How to Configure Outlook Express
to send Plain Text only
(for the AMSAT mailing lists)

Note: it is no longer necessary to worry about this for the AMSAT mailing lists.

To use the AMSAT mailing lists and majordomo subscription system successfully, your mail program must be configured to send plain text only. Some users of Microsoft Outlook Express have had difficulty with this. Here are some tips on how to set up Outlook properly.

Note that these tips are based on one particular version of Outlook Express (version 5.00). Details may vary from version to version. These are reasonable settings to use all the time for most people, but you may prefer others. Feel free to use other settings for your other email, but please use the settings suggested here when you send mail to the AMSAT.ORG system.

  1. Start Outlook Express
  2. Pull down the Tools menu and select "Options...".
  3. Click on the "Send" tab.
  4. Click on the "International Settings..." button. For "Default Encoding" select "Western European (ISO)". Depending on your language, this may not be the best setting for general use. But it's the setting you want for using majordomo and sending messages to the mailing lists.
  5. Make sure "When replying to message always use English headers" is checked.
  6. Click "OK" to finish with the "International Send Settings" dialog.
  7. Back on the "Sending" page, under "Mail Sending Format", make sure "Plain Text" is selected.
  8. Click on the "Plain Text Settings..." button.
  9. Under "Message format", make sure the "MIME" option is selected.
  10. Make sure "Encode text using" is set to "None".
  11. Click "OK" to finish with the "Plain Text Settings" dialog.
  12. While you're here, it would be a good idea to make sure that "Plain Text" is also selected under "News Sending Format". That setting is not used on the AMSAT mailing lists, but it is considered bad form to send HTML messages on most news groups.
  13. Click on the "Compose" tab.
  14. Under "Stationery", make sure "Mail" is not checked.
  15. Under "Business Cards", make sure "Mail" is not checked.
  16. Click the "Security" tab.
  17. Make sure "Encrypt contents and attachments for all outgoing messages" is not checked.
  18. Make sure "Digitally sign all outgoing messsages" is not checked.
  19. Click "OK" to finish with the Options dialog.
  20. If you will be using multiple Identities to send mail to the AMSAT system, pull down the "Files" menu and select "Switch Identity..." to select the next identity. Repeat all of the above steps for each identity.
  21. Exit Outlook Express.

Testing Your Settings

You can check whether you've got all the settings right by sending a dummy command to

  1. Start Outlook Express again.
  2. Select "New Mail" to compose a new message.
  3. For "To" enter "" (without the quotes).
  4. Put something you'll recognize later into the "Subject" field, perhaps something like "settings test #1".
  5. In the big box for your message text, put just one word, "which" (without the quotes). This is the command for Majordomo to tell you which mailing lists you currently subscribe to.
  6. Click Send.
  7. Wait a while (a few seconds to a few hours, depending on network conditions) and check your mail. You should get a response from
  8. Look at the response. If it contains a sensible response to your "which" query, then you're set up correctly. A sensible response is either a list of mailing list names, or a brief message stating that you don't currently subscribe to any mailing lists. If you see an error message followed by a lengthy set of instructions, you've done something wrong. The text of the error message may give you a clue. Try again to get all the settings right.

Here is an example of a reasonable response, if you subscribe to a few mailing lists:


>>>> which
The string '' appears in the following
entries in lists served by Majordomo@AMSAT.Org:

List                    Address
====                    =======


Here is an example of a reasonable response, if you don't currently subscribe to any mailing lists:


>>>> which
The string '' appears in the following
entries in lists served by Majordomo@AMSAT.Org:

**** No matches found


This test is not an absolute guarantee that everything is right, but it should catch most common errors.

Created January 22, 2000. Comments to KB5MU. If you find problems with these instructions, please let me know. Permission is granted to distribute this page without restriction.