One of the new features in macOS Ventura on the Apple Mac is rich links in emails. What does this mean and how do you use them? Here is how to use rich links in emails with the Mac Mail app.
According to Apple: “Add rich links that give your email messages more context and details at a glance.” They are not explained, but it is very obvious what they are when you insert a link into an email you are writing in the Mail app. It’s not mentioned in online Mac mail documentation or in Mail app help, but it means Link previews.
A link preview is similar to what you see when you share a link to a website or web page on social media. Instead of the text-based URL, which is pretty meaningless, or sometimes as well as it, you see the featured image and title from the linked page. This makes social shares much more visually interesting than a plain text link.
Here is an example of a link preview in the Mac Mail app:
See how it looks very like a social media share? It is much more visually attractive and informative than a plain text link. Let’s see how to create great-looking emails in the Apple Mail app on a Mac.
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Quick guide to rich text links
Here is a quick guide to rich link previews in Mail on the Mac. Go to Detailed guide to rich text links further down this page for a longer look at it.
Rich link previews vs plain text URLs
It depends on how the Mail app is configured, but many people find that pasting a link into an email they are writing shows a rich link preview by default. What if you don’t want to show it? What if you just want to insert a plain text URL? How do you stop Mail inserting rich link previews?
Move the mouse over the link preview and a v button appears on the right. Click it to show a menu and then select Convert to Plain Link.
Suppose you always want to show plain text links in emails? There is no on/off switch for rich link previews, but you can set Mail to create plain text emails by default and these only show plain text links.
Go to Mail Settings (Preferences) and select the Composing tab. At the top under Composing, set the message format to Plain Text. Links will always show as plain text.
If Mail is already set to plain text emails, read on for how to convert them to rich text on the fly and insert rich link previews.
Detailed guide to rich text links
1: Plain text links in emails
Open the Mail app on the Mac and create a new email. Click in the message body and insert a link. The easiest way to do this is to copy a URL in Safari with Cmd+C and then paste it into the email with Cmd+V.
What you see depends on how the Mail app is configured and you may see a text URL or a link preview. Suppose you see a plain text URL as shown in the screenshot. This is OK, but it is not visually attractive and it does not tell the recipient of the email much about the web page being linked to.
2: Add a link to an email
When you paste a link into an email, if you see a text URL, go to the Edit menu instead and click Add Link. This is not the same as pasting in a link, as we will see.
3: Plain text vs rich text emails
Whether links pasted into emails show plain text URLs or rich link previews depends on whether Mail is set to create plain text or rich text emails by default. If the default email format is plain text, this message appears and it asks if you want to convert the message to rich text format.
My Mail app is set to create plain text emails by default, so when I select Add Link, it asks if I want to convert the message to rich text. Click Convert if you are the same.
4: Add the link
Now a small box appears for you to enter the URL of the link. Click in the box and press Cmd+V to paste in your URL, and then click the OK button.
5: Links in rich text emails
Hang on a minute, isn’t this exactly the same as before? Yes and no. It does look exactly the same, but move the mouse over the link and see what happens.
6: Mail link menu
A down arrow appears at the right side of the link when the mouse hovers over it. Click it to show a menu and then select Show Link Preview to convert this plain text URL into something more visually interesting.
7: Rich links in emails
The link URL is hidden and it is replaced with a link preview, which is very similar to the sort of thing you would see if you shared the link on social media. We now have a great image in the email and below it is the title of the page.
This is exactly how it looks to the recipient of the email. They don’t see the URL, they see the image and title instead. Clicking it opens the default web browser and shows the web page, just as it would if this was a social media share.
Do other email services support rich link previews? It depends. It works fine with Gmail and other poplar services. However, it is possible with some email services to set them to not show images. If someone has their mail service to hide images and show only text, then text is only what they will see. Most people will see the link preview though.