Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways

Google Loses Some Threads

Read More:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith

While there have been many good reasons to switch to Gmail, there has also been one big negative.  That challenging feature has been Google's insistence on threading messages into conversations.  As Google said in a recent blog posting, "Conversation view is perhaps Gmail’s most hotly debated feature."

Threading enthusiasts say they spend less mental energy drawing connections between related messages and that their inboxes are much less cluttered. However, Goggle's determination of what makes up a conversation is not always correct.  Sometimes it ties together unrelated emails with similar subject lines, sometimes it relates messages that were written months apart - but with the same subject. The challenge is that once Gmail links messages in a thread - there is no way to tell Gmail that it is wrong and "unthread" these messages.

Even in the face of some of these challenges, Google encouraged users to embrace conversations. Google aruged that emails rarely come just one at a time; they’re usually part of a larger exchange. Gmail would help manage messages more efficiently by grouping related emails into conversations - collections of messages with the same subject line and other similarities. When you read a conversation, you'll see all of the back-and-forth email responses that happen over the course of the entire email conversation.

In fact, until this week, there was no way to turn the conversation mode off at all - not for one message and not for all message.  This has been a challenge as Google tries to woo more email traditionalists - especially those who have grown up on the Internet using Outlook.  These users, and I am proud to be one of them, think conversation view complicates email.  Russ Midford, Senior Information Systems Engineer at Sanmina-SCI, sums it up well. “I personally prefer threaded conversations, but as an administrator who still needs to support some long-time Outlook users on Gmail, the unthreaded option is like gold.”

Finally, after years of holding fast to the conversation threading theme, Google has changed their mind.  In the blog post they said "We really hoped everyone would learn to love conversation view, but we came to realize that it’s just not right for some people."  Google is giving people the option to turn on threaded conversations or mute the feature completely. Within settinga, you’ll be able to toggle off conversation view to see email as individual messages in chronological order

Google consistently provides useful features, like priority mail, in Gmail, but this one feature addresses an issue that has frustrated many, otherwise happy, Gmail users.

Let the email conversations continue - and let the users decide what makes up a conversation.

All articles and comments on have been submitted by our community of users. Please notify us if you believe an item on this site breaches our community guidelines.