excellent service, it was the easiest solution for gathering information from visitors through online forms.

I have just one question : Can I change the default character encoding of e-mails that I receive via JotForm?

Because many Turkish characters appear strangely in my e-mail app. (Thunderbird) with default Turkish ISO 8959-9 encoding setting. When I change it to Unicode UTF-8, they look okay, but I have to do this each time I receive a form, which is probably not the best solution I think.

Thanks in advance for any assistance, and once again, thank you for this great service!

There isn’t any user setting which would let you change encoding. All my mail arrives as UTF-8 (both html and text), so I wonder if this is specific to your own copy of Thunderbird somehow. If possible, can you view a message via some webmail interface? Then we could be sure if Thunderbird is the problem.

I assume your system langauge is set to Turkish but it’s possible to specify an encoding permanently for all incoming email in the the Thunderbird preferences, regardless of the system language settings. I see that you are using windows.. this screenshot is from my Mac but it should be fairly similar for a PC. Make sure to also turn off Auto Detect.

Please get back to me if this doesn’t do the trick.

Thank you for your kind reply. I guess you’re right, this seems to be an application-related issue. I tried with Lotus, and the whole form came out perfectly, only this time the turkish characters in “sender” part (if any) looked weird, which is just a minor problem.

Btw, setting the encoding permanently to UTF-8 in Thunderbird, makes almost all of my remaining e-mails look badly encoded, therefore it’s not possible for me to use it that way.

Thanks anyway for trying to help, I’m sure I’ll find a way to adjust “sender” part in Lotus, and continue to read my forms there.

I have the same problem with german charset. The Mail I receive and the sender receives don’t show the german ä ü and ö. Usually, UTF-8 should be ok that for, but it doesn’t seem to work properly. Outlook AND Webmail will show the wrong characters.

Btw: In the overview within JotForm the informations that have been filled in with ä ü ö (like City = Zürich) will not be shown at all.

Can you help me about that issue?

How to change the character encoding in outlook

Dear Erik and Ali,

Could you please share your e-mail details in Raw format ? (in Raw format, you can easily see which charset is used to encode the email)

We’re already sending our emails in UTF-8 format but if you can provide me that information I want to check it to see if it’s related to any bug.

In the source code of the mail, the Word “Zürich” ist ok. It will be shown in the Mail as “Zrich”. By default the mail is shown in Outlook with UTF-8 coding. If I change to “Western european (windows)”, it will show “Zürich” correctly.

There is no indication in the source code about charset.

The Form code ist embended into my php site. As the charset for the site itself was “iso-8859-1”, I changed it to “UTF-8” too. The Mails from the form are now correct (“Zürich”), but the title of each form field (like “City”, “Country”, etc.) that have some ä,ü,ö in it will not be shown correctly (square instead of right character) in the form. So that is not a solution for me.