How to Format Emails on Mail for Mac the Easy Way

Mar 21, 2019 - 10 Comments

How to format emails on Mac Mail

Want to format your emails for some extra style and pizazz on the Mac? If you want to change the style and format of emails in Mail for Mac to customize the appearance of any email composition, forward, or reply, you’ll find there’s an optional and handy email formatting toolbar that can be made visible and used at any time in Mail on the Mac.

The Mail Format bar will give you controls to change and set email font family, font size, font colors, bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, align left, align center, align right, insert bulleted and numbered lists, indent and outdent, and more.

How to Format Emails on Mac with the Mail Format Bar

  1. Open Mail for Mac
  2. Open any email compose window, either a new email composition, a reply, or forward
  3. Look at the top of the mail composition window and click the [A] button
  4. How to show and use font formatting options in Mail for Mac

  5. The email formatting panel will appear at the top of the email composition window
  6. How to format emails on Mail for Mac

  7. Stylize and format your email as desired and send it as usual
  8. Using the email formatting options on Mail for Mac

The Mac Mail format bar options are significant, looking from left to right at the format bar and using those tools can allow you to change the format, style, and appearance of emails with the following formatting options:

  • font family
  • font size
  • font color
  • font background color
  • bold text
  • italic text
  • underline text
  • strikethrough text
  • align left
  • align center
  • align right
  • insert bulleted and numbered lists
  • indent and outdent

Many of these email format options also include associated keyboard shortcuts too, like command+B for bold and command+I for italics.

You can stylize and format the appearance of an entire email by adjusting the settings right away, or you can stylize and format email appearances by manually choosing the format options as you compose an email.

You can also select specific text or characters and stylize those independently from other text in the email window.

Using mail formatting options will require the message to be sent as rich text, so if you’re using plain text for emails you would need to convert the email message to rich text.

If you’re attempting to format an email that is set as plain text, the Mail app will ask if you want to convert the plain text email to rich text.

Convert a plain text email to rich text on Mail for Mac as necessary to use mail format options

You can convert an individual email from plain text to rich text without it changing the general email composition setting for plain text.

It’s probably worth pointing out that this is intended to stylize and format specific email options, and is not intended to be used as a method to change all of Mail fonts or their font size. If you do want to change the Mac Mail font and font size you can do so with these instructions however, which can be used to improve readability of emails on the Mac client.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Robert says:

    My biggest frustration with Mail is line spacing. Sometimes I want single spacing and sometimes double spacing. How can I do this?
    Thank you

  2. earl says:

    Your Mac tips very informative, I’m a believer (subscriber). Re the emojis I don’t have the smiley face: I have ‘reply to sender’ ‘attach a document’ ‘include attachments’ ‘ show format bar’ ‘show or hide photo browser’ ‘show stationery pane’
    Would appreciate advice on how to get the emoji onto the format bar
    Thanks, earl.

  3. Craig says:

    If the email recipient does not have the font installed on their system that I use in my email, will their mail program use their default or will it use the font I used?

    • John says:

      the recipients Email app will use default fonts; and cannot appear your font if it does not installed on the recipient Email app or operation system

  4. Constance Hart & Conscious Colors says:

    I appreciate your E News SO much! I would love to know how I can add my logo jpg in my Mac Mail signature? Any way you can direct me to the answer please?

    Thank you for your consideration.
    Constance Hart

  5. Michael Kemper says:

    I do not get an “A” at the top of the message window in Apple Mail 12.2 (3445.102.3)

    • Paul says:

      It should be visible by default in the Mail app, unless the toolbar is not visible or the toolbar was customized.

      Generally to find the Format button in Mail app, you must open a new email composition window, whether that’s to write a new email, reply to an email, or forward an email.

      If the Format button (the “A” button) is not visible at all, it may be because the Mail Toolbar is hidden in your Mac Mail app. To show the Mail Toolbar, do the following:

      – Pull down the “View” menu and choose “Show Toolbar”

      If the Toolbar is already visible, you might need to choose “View” menu and “Customize Toolbar” to add the “A” format button to the Mail Toolbar that way.

      Hope that helps!

  6. John Galt says:

    Thanks for another helpful suggestion.

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