J Smiley Outlook Email: Problem and Fix!

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What’s up with that J, yo?

I’m going to assume you’re using Microsoft Outlook 2010 at this point – or you know someone who uses it. But even if you’re not in either camp, you should pay attention.

The following fix applies to every single Microsoft Office program that uses its universal AutoCorrect feature. I’ve tried to address this problem with the Office team directly, but have been routinely ignored. I’m not slagging Outlook, either; I used and loved Outlook 98 / 2000 for the greater part of a decade (because 2003 and 2007 were inferior for non-Exchange users in many ways, but that’s not what I’m writing about today).

Essentially, you’re going to fix a bug that Microsoft has kept open for several years. Well, it’s not a true bug – so long as you NEVER email someone who isn’t running Windows, and so long as you DO NOT use HTML email. Not likely. It bugs just about everybody who doesn’t live in Outlook.

For some inexplicable reason, somebody at Microsoft thought it wise to autocorrect “:)” as a truer smiley when composing rich text documents and/or HTML email – rendering it in a specific font face (WingDings). This is why people think you’re crazy for injecting a random “J” in emails – they don’t have the same font(s) installed on their machine! And even if you have WingDings installed, you may only still see a J where a smile should clearly be.

So, there’s a simple fix that’ll make your emails 100% more intelligible (as far as smiles are concerned). Delete the autocompletes.

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook (if it’s not already open).
  2. Fire up the Options panel (found under the File ribbon).
  3. Click open the Mail tab. You should see a “Spelling and Autocorrect…” button. The “Editor Options” panel will launch.
  4. From there, click the “AutoCorrect Options…” button. The “AutoCorrect: English (U.S.)” properties pane is what you should see next.
  5. Under the default “AutoCorrect” tab, look to the “Replace text as you type” section.
  6. Click the “Delete” button.
  7. Repeat these steps for the other smiley autoreplacements.

Enough with the J stuff, already. ;)

I want to call your attention to another Office QA oversight. They mis-capitalized “AutoCorrect” (leaving the “C” in lowercase within this particular pane). That wasn’t my typo.

Yes, I notice the small stuff – and then I do my best to fix these problems for the entire galaxy. You could replace the WingDing’ed smiley with a UNICODE smiley, but you may run into other encoding issues at that point. If you want to have more fun with UNICODE characters, check out funicode.com.

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