I have a problem that I want to solve after many years of using Mac OS X Mail.app... I generally like to send plain text emails that are full width (format=flowed) and nicely indented for quote levels. When I receive emails that are in HTML my problems begin. I have the option of switching them into plain text before I hit reply (using alt+cmd+p) or after I hit reply (using shift+cmd+t). Please no replies telling me to answer rich text emails with rich text replies. I want my cake on this one.

If I switch to plain text before then generally the plain text will be wrapped to a specific width and also, in some cases I'll get lots of ">" where there should be vertical line quote indents.

If I switch to plain text after then I may loose a lot of the quoting levels. What I want is to be able to end up with clean flowed plain text replies with nice quote levels.

Has anybody else seen this behaviour or seen a plugin/app that can solve these issues?

  • vertical line quote indents are created by the receiving mail app. The actual underlying code is always ">", ">>", etc. So I don't think it matters at the other end if you are only seeing the latter when you are composing. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 14:54
  • Hi Tom, that's not my experience. For example, in some cases, especially when replying to rich text using rich text, I see a mixture of vertical line quote indents and ">". Then things get screwed up. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 15:30
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    I thought you were asking about replying using plain text. Perhaps it would be good to post a screen shot of what you are seeing when you switch to plain text before you reply, etc. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 18:07
  • (Isn't it a pity that we have to specify cake.)
    – Zo219
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 22:57
  • If you could link to a specific email you want help parsing, that might help. Sadly, rich text and html encoding ads so much complexity that a general purpose plug in is not available. I'll share my solution as an answer - but it's more a workaround and not a true all-powerful gadget that can fix all emails.
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


I haven't seen a good universal solution, but have found that by selecting only the bare minimum text I need to reply to, I can often get a clean, clear reply that doesn't need substantial (or even any) clean up when replying in plain text.

Sadly, the best solution for presenting these emails cleanly is a powerful email client like elm. BBedit, Safari's reader and Coda 2 are all in my toolchain for taking a complicated HTML document and thinning it down but it's awkward to send the text to a second program, operate on the document and then get it back into a reply using Mail.

I wish I could serve you up a delicious cake of a plug in, but sadly, the Mail plug in scene isn't lucrative and this use case doesn't have a champion that's programming a better converter than the one Apple has provided.

Of the reviews of plug-ins, these are the best:

And if QuoteFix won't work for you, you may have to program this yourself. It might do the trick by deleting trailing spaces, but without a sample of your mail in question, it's hard to tell.

  • +1 for QuoteFix. I usually set it to quote only the last email to keep replies/forwards clean and use the Show related messages features when I need to track the message history. That along with composing in plain text only, the way I think mail was meant to be (although I may be part of a minority), makes e-mailing quite productive.
    – user36018
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 2:12

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