Outlook 2003 shows html code when To: field is empty

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Outlook version
Older version
Email Account
Hi there,
This is my first interaction ever with a Forum, so pleas be lenient.
There are similar threads, but none of the answers there solved my problem, and they are all closed.
I am using Outlook 2003 on a Windows 10, on a new 64b PC.
Some messages are showing in HTML code, and are therefore unreadable. Same messages show fine on a laptop I have.
After several experiments, I found out that:
- if a message is sent to me, I can read it.
- if the same message is sent to somebody, and I am on the Bcc list, I still can read it.
- If the same message is sent with the To: field blank, and I am on the Bcc list, I cannot read it. It shows up as HTML text.
It took a lot of investigation to discover this, and I saw no reference to this phenomenon in other threads. I hope knowing this this may help you help me, and any other person with the same problem
Thank you.


Outlook version
Older version
Email Account
Thank you Diane,
I saw the virus suggested solution in previous fora, but it did not work for me. I am using Windows' Security and Malwarebytes Premium. I tried disabling both, but it made no difference.
I do believe that the empty "To:" field making the difference is somehow significant.

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
Windows security does not scan email - only 3rd party apps. I have no idea what malwarebytes scans...

When you disabled them, did you send a new message to test? Once broken, disabling the apps won't fix it.


Outlook version
Older version
Email Account
Shouldn't an antivirus affect all messages, , independently of the To: field being blank or not? The problem appears only on messages that have the To: field empty.


Outlook version
Older version
Email Account
No answer in a week! Does anybody have an idea?
Please HEEEEEELP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
Exchange Server 2013
After a LOT of searching I have gotten down to the bottom of this problem. There are actually 2 similar ways that this problem can occur. Both of them boil down to basically the same problem (lack of a Display Name).

1. When the user creates a new email the recipient's address will come from the cache file. If the email address doesn't contain a Display Name the Display Name ends up being ", and when you view the item in your Sent folder you'll see a blank name.

2. When the user does a Reply/Repy-to-All and the address doesn't contain a Display Name you'll notice that the address is Note: The offenders are always displayed in "<" and ">".

You can correct #1. by updating your contacts that don't contain a Display Name, so that future messages WILL contain one.

You can also correct #2 by being careful when using Reply. If you notice an address inside of "<" and ">", right-click on the address, pick Outlook Properties..., and update the Display Name field.

If Outlook were a bit smarter then perhaps it would use the email address, if Display Name == "", but until then keep an eye out, mainly when replying to email.

Hope this helps.
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