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Garbled or Blank Messages

These problems are almost never a problem with Entourage. There are some issues that you will get:

  1. Asian characters in HTML messages may have unreadable characters. This is usually because that area of the text has not been marked with the correct language. It may mean that you have not installed the fonts which contain the characters.
  2. Some HTML messages may look garbled or have pieces missing. This is usually because you have Allow network access switched off. Our suggestion is that you should leave it that way: anything that does not display is probably trying to do you harm.

Unreadable Characters

If you get a message with unreadable characters, you can try:

  1. Changing Entourage>Mail and News Preferences>Read>Languages "Default character set for unlabeled messages."
  2. Having changed this to the correct language, you then need to change Entourage>General Preferences>Fonts>Default fonts for Language to the language you changed the first setting to.
  3. Having done that, you then need to change the actual fonts on this dialog to fonts that support the characters for the language in question.

If you guessed right, you will then be able to read the message. Then you can be rude to the sender about not using the correct character set in the first place. Chances are you will find that they sent from Windows where it doesn't matter (to them) which language they specify.

Missing Parts of a Message

If you get a message that has parts missing (it may be entirely blank) there are two causes:

  1. The message relies on Internet Access and you have this disabled.
  2. The message is using script that is not available on the Macintosh.

In either case, we would recommend that you leave well enough alone: messages such as this tend to be internet nasties such as viruses which could damage your computer. The virus writers out there rather hope you will fall for the old urban myth that Macs can't get viruses. Allow us to assure you that this is not true; it never was true. If you do not have an up-to-date antivirus program running, we are in a shooting gallery, and you are the target!

Some messages are sent in HTML in such a way that they are really simply URLs to web sites. Instead of sending you the text of the message, the sender has simply sent you a command to connect to its website. This kind of message is usually a scam or spam of some kind. There are two reasons that they want you to connect to their website:

  1. They have sent this message to several million of their closest friends and they want to save their network traffic bill by getting you to pay for it;
  2. They want your computer to connect to their server so that they can confirm your email address, track your Internet movements, and send you even more spam.

In either case, we suggest that you adopt the rule that anything you can't read is bad for you; and you learned as a kid not to put your hand in the fire, there is no need to repeat the lesson.

However, if you did want to read this type of message you could:

  1. Go to Entourage>Mail and News Preferences>Read and enable Display complex HTML in messages. (In Entourage 2008 this option is under Security) When you do this, you cause Entourage to use the Internet Explorer display engine to render the HTML instead of using its own lightweight version. Internet Explorer can display practically anything on the Internet, but of course it is a large program that makes substantial power and memory demands on your computer.
  2. If you still cannot read the message, enable Allow network access when displaying complex HTML. When you do this, you give Internet Explorer permission to go online to retrieve the body of the message. And as soon as it does that, the website computer records all sorts of information that enables it to confirm that the email address they sent the message to is valid; and to begin tracking your movements around the Internet so they can more accurately target their advertisements.

In return they will probably reward you with a picture of women being abused. It is a sad fact of life that out there on the Internet you can meet the whole world; but they are not all nice, and they are not all sane.

If you have switched both options on and the message still has not displayed, chances are the message is a little computer program. It may be in Java or ActiveX. Do a View>Source to see which. If the message is in Java and it has not displayed, then you may need to visit Sun's website and obtain a more recent Java Runtime Environment. If the message contains ActiveX, it is not going to display on a Mac because ActiveX is not supported on the Macintosh.

Even in Windows, most wise people disable ActiveX because this is the language many viruses are written in. Sorry: if the message contains ActiveX there's nothing for it but to get back to the sender and request a copy that does not contain ActiveX.