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Mac OS X Tutorial: Change the fonts of the Mail interface

Using Mail’s Fonts & Colors preference pane, it is possible to change the default typeface of the various text elements and adjust the colour scheme of quoted text in message replies

Whether you have a preferred font type or a compulsion to customise every single item you possibly can, Mail offers a comprehensive set of options to add a personal touch to its interface.
Maybe you want to use a smaller font size in order to see more items or, conversely, you have an aversion to a cramped-looking application interface and prefer to give a lighter feel to its various elements. The Fonts & Colors preference pane is the place to go. The options presented there also give you the opportunity to alter the colour scheme of quoted text in your replies to messages.
In some cases, the choice of a specific typeface can lead to confusion. Fixed- width or mono-spaced fonts, like Courier, or varying width fonts, like Helvetica, can lead to uncertainty with characters like upper-case ‘i’, ‘1’ or lower-case ‘L’. This tutorial guides you through the font settings for the Mail viewer window.


1: Locate the Fonts & Colors preference pane

Open Mail’s Apple menu and select Preferences; the Fonts & Colors section is fifth on the toolbar.


2: Preference pane layout
Fonts & Colors preferences are in two sections. The first lets you change the kind of font displayed; the second (lower) caters for quoted text options.


3: Change the font settings
To change the font type for all the Mail interface panes, click on the Select button next to each of the five text boxes in the first (upper) section.


4: The Fonts panel – part one
This shows all the collections, families, typefaces and font sizes available; a single click on one immediately applies it to the selected element.


5: The Fonts panel – part two
In the present context, most options in the toolbar are not applicable. You can only modify Mail’s typeface and size through the Fonts panel.


6: Fixed-width fonts

For these, always choose from the fixed-width category. This allows the use of an alternate font when receiving a message in an unknown typeface.


7: The fixed-width fallback

Tick the ‘Use fixed-width font’ checkbox to apply it to plain text messages. Thus, Mail always has a fallback solution for messages in an unknown font.


8: The quoted text options
It is possible to modify the colours of the quote-level markers up to the third level. Click the drop-down list and select one of the colours to change the setting.


9: Other colours for quoted text
For a more appropriate standard colour or to help distinguish quoted text, select Other in the drop- down list and pick a colour in the Colors window.

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