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Louis Kessler's Behold Blog » Blog Entry           prev Prev   Next next

Question Mark Before Email In Text Format - Mon, 20 Sep 2010

For about a week, I had been sending out emails with a question mark at the beginning. So I would type:  “Hello John,” and in the email sent, it would appear as “?Hello John,”. That not only looked dumb, but also made me feel like a moron after I found out they went out that way.

The problem was it got added when I hit the “send message” key. Usually I do my send/receive messages shortly after and whoosh, off they go.

I only noticed this yesterday when I went back to edit an email in my outbox and I saw the question mark there. I deleted it, made other changes, and sent it. In the outbox it had the question mark again. Good grief!

I looked through my past emails, and for the last 5 days or so, all my emails sent had this leading question mark. What had I done about 5 days earlier? Well, I installed the new Internet Explorer 9 beta.

In searching for a solution, I had thought of upgrading my Windows Mail to Windows Live Mail. But then I found just a few hours earlier someone had posted a message with the same problem in WLM. That made me even more suspicious that it was IE9 beta which only came out about a week ago.

There are a couple of solutions. (1) Use HTML email instead of text. I didn’t want to do that. It adds bulk to your email and may increase the chance of your email being seen to be spam. (2) Use UTF8 encoding for outgoing messages, which works, but does give a horribly-looking default font in Windows Mail. I suppose I could change that if I searched how.

Or some extreme measures: (1) Continue to use it as is sending ? at the beginning of the email like everyone eventually would be, (2) Try uninstalling IE9, or (3) switch to a completely different Mail Client.

Fortunately, in my search for a cause and solution, I ran across a post 4 years ago: OWA Question Mark Included In Outgoing. It appears that the IE9 beta install may be downgrading a dll file that the mail programs use. Sure enough, when I ran the commands to deregister and reregister the triedit.dll file, it fixed the problem. Followup: As it turns out, this was not the solution. It seems that changing the encoding to UTF8 is the best workaround.

The IE9 beta is generally okay. It has some really good new things, but there are a few user interface features they changed away from my liking.

I’m sure this particular question mark problem will turn out to be quite prevalent, so the IE9 team will probably fix it before the final release. In the meantime, if you want to see the conversation about this, you can look at the discussion of the problem.

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