Enforce Plain Text Outlook 2010

There are many companies, both large and small, that would like to require their users to use Plain Text only in their Outlook 2010 Emails.  If you have attempted this you have more than likely set up the appropriate settings available in Group Policy shown below.

I even went as far to ensure this setting on the Exchange 2010 Server Side via Powershell.
Where * is the Default Domain.

Set-RemoteDomain -Identity:* -ContentType MimeText
Get-RemoteDomain -Identity:* | fl - will show the settings.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa997857.aspx

After finding that the users were still able to select Format Text and change their text to both Rich Text and HTML I decided I had to dig deeper.

I found that I could manually change this feature while logging in with my account but this only affected my logon experience, not the other users.

With the New Message open click  File – Options

Click on Mail – Editor Options

Click on Customize Ribbon – Main Tabs from the drop down – Format Text – Format
Now you can remove Format and those options will no longer appear.

Notice that the Rich Text and HTML options are now gone and the default is Plain Text.

The next step was to reverse the settings placing the Format Text option back in place. Then I made a backup of the entire registry called B4.REG. I then made the changes listed above and once the settings were in place, I created another backup of the registry called Aftr.REG.
My plan was to use WINMerge to find where they change had occurred in the registry to help me find the control ID for the item that I wanted to disable via Group Policy shown below.

As you can see all I need is the Command Bar ID and I will be able to block it. There is even a link listed
http://officeredir.microsoft.com/r/rlidOffice14RibbonControlIDsO14?clid-1033

Thank You Microsoft!

But as you see this link offers no help whatso ever…  Thanks Microsoft… sigh

Working with the two REG files B4.REG and Aftr.REG showed me nothing of any use. I was not able to find a change in the registry that would show me the needed Command Bar ID’s. I also used Process Explorer and Process Monitor, but again nothing that indicated where this was located in the registry where I could manually change a setting.
After endless Google links that provided endless bad information, I came across a link for this app.

Built-in Control Scanner
You use Built-in Controls Scanner to find command bar names and built-in controls IDs.
http://www.add-in-express.com/products/commandbars-controls-ids.php

I installed this on one of my test machines and opened Outlook 2010 and started a new message then selected the Format Text tab.

I then stated the App with Outlook selected.

 THERE WAS MY ANSWER!

In Group Police I updated  –  User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Outlook 2010\Disable Items in User Interface\Custom  I entered the Command Bar ID’s along with a description.

Enter the Command Bar ID’s here.  5564 and 5565

I ran Gpupdate /Force on the test machine and reopened Outlook 2010 and started a new email message.  As you can see, the Rich Text and HTML Text options are gone.  This will ensure that they users cannot use this option to bypass policy.

I hope this helps someone that has been trying to configure this setting.  If there is an easier way to do this please post the link here.

7 Responses to Enforce Plain Text Outlook 2010

  1. Tim says:

    Fantastic post !
    Thank you for taking the time to share

  2. Ben says:

    Amazing, thanks so much for this!

    Although I don’t want to enforce Plain Text but HTML this has really helped 🙂

  3. Shayne Estes says:

    Can I use this method to DISABLE RTF?
    Thanks!

    • Tim Bolton says:

      I am with a different client now but it should be close to what you need. Also ensure that you have utilized all of the existing Group Policies that are available. If I can I will try to do some testing here…

  4. Till says:

    Wow, you saved me a lot of work there. The custom-IDs for disabling certain menu items are so helpful. Thanks a lot Tim!
    Cheers from Austria

  5. Eric says:

    Thanks for this. I was wondering why the GP wasn’t locking that down. Still not able to get it to lock down the Outlook options for setting default format to HTML.

    Also, for the command identifiers, you can download the developer list of all MS products here:

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=6627

    That will give you the ID’s to all toolbars in all the products. Thanks for the great writeup!

    Cheers!

    • Eric says:

      Nevermind, I figured it out. For the ‘Set Message Format’ it says that if it’s set to disabled, OLK will use HTML and not allow users to change it under options. Microsoft lied .. Surprise :). Setting that to HTML made it default to HTML and lock it down for users. Got confusing there for a moment. Thx again.

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