F

Visitor

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15 Messages

Sat, Nov 27, 2021 8:56 PM

HTML formatted e-mail to self being returned in plain text + winmail.dat file

Using Outlook 2016, I create an e-mail in HTML format and send it to myselt for testing how it displays on a smart phone. 

When I use a browser to acesss my mail via  Xfinity mail, I sometimes seee the following.

  1. In "sent" mail I see the mail formatted exactly as I composed it in Outlook.
  2. In my "inbox" I sometimes see the mail in plain text plus a winmail.dat file.  

What is odd about this is if access the mail through Outlook (via IMAP), Outlook can read it and format it correctly.   But if I access the mail on an iPhone (again via IMAP) I see the plain text plus the winmail.dat file that I see via the browser, which is or course useless.  

It seems that somewhere in the round trip between sending and receiving the e-mail some setting is getting canged that causes the IMAP server to return the wrong format.   And BTW, if you examine the e-mail in the "inbox", it looks like it is served up as an .rtf format. 

This suggests that the mail message is correctly formatted on the backend, but is being incorrectly served up to the browser interface and the iPhone. Outlook can read it becasue the format being served up is one created and understood by Outlook.

And BTW, this is due to some recent change.  It was working just fine the two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Note: This seems specific to Outlook.   If I compose the same message in the Xfinity web e-mail interface and send it to myself, it appears correctly formatted when viewed in the inbox and when viewed on an iPhone.  

BruceW

Gold Problem Solver

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23.3K Messages

2 m ago

... Outlook 2016 ... plain text plus a winmail.dat file ... 

Change the format in Outlook from RTF to HTML, or to plain text. See https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/how-email-message-formats-affect-internet-email-messages-in-outlook-3b2c0536-c1c0-1d68-19f0-8cae13c26722.

Visitor

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15 Messages

2 m ago

I am aware of the info in the link you posted.    As indicated in the header of the original post, the email in question is in HTML.   This e-mail is normally sent to 50 or more recipients, some of whom are reading it on smarrphones, some on PCs using a browser or with some other mail reader such as Outlook.   As far as I know, the target audience has never had a problem until recently.   Composing these emails in HTML with Outlook has worked flawlessly for over two or more years until about the last week of November 2021 when something changed, either in Outlook or the Xfinity backend.  Hard to tell which.  What makes this worse is that most messages composed in HTML do not exhibit this behavior, making it difficult to create test cases.  But here's one way:

Using Outlook connected to a comcast.net account, create a simple one-line HTML message reading

Red Test Message

with the subject reading "Red Test Message" and send it to yourself so you can view it in both the Xfinity "sent' and "inbox folders,  In this case it should look the same in both views.

Then in Outlook in the "Sent" folder, open the message you just sent, remove the forwarding infomation from the beginning of the message and send it to yourself again.  This message should have "FW: Red Test Message" as the subject. This time the view of the message in the Xfinity "sent" and "inbox" folders will differ.  The "inbox" view will show as plain text plus a winmail.dar file.  If you happen to be able to read this message on an iPhone, it will show as it the same way.

So the act of forwarding a properly formatted message, makes some change that causes the received e-mail to be rendered in an unexpected way.   Not surprisingly, Outlook will render the message correctly when the message is viewed that way,   

Note:  This behavior may be highly dependent on the version of Outlook you are using.  I am using Outlook 2016 installed on my PC. You may find this works w/o a problem with other versions.

Regardless. one would expect, if a mail is sent to oneself, you would get the same rendering in both "sent" and "inbox" folders. 

(edited)

BruceW

Gold Problem Solver

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23.3K Messages

2 m ago

All I can tell you is that the only source I know of for "winmail.dat" files in email is MS Outlook and MS Exchange, which generate the file to support Microsoft's proprietary RTF format. I've never heard of anything else creating that file.

Could you describe in a bit more detail how you are testing the appearance of messages in the webmail "sent" and "inbox" folders? I'm uncertain where these messages were composed and how they got into the two folders. Just now saw your update.

(edited)

Visitor

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15 Messages

@BruceW 

See my previous reply which I have updated.  I just now discovered one "simple" way to reproduce this, but its likely very dependednt on the version of Outlook you use.

Visitor

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15 Messages

@BruceW 

This is getting really ugly.  Things seem to be changing in real time.   Now if I create my simple test message from scratch it appears in the sent items folder correctly but comes back in the inbox with a winmail.dat file.   If I view the source of the message in the "sent" folder, there is no winmail.dat file!    My guess is the mail is going through an exchange server somewhere and getting converted to MSO format.   Why, I have no idea.

BruceW

Gold Problem Solver

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23.3K Messages

2 m ago

"... My guess is the mail is going through an exchange server somewhere ..."

Are you sending through smtp.comcast.net to your @comcast.net email address, or does the mail follow a different path?

(edited)

Visitor

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15 Messages

@BruceW

Yes.  I am sending through smtp,comcast.net. Reading via imap.comcast.net. 

I do have another account that reads through pop.comcast.net.  The faulty messsage always display properly when sent to that account.

Here is some more data.  To take Outlook out of the picture, I composed my simple test messge in the Xfinity browser interface and sent it to myself.   The sent message and inbox versions displayed identically and both render as expeccted on an Iphone.  This is as it should be.  I examined the source of both messages.  The HTML is much simpler that that produced by Outlook and is identical in both versions of the e-mail.  But the body of the "sent" e-mail is duplicated in the inbox version.  Clearly some re-writing of the mail message is happening from "sent" to "inbox". In this caae, it is harmless. 

(edited)

BruceW

Gold Problem Solver

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23.3K Messages

2 m ago

"... the body of the "sent" e-mail is duplicated in the inbox version ..."

When using webmail's HTML Compose and its View Source function, the resulting email appears to contain both a plain text ("Content-Type: text/plain") version and an HTML version of the message I wrote. Is that what you mean?

In the testing I've done with messages composed in webmail and sent to myself, the header portion of the message that arrives in the Inbox is much larger than the one in Sent, but the bodies of the Inbox and Sent messages are identical.

(edited)

Visitor

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15 Messages

@BruceW

I wemt back and checked.  You are correct, except for the headers in the "inbox" version,  the bodies of the "sent" version and "inbox" version are identical.   I must have had made a mistake with copy-n-paste to notepad.   Sorry about that.

I had a look at my Outlook installation.  There appears to have been a major update on 11/12/21 a bit before the time I first experienced this issue.    But the question remains as to why the round-trip through the Xfinity environment results in a downgrade to RTF format. I.e., plan/text + a winmail.dat file.

I think I have a workaround.  First, compose the desired e-mail in webmail and send it to myself.  Check that it formats as desired on an iPhone.  Now using Outlook, view the message in the sent folder and resend it after adding the desired recipients including myself.  

(edited)

Visitor

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15 Messages

Late Tuesday,11/30/2021,  I retested my work around and the method for testng and resending the e-mails in qustrion,  Now,both approaches worked as expected.   Go figure!  My original guess that Comcast was changing / updateing it's infrastucture is probably correct.  

This not worth spending any more time on.

Visitor

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1 Message

16 d ago

I am having a similar issue.  I am receiving winmail.dat attachments on my macbook pro and iphone, even though my office is trying to send me .pdf attachments.  They use Microsoft Outlook and an exchange server.  I get .pdf attachments just fine from other senders - just not my office.  This issue has been ongoing since last spring.

Visitor

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15 Messages

@tblfpc

See the comment by  @BruceW above.   This is most likely caused by Outlook in combination with Exchange.  Your office system administrators ought to be able to fix this.

One obvious question is what format is the office using to send the mail with the .pdf attachment: text, RTF or HTML? If  not HTML, converting to RTF  + a winmail.dat is a likely result.   Outlook can interpret such an e-mail, but iPhones cannot.

 

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