Why do I see strange characters in messages?

Some users complain that they are seeing weird character combinations in messages instead of punctuation marks. Typically, these are three-character groups like ’, or sometimes or ¿. There are two different but related factors at work here:

Sending messages

Examples of straight and curly quotation marks and apostrophes

For some reason, WLMail 2011 converts “straight” quotes and apostrophes to “curly” ones. This will with some settings involve using Unicode characters, so the message will be transmitted using Unicode (UTF-8) encoding regardless of the setting at Options > Send > International settings. If the recipient then tries to view that message using another encoding – like Western European – he will not see the characters you intended him to.

Reading received messages

WLMail will use the encoding specified at Options > Read > International settings if Use default encoding for all incoming messages is selected. Otherwise, it will use the encoding specified in the message headers, or if none is given, its best guess at an encoding based on the content of the message. If you see weird characters in a received message, click the Encoding button on the ribbon and select a different one, like Unicode (UTF-8). If the wrongly-displayed text doesn’t change, it may have been hard-coded into the message by the sender, for example by forwarding or replying to a message wrongly displayed at his end.
I find it best to leave Use default encoding for all incoming messages  not selected.
To change the sending behaviour, either:
  • Press Backspace or Ctrl-Z or click Undo after entering a quotation mark or an apostrophe, or
  • Make a registry change to stop the behaviour altogether. To do this,
  1. With WLMail closed, type  regedit  into the start search box and press Enter. Give permission where necessary.
  2. In the left hand pane, navigate to
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows Live Mail\ Compose\ Preferences\ PostEditor\ Autoreplace
    and click on Autoreplace.
  3. In the right-hand pane, double-click on each of the four Names where the Type  column reads REG_DWORD. In each case, type 0 into  the Value data  box and click OK.
  4. Press F5 and then close the window.
  5. Launch WLMail and test.
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