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HTML mail is a pain to read on a phone. The screen is too narrow and the images take too long to download. Typically without the images the mail is just useless.

HTML mail is only slightly less of a pain on my desktop, but there I can use Mutt and just read the text/plain part if it exists. Is there a way to make my mail client default to reading the plain text part of the mail rather than the HTML part? My mail is on an IMAP server, so I use the default Android mail client. I looked at K9 Mail too but it doesn't seem to have a way to do this either. I don't use Gmail and for a variety of reasons I have no interest in using it even if it solves this problem. Any other suggestions welcome, thanks!

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K9 can open an email without displaying the images. There's a Show Pictures button in case you want to see the images. What problems are you having? –  geffchang Aug 23 '12 at 10:36

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On my device (Samsung Galaxy S3 with Jelly Bean 4.1) I could change this by setting the "Size to retrieve emails" to the minimum (2kb here) on the account settings in the email app.

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