Apple Mail fonts/recipient's view

I have recently tinkered with switching to using the native Mail app (after using Outlook for Mac for the last 8 years since I switched to Mac). I ran into a font deal-breaker, though, and I’m wondering if anyone has a fix. I cannot seem to be able to automatically format the mail to, by default, code and display my chosen fonts on the recipient’s machine, the way I want them to be displayed. I should add - I use a pre-formatted signature block, and a big part of the problem is getting the body of the email, and the signature block, to both show my chosen font and match each other in the recipient’s email client.

This is apparently an old issue (and, I guess, not one that Apple thinks needs “solving”). See, for example, this post from 2013:

The above link references a former plug-in that solved the problem, but Apple disabled its functionality in Mojave or before, I think.

With all the love for the native Mac Mail app around here, I am guessing that: (1) you have all solved the issue, or (2) it’s not a big deal for your workflows. If it’s #1, I would greatly appreciate hearing what the solutions are!

P.S. As far as I can tell, Apple’s Mail app for the Mac is about the only one that behaves this way. Most of the other major ones (Outlook, Airmail, Spark, etc.) give you a true “WYSIWIG” font look that will be enforced on the recipient’s end.

P.P.S. I understand that the response may be - this is Apple’s programming choice. They want users to control what they see on their own screen and not force the likes of Comic Sans on unwilling recipients. I get that, but as I say, it’s a deal-breaker for me not to have more control over how my emails will be received. So, if the answer is just that’s how it is and you can’t change it, then I will just stay content with Outlook for Mac for now.

P.P.P.S. I was hoping there was a tiny chance they might have addressed this at WWDC this week, but I am guessing not as I haven’t seen anything.

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I definitely understand your point of view (although I don’t agree with it). I’ll bet Apple 100% agrees with you as well. I actually do occasionally use bold or underline to subtly emphasize something particularly important within a long email (like, for instance, that the task has a deadline of June 30, 2020.) It’s the way email is done by most in the corporate (and, for me, education) world. Maybe it’s a generational thing and will gradually die out. But probably not before I retire.

P.S. Of course, I also still double-space sentences, and wear cargo shorts, as well. So that may help with context.

I think a helpful way to think about this is that rich text or HTML emails are a little like webpages—you have some control over how the recipient views them. But they do not work like word-processing documents or .pdfs. Things will look different depending on the recipient’s email client, their preferences, whether they allow their emails to download fonts/images, and whether they insist on reviewing plain-text versions of the emails only, etc.

Even services like MailChimp, etc. struggle with this and often have “if this email looks funny, click here to view it in your browser” button.

For signatures, I’ve found it best to:

  1. Keep it completely text based (nobody likes having every email show up with an attachment when the only actual attachment is a company logo or (worse) three or four attachments with various awards or social media icons;

  2. Use minimal formatting—maybe just a slight change in font size, weight, or color—in an arrangement that will still look good in plain text. Something like:

John Smith
(987) 654-3210

We’re Awesome!


you should never, ever, underline something that’s not a link on the internet.


One of my issues with even how plain text works in Apple Mail, is I can see how it will look in Outlook, which is officially what everyone in my organization uses. And, you guys are right. I don’t even like how it looks in my Outlook client when I send plain text (for some reason it goes into a far tinier font than my Outlook default preference). In a word, since I, my colleagues, and the vast majority of my external email correspondents use Outlook, it’s a little quaint to discuss the relative superiority of Apple’s design choices in Mail. Kind of like the tree falling in the forest and whether it makes a sound or not…

On double-spacing, I will grant that the tide has turned. The original reason for double-spacing had to do with using actual typewriters, and then it carried over. For those born before Weezer was a band, though, it was pretty standard across all professions (not just high school teachers).

Old habits die hard. I’ll work on this one (I’m keeping the cargo shorts, though)

Lawyers aren’t the best example of pleasingly putting words on paper (or screens), not aesthetically (as the cited website clearly demonstrate) nor with regard of comprehensibility…

We can agree that double spacing was a workaround in the era of typewriters to achieve something otherwise impossible, so moving away from it is a good thing.

That said, there are worst thipographic crimes to fight. :smile:

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FWIW, my previous company did a lot of email marketing and I can assure you the recipient’s email client controls how the message is displayed . We tested several designs and found that keeping the message as simple as possible yielded the most consistent results.

And while I don’t double space sentences, having learned on a manual typewriter I still space twice after a period. :smile:

The main issue is that fonts do not travel with the email. Fonts are separately copyrighted and licensed. If you use the standard fonts that ship with the os, your recipient may render the same way you intended. Unless the user has disabled any of the standard fonts (like I do for Comic Sans). Standard fonts differ between Mac and Windows too. There are some default mappings in place, but this gets us only a bit of the way.

Plain text or rich text / HTML is the best we get.


I thought the impetus for double-spacing was to allow room for editor’s notes, grading, etc.
It’s much easier when my students double space and I want to make a note about part of a sentence. Otherwise, it’s highlight and make a note that is only visible when clicked on.

For normal use though, I would find it irritating.


Yeah, as others have said, I wouldn’t do this.
If what you’re emailing is some kind of product, or relies on the art of presentation, then I would send a PDF. (With fonts embedded if needed.)

I work in professional publishing. Europe has never, ever used double spacing. Typewriters don’t need this, it was considered clearer to the eye because of the obligatory single-space fonts they use, but it was typically an US cosmetic fashion.

@JohnAtl You might be confusing the space between sentences and between lines. Double-space intervals have their editorial uses, but they are not a typographical matter. :slight_smile:

And I second all that everyone else said in that thread: keep email formatting to the bare minimum if you want to make sure it will be received correctly.

For signatures, there’s an app on the MAS called Email Signature Creator which provides beautiful rich formatting while remaining portable. I haven’t had a problem with it in two years of use.


Gah! I could have sworn I read ‘carriage’ in one of @wbarnes4393’s posts.
Nevermind :slight_smile:

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It’s one of the canonical rules of the typography profession. Every major style guide including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style prescribes a single space after a period.

Even Microsoft wised up. Finally. Two months ago.


I suspected something like that, but wasn’t sure, since no one ever taught me to type on a typewriter or else.

I find fascinating the cultural differences that can arise in otherwise similar cultures (well, that are considered similar, anyway).

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While that is true, Apple Mail is worse in regard to control over the recipients’ view than other mail clients. You can actually see the differences by looking at the HTML embedded in the raw message sources. When I compose with a sans-serif font, for example, Apple Mail often inserts “serif,” or nothing at all, as the fallback font for cases when the recipient doesn’t have the same font installed.

Apple Mail also erases the “typeface” variant from the “Message Font” selection when composing new messages: if I select Helvetica Light, for example, new messages are still composed in Helvetica Regular. Also if you “Copy Style” from text in Helvetica Light and then immediately “Paste Style” it will become Helvetica Regular. Bugs!

I was hoping that the new MailKit extension APIs that they discussed at WWDC would allow me to write a plugin that fixes these kinds of problem, but the documentation for those APIs doesn’t make it look easy. You can get at the raw RFC822 data, but after that you are on your own, and I don’t see a whole lot of libraries out there designed to help with decoding and re-encoding this format.

I really dislike signatures that contain fake attachments.