An email sent with Content-Type of 'multipart/alternative' (often) contains two copies of the email: one HTML, one plaintext.

Gmail displays the HTML version of the email by default, but how do I view the plaintext contents, just to make sure that it looks right?

I can view the raw text using the "view original" option, but that's not really what I want; there's a lot of escapes visible when doing this, which is not what users would see.


Try clicking the dropdown next to reply and select "Message garbled?"

  • 2
    This is it! I wish they'd make the label a bit more clear though =/
    – bukzor
    May 11 '12 at 6:27
  • I can pass along your feedback. I think it is a trade-off, though. You are clearly a knowledgeable and technical user :) There are many users who are not so technical. A main case where this is useful is when there is an encoding problem, and in that case, "Message garbled" may make more sense than "View plaintext"; they might not understand plaintext could make their message legible. May 11 '12 at 22:49
  • 3
    When composing an email, there's a link labeled "« Plain Text". I feel like you could follow that precedent without issue: "View Plain Text".
    – bukzor
    May 14 '12 at 17:59
  • 2
    "Message text garbled?" doesn't just show the plain text version - for a HTML-only mail, it seems to show the HTML source. So "View Plain Text" wouldn't cover both cases. But I wonder if a non-technical user would even think to look in that menu.
    – Henrik N
    Jul 8 '12 at 10:07
  • 2
    Neither this, nor the answer of @WimpyProgrammer works anymore.
    – benomatis
    Oct 1 '18 at 11:09

It looks like the "Message text garbled?" option in Sarah's answer was removed from Gmail in mid-February 2017.

In the Gmail product forums, user William25 posted this trickier but valid workaround.


1) From the "More" menu, select "Show original"

2) In the address bar, update the "view" parameter in the query string from "om" to "dom"

You can also create this bookmark bar shortcut in Chrome and click on it instead of step 2 as listed above: javascript:window.location%3Dwindow.location.href.replace("view%3Dom%26th","view%3Ddom%26th")%3B

  • 3
    If you're using the "new Gmail" design (as of June 2018), this no longer works. However, if you switch to "classic Gmail", it seems to work.
    – rinogo
    Jun 11 '18 at 18:59
  • 3
    @rinogo Classic Gmail is no longer an option either, so we basically have no solution to this right now.
    – benomatis
    Oct 1 '18 at 11:08
  • 1
    2019: confirmed this doesn't work for 'Load basic html'
    – Pacerier
    May 26 '19 at 15:15
  • Does this mean, that plain text emails are a thing of past, and we shouldn't even bother sending a plain/text alternative even for those people who "prefer" plain text emails? Aug 28 at 5:11

In 2019 you can go to the email menu tree dots button (top right) -> Show original

You should now see the text Original message on top.

Scroll down to Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

The text should be below this.

This only works if the email has a text part.

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