Apple Mail Font Size Problem – Workaround for Outlook Recipients

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“Why does my signature look too big in Outlook…?”
“When Outlook users receive my email, my signature looks terrible…”

Apple Signature font mismatch

As an Apple Mail user, have you ever wondered why your messages look less than professional when Outlook users receive your email messages? Perhaps the message body font is displayed at a different size than your auto-generated signature, displaying something like this?

Users Control How They View Emails

“But my preferences in Mail have a font and size selected.”

Unfortunately, although you may have set your email to display, for example, at 12 in Verdana, these settings only affect what you are viewing in Mail. These settings are not applied to outgoing email.

There is a reason for Mail’s lack of compatibility with Outlook. The message body text is usually sent as plain text (no font or size specified) and your signature most likely has a size specification of html small, medium, or large. This can lead to two interpretations of sizes: one for the message text area and another for the signature block. Outlook will set the message font size and font to what the Outlook user has specified (default is Calibri 11 point in Outlook 2010) in the message body area. Your signature size is up to Outlook to interpret a baseline for small, medium, or large. This, of course, is messy looking with two font sizes displayed to your Outlook recipients.

Plain Text Not Always Ideal

You can have the text message body and signature match via plain text. I spoke to Apple Support for help and they suggested clicking on “Always match my default message font” for signatures. After testing with Outlook users – the result is plain text only emails.

However, I think you would agree plain text has a downside. No bolding, colored text, etc. (nice for when you want to answer a question within someone’s message). Although it may be great viewing only plain text to override folks who send emails with 9 point fonts with pink text (usually too small looking to the average Mac reader), overall it’s a less aesthetic experience.

Format Outgoing Email – Universal Mailer Plugin for Apple Mail

To step around the issue of inconsistent font sizes, install the plugin Universal Mailer. Once installed, you can set your outgoing messages to the font size and font you prefer. However, unless your signature file is a rich text file – Universal Mailer cannot correct plain text signature files.

Fixing Your Signature File

Remember the size setting mentioned earlier of “small, medium, or large” for your signature? Here is how you can match your outgoing signature file to the message body of your text once you install Universal Mailer. It’s important your signature is a rich text formatted signature instead of plain text which Universal Mailer cannot override.

  • Access your Signature through Mail in Preferences > Signature tab
  • Highlight your Signature and Control Key for the right-click menu
  • From the right-click menu select “Font” and then “Show Fonts”
  • Select the font and font size you prefer (12 at least to be readable)

Now your signature should match the outgoing text body of your email message with Universal Mailer plugin without settling for plain text emails. You can bold and use other elements to help emphasize your communications. Assuming your email recipient doesn’t override the settings, you should now have a nicely matched email message with no “exploding” or other signature size mismatch with the body of the email text message.

Let Apple know you would prefer they fix outgoing emails to have a set font and font size (with matching signature size in rich text) so the entire email looks good for Outlook users.

Apple Feedback:
http://www.apple.com/feedback

Special thank you to Paula Farthing, Marian Harmon, and Teresa Morinaga for being Outlook 2010 testers.

Note: This information applies to Apple Mail 6.2 in Mountain Lion OS 10.8.2. Universal Mailer is a third-party plugin. Any updates to Apple Mail may uninstall the plugin and require reinstalling.

For the technically inclined wanting to see the HTML markup – the signature files are in the Library folder. You can reach it via “Go” from the Finder menu “~/Library/Mail/V2/MailData/Signatures/”

Having an problem implementing? You can contact the developer on GitHub.

Latest version is available on Universal Mailer.

Nancy Seeger, the owner of Arts Assistance, believes website design is part of the marketing toolkit that attracts your audience. Arts Assistance roster of clients includes a GRAMMY artist, coaches, small businesses and non-profits. Get weekly web design insider tips to more easily manage your website and attract your audience.

Posted in Apple Mail
62 comments on “Apple Mail Font Size Problem – Workaround for Outlook Recipients
  1. Being the developer behind Universal Mailer I found this blog post brilliant: it explains everything you need to know to install and, most importantly, effectively use the plugin in a real life environment.

    Thanks to the author!

    • Nancy Seeger says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. It’s great to have Universal Mailer fill in where Mail falls short so users are not stuck with just plain text emails. Please keep up the wonderful work.

    • David says:

      Thank you for this app, but I wish I could remove the message that gets put on outgoing emails. Can I pay for a version that does not include this message? I read that this used to be the case.

      • Nancy Seeger says:

        Hi David,

        Are you using the most recent version of Universal Mailer? It went open source.

        If you click on the link on this blog post you will see there are two versions of the plugin. You can also post a question at Github (listed on Universal Mailer’s web site).

        I hope that helps,
        Nancy

        • David says:

          Hi Nancy,

          Yup, I am using 1.5.1 which is indicated as the latest. I will post a question at the github site. (I was hoping that the developer might see my message here. ) Does your version add text to outgoing emails?

          Thanks, David

          • David says:

            Oops, I got this reply back: “I’m sorry, but this address is for GitHub support. I believe you were looking for support for a specific project hosted on GitHub.”

            So I can’t see how to contact the developer of the app. There is no clear, “contact me” that I can see. If you can possibly pass my question on for me, that would be great. Or please explain how I can do it.

            Thanks, David

          • Hi David,
            you can contact me at the address reported on the website (http://noware-it.zxq.net), anyway for your specific problem you should remove the plugin before installing the latest version (v1.5.2) to be sure of the version you have. See the GitHub page for more detail on how to remove it.

            Regards,
            Luca

  2. Richard Honey says:

    Universal Mailer seems fine for dealing with the font problem, particularly with Outlook. However that leaves the issue of attachments. Some of my contacts using Outlook can’t see attachments. – not sure if that’s because I’m specifying icon only attachments but then who wants huge images in the middle of the body of an email. The only reliable way I’ve found is to use Attachment Tamer. However that isn’t compatible with Universal Mailer. So I’m left with the choice of either successful attachments OR emails laid out as intended – or I guess plain text emails.

    • Nancy Seeger says:

      Hi Richard,

      I suspect the icon may not be compatible. I’ve tweeted the plugin developer in hopes he would respond, he would know best. On Universal Mailer website, it does talk about fixing an issue with attachments. Unfortunately it sounds like it’s not compatible (assuming all plugins/OS are up to date).

      Kind regards,
      Nancy

      • Hi Richard,
        the plugin has a known issue with some versions of Outlook. The issue is currently open and it is not fixed. You can monitor the GitHub page for progress on this, even though I don’t have timings.

        Regards,
        Luca

  3. Richard Honey says:

    Hi Nancy

    Thanks for getting back on this. I know, I’m puzzled as it does say that the UM plugin fixes the attachment issue, but I’ve had a couple of clients on Outlook say that attachments weren’t showing up, though they did when they looked on webmail (having said that some Outlook users did get the attachments which is puzzling) . I tried emailing myself to a Win8 Mail box and the attachment failed to be displayed there unless I used Attachment Tamer. For now I’m trying Mail Box which doesn’t have these issues at all and looks a lot nicer than Apple Mail with a lot more features, though it is a bit of a memory hog and doesn’t work with iCal on Mountain Lion – at least not yet. At least I can look professional when I send emails to clients!

    Best wishes

    Richard

  4. Nancy Seeger says:

    Haven’t heard of Mail Box – can you share the URL so folks can go check it out? Heard of PostBox for Mac.

    Thanks again for your comments.
    Nancy

  5. Richard Honey says:

    Sorry, I meant Postbox – been a long hard day – doh!
    http://www.postbox-inc.com

  6. Mike K says:

    Hello,

    I have been experiencing the above issues with Apple Mail – signature mismatch AND Outlook changing my body text font as well. So I really hope this works. If not, I’ll most likely purchase a Windows machine for my business needs because professionalism is a must and my Apple emails have been anything but professional when sent to a Outlook user – easily 75% of my customers. Anyway – my questions:

    I am currently running 10.7 (Lion)…

    1. I am assuming the 1.4 version is for Lion users?

    2. Do you know of any limitations to this version like – are advertisements removed for this version as well?

    Thanks!

    Mike

    • Nancy Seeger says:

      Hi Mike,

      I did a bit of searching online and it may be 1.4 is meant for 10.6 and early 10.7 users. If your version of 10.7 is up to date, I would try 1.5.2. I’m not the developer so I can’t

      Definitely works with 10.8 very well. Apple Mail isn’t the only email program for Macs, Outlook 2011 is available to name one.

      Thanks for reading the post!
      Nancy

      • Mike K says:

        I did a google search MAC Office 2011 and saw a bunch of font issues there as well ;)

        • Hi,
          Nancy is right: version 1.4 is for 10.7 and 10.6 users. You can however try the latest version, I put both of them online because some users had problems running 1.5 with 10.7 or 10.6.

          About the font issue: you’ll find a lot of posts on blogs about this, it is due to the Outlook way of handling standard by not respecting them :)

          Regards,
          Luca

  7. Richard Honey says:

    Mike

    No adverts when I used it. I’m currently using Postbox. A bit of a memory hog but if you have sufficient Ram on board then I find it acts like a grown up mail client – properly formatted text and attachments and a whole host of other features – more like Entourage only better in some respects and you don’t have the Office for Mac problem of not syncing with iCloud. Doesn’t link with iCal properly yet – try emailing a appointment and Mail still opens, but fine with Contacts. Will do me until Apple sort Mail out – not holding breath mind you :-)

    • David says:

      Postbox advertises itself as a client for Gmail users, so is that true? It’s only for people using Gmail accounts? I would ask them, but they don’t include any contact info on their site. At least that I can find.

  8. Mike K says:

    Thanks for your comments.

    I am running 10.7.5 (latest version) and when I try to work with UM 1.5.2 I get an error (There is no default application specified to open the document UniversalMailer.mailbundle) SO THEN I try UM 1.4 and I go through the installation process and it says it was successful but then I don’t see it in my mail preferences… I did restart my computer and I tried this process 4 time with no success.

    Any help would be much appreciated ;)

    Mike

    • Nancy Seeger says:

      Hi Mike,

      Optimally updating your OS to 10.8 be the best and then installing the plugin. Works great for me with 10.8.

      The developer has a GitHub page you could post to and a Twitter account. Since I don’t have 10.7, I can’t really advise but hopefully the developer of the plugin can.

      Sorry I couldn’t help further.
      Nancy

  9. Richard Honey says:

    I just went to http://noware-it.zxq.net and downloaded the plugin and ran it and it installed fine under 10.8. The plugin is viewed as a preference when you click the double chevron that appears to the right of the Mail preference tabs.
    I have to say I never personally experienced font issues when running MS Entourage, at least under Snow Leopard, whatever it’s other faults!

    • Mike K says:

      Hi Richard – thanks for the feedback…

      I was finally able to install UnviersalMailer v 1.4. I couldn’t get 1.5.2 to work.

      When I double clicked the downloaded file (1.5.2) my system wouldn’t recognize / open it (again, I am running 10.8.2). I kept getting an error message asking me to choose the application to open it BUT then when I tried to open it with installer (as 1.4 did automatically) another error message popped up stating it didn’t recognize that application (Installer).

      v 1.4 seems to be working OK (running tests today) BUT I am left wondering what’s the difference between 1.4 and 1.5.2 ??? Am I using an older version with older issues like the attachment issue that the developer talks about on his Twitter page (apparently this was fixed in the newest version – this is what he states).

      Anyway – thanks to you as well Nancy for bringing this much needed fix to the forefront. And sorry to use your nice blog page as a “IT help center” ;)

  10. Mike K says:

    Hi,

    I just wanted to write an update – I worked with the developer of UniversalMailer and we were able to get 1.5.2 to work.

    Mike

  11. Léo says:

    Thank you so much for this article and plug-in!
    I’ve wasted so much time trying to solve this.

  12. Andy says:

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks so much for this, it really solved the problem and thanks also to Universal mailer.
    I was wondering what the check box “Use points instead of pixels for outgoing font size” is used for?

    Thanks to comment.
    Regards/Andy – Singapore

  13. Paul says:

    Hi Nancy,
    I am using Lion OSX 10.8.2 and Office 2011. I loaded the software several times and the Universal Mailer didn’t appear in the Preference pull down.
    Any thoughts
    Kind regards
    Paul

  14. Nancy Seeger says:

    Hi Paul,

    Universal Mailer is a plugin for Mail, so far it’s not available for Office 2011 Outlook users on the Mac.

    You might want to ask the Universal Mailer developer on GitHub to have a plugin just for Outlook 2011 for Mac.

    https://github.com/UniversalMailer/UniversalMailer

    Best wishes,
    Nancy

  15. Andy says:

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks so much for this, it really solved the problem and thanks also to Universal mailer.
    I was wondering what the check box “Use points instead of pixels for outgoing font size” is used for?

    Thanks to comment.
    Regards/Andy – Singapore

    • Nancy Seeger says:

      Hi Andy,

      Points are a print style method of measuring font sizes – not as commonly used by email programs except by Outlook. Most email HTML is done with pixels for best compatibility, would recommend pixels over points.

      Kind regards,
      Nancy

  16. Aboud says:

    UniversalMailer used to fix the problem…but now it doesn’t seem to anymore. In fact, I think my signature is appearing even bigger than before.

    • Aboud says:

      Oops. I just watched the video. One thing that wasn’t clear in the post was whether the “Always match my body text font” checkbox should be checked or not. It’s clear from the video that this should NOT be checked.

  17. Eric says:

    Hi Nancy,

    Has anyone gotten Universal Mailer v1.5.2 and Attachment Tamer working together? If so, what are the settings?

  18. Max Mindel says:

    Luca Motta, I gave you a donation on July 29th via Paypal to order Universal Mailer so that I could use your software and remove the embedded line This content has been modified by UniversalMailer plugin for Mail.app. Its use is for non commercial uses ONLY, except by written permission from the author. Copyright 2011 by noware. All rights reserved.”

    However, after paying you, I never heard back from you. Also, whenever I try to go to your website, it just hangs.

    Help!!!
    Thanks.

  19. Amy says:

    How do you install this for Outlook? It is not an automatic option once downloaded in my preferences like it seems to be for Mail in your video example.

    • Nancy Seeger says:

      Hi Amy,

      The Universal Mailer is designed for Apple Mail only. If you check the title – it is to help with Outlook recipients (not senders). It would be great to have a version for Outlook but part of the problem is Outlook’s lack of standardization with observing web standards (W3C). To be honest, none of the email programs are doing well with standardization and are way behind the browser market.

      Kind regards,
      Nancy

  20. David Barton says:

    Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for sharing the workaround. I’ve been having all sorts of fun trying to get my emails sent to my outlook colleague in my desired font! Universal Mailer provides the best solution I’ve found so far.

    For some of my emails (particularly replies) I don’t like adding a sig, which then means Universal Mailer doesn’t kick In as you point out in your post. One tip for those situations is to create a sig with just a single character in it – a . for example. You then set the . to your desired font as you describe above to enforce rich text format. You can also set its colour to white so it doesn’t show up. Use this as your signature and your replies then look as if they dont have a signature. Unfortunately just space characters set to a font don’t seem to work in the sig file, but im going to try inserting some non text html in and see if that helps…..

    Best wishes,
    David

    P.s I don’t think postbox integrates properly with MS exchange – if it did I would probably go with that. Mac Outlook doesn’t sync with iCloud so that’s out for me – no good if you have an ipad or iPhone and wants your reminders and calendar synchronised across devices!

  21. andreas says:

    Hiho, dont know, if this is discussed somewhere.
    I have an image as signature. When I add a pdf attachment, my signature is displayed two times.
    Marking “Force all files as non inline” hides everything, attachments AND signature. So this is not a solution.

    Any ideas on how to avoid seeing signature image two times?

    Thx in advance :)

    • andreas says:

      I have to add: when writing a new mail, signature is there just one time, but once it is sent, it appears two times. On every E-Mail Client.

      Nobody?

  22. Steve says:

    I also have the duplicated signature image file problem when attaching a PDF file on latest version of mail 6.5, osX 10.8.4 and universal mailer 1.5.3. Unfortunately I think it’s been doing this on for the last few versions I think since UM 1.50. I don’t think there is an easy solution for this one at this stage.

  23. Tim Stafford says:

    Great post! Very helpful – I’ve been trying for about six months to fix this and literally just came from Apple’s Covent Garden store in London where they couldn’t fix it.

    I’m a freelancer and I cannot afford to have shoddy looking emails.

  24. Hey all,

    I’ve given up on this a long time ago. I love my Mac dearly and have Universal Mailer installed, but for business, I’m afraid Windows and Outlook is the way to go.

    I just find it rather peculiar for a company that is so focused on neatness and cleanness such as Apple to neglect such an important issue. It really is a shame that Mac users need to use other OS’s to produce something as simple as a neat and presentable email message.

    Cheers,
    Raed

    PS. Outlook 2011 isn’t the best alternative either. Tried that too and prefer Mail with Universal Mailer.

  25. Dan says:

    Have 10.8.5 with Mail 6.6 and UM 1.5.3 and it doesn’t work in any config. Sigs are blown up from size 11 to 18 on reply from any Outlook user. Have mailed Apple but there’s no forum for Mail on the Feedback site. Get Apple! Ha. If I can get fonts and attachments sorted I’ll post. So frustrating!

  26. Alan Lemond says:

    My wife and I are huge fans of Keyboard Maestro, a wonderful app that allows one to create a huge variety of totally customized macros, quickly and easily.

    To deal with the Mac Mail signature/body problem, we just created a macro. This highlights the entire body of the email (including signature); opens the font panel; selects whatever font and point we want (I like 14-point Palatino) and applies it to the text; closes the font panel; and returns the cursor to where it was. Takes one keystroke, and runs in half a second.

    You can use Keyboard Maestro to create other helpful macros for Mail (or whatever). In my case, one activates the “To:” field, types in my wife’s email address, and returns the cursor to the body, ready for typing. Another set allows me to select which email address I’m sending from, and which signature I’m using, with a keystroke for each.

    There are some outstanding plugins out there, and I used to use a good deal. But I’m increasingly realizing that I can often replace those with macros of my own choosing, with no worries about needing to reinstall after upgrading and no compatibility issues with other apps.

  27. Arjen says:

    YOU ROCK! What a great post and solution to this annoying issue. I can now rely on my mails looking professional again. As it is totally frustrating when you send an important mail and in the reply you see that the recipient received a very poor looking twisted end result. Now that’s gone. Thanks! Why Apple/Mac Mail is not having this as a standard is totally surprising to me.

  28. Valerie says:

    This is such a helpful post… I’d been searching for a long time. Thank you!

    A question… I installed Universal Mailer and it fixed my signature (Yes!) but the text in my emails themselves still turns to Times. Did I miss something? Now I have my signature the way I want (in Arial) but the rest of the email is Times. I do have my preferences set under “composing” to Rich Text. Do I need to do anything else?

  29. Valerie says:

    Oh sorry, the recipient is seeing Times. I send it out as Arial 12, and with Mac users it returns as Arial in their replies, but with Outlook users it enlarges and turns to Times. My signature stays Arial, though, (it used to change to Times also before I downloaded Universal Mailer). Now the signature looks perfectly fine when I see it in replies back from Outlook, but the body copy still changes… any ideas?

    • Nancy Seeger says:

      I’m fairly certain you have missed a step. Both the body area and the signature areas are formatted separately so it sounds like your content body hasn’t been set properly. Do you have the box checked for “Force Font for Outgoing Emails” and the font set for Outgoing emails on that same panel? That would be the first thing I would check. Most times when there is an issue, a step has been missed. Please watch the video although I wrote this post over a year ago so some features may have changed.

      Also please don’t forget the developer has a support area, you can also ask him about this (see above in the post for links to the developer).

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