I'm regularly receiving emails from a well-known public website that read as plain text without carriage breaks or effective hyperlinks. My email client is Thunderbird.

Thunderbird help site doesn't display an answer. And I'm reluctant to complain to the website if the problem is at my end.

Message source for headers includes this:

Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

The content in message source that follows the header is preceded by this:

Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

The content itself in message source reads typically like this:


And, as I've said, the message in the viewing pane is unadulterated plain text.

Can you tell me - where is it all going wrong? Thanks.

Update :

In fact, the body text in source is in two parts divided by a boundary reference. The first is (as above): Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8 Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64. The second is: Content-Type: text/richtext; charset=utf-8 Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64`. So there's no source reference to text/plain. Incidentally, the motobit decoder doesn't understand it either.

  • +1 For the word unadulterated. Brings back memories of my trip to Broadway. – digitxp Dec 25 '10 at 1:50
  • See here where a similar question is asked. – Abbafei Jul 31 '15 at 2:18

I seem to have found the answer. Just by chance, I've received an identical copy of the same message from the same source. Except this second message is formatted perfectly. The difference in the 'message source' is that this one refers to content as: Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8 Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 There is no other content reference made. But this email formats properly in the window pane and includes active hyperlinks.

So at least now I know what to tell the webmaster if the problem occurs again. Thanks for the solution, Jeremy. You're welcome Jeremy!


The message source parts look fine, but that proves nothing.

There are probably two parts in the message, one being Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8 and the other Content-Type: text/plain. If so, text/plain should be first.

As for the unreadable data PCFkb2N0eXBlIGh0bWwgcHVibGljICItLy9XM0M..., that is base64-encoded data. You can decode it here for example: http://www.motobit.com/util/base64-decoder-encoder.asp and see how it looks.

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