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Email Tips: What's With That J? Plus Thunderbird Tweaks

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#1 TheSentinel


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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:43 AM

Email Tips: What's With That J? Plus Thunderbird Tweaks
Here's why the letter "J" inexplicably appears in some messages, and how to customize Mozilla's Thunderbird email client.

By Rick Broida, PCWorld Jan 18, 2012 12:41 am

Last week I answered a couple of reader questions... so this week I'm tackling a couple of mine.
Why Does the Letter 'J' Keep Appearing in My E-Mail Messages?

Have you noticed the strange, inexplicable, seemingly random appearance of the letter J in some e-mail messages? Usually it crops up at the end of sentences, though sometimes it lands smack in the middle of them.

What's going on here? Some weird virus? Do a lot of people accidentally fat-finger the letter J? Or is "J" some new hip-hop slang, as in, "Dang, that new LMFAO tune is so J!"

No, no, and no. What's happening here is that someone sent you a smiley emoticon, but your mail client didn't display it properly.

For example, in Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail client I use and detest, when I type a colon and right-parenthesis, then hit Space, Outlook converts this popular "smiley" emoticon into an actual little smiley face. (I'm sure there's some way to turn off this "autocorrect" "feature," but wading into Outlook's endless and mysterious settings menus makes my brain cry.)

The recipients of that e-mail may see that same smiley face (or one like it), or they may see only a letter J--especially if it's a smartphone- or Web-based mail client. In Gmail, for example, you see that J in the abbreviated e-mail body that appears when viewing your inbox. (When you actually open the message, however, the smiley should appear.) I've also noticed this in my iPhone's inbox.

So that's the explanation in a nutshell: the J appears when your mail client can't properly render a smiley icon. Weird but true!

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