back to article Google shocks world with unthreaded Gmail

Google has shocked the tech world by letting Gmail users "unthread" their inbox — i.e., turn off the tool that was billed as an email revolution when Gmail launched six years ago, but ended up as an infamous annoyance that undoubtedly hampered uptake of the service among all-important business users. With a Wednesday blog post …


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  1. diego

    Utter BS

    I can't see for the life of me why would someone turn threading off. That's the main differentiator in gmail IMO. It's easier to lose emails in a thread in the old (I still use that for work) outlook stile. Never met someone who didn't like threading.

    1. JakeyC


      Hi Diego,

      Can I be your first? I don't like mandatory conversation/threading. Let's meet!

      I don't like having 10 insignificant replies to scroll past to get to the important one I know is there. They're initally collapsed and I can expand them at me leisure you say? I already know what I want, don't make me click once to enter the 'conversation', then again at random to try and expand the relevant portion of it.

      If I know that the reply I was looking for with the important details got sent today, I don't want the past week's worth of crap to be shown at the same time when I click to view it.

      In my experience, a little education of email users into the delights of Reply, Reply-all, Forward, CC and BCC go a long way to a self-regulating 'conversation' feature.


      An Ex-Threaded Conversation user.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge


      It's moronic "developers" who have the same "I love, it therefore you must do too" that trash applications and operating systems alike. Many applications and systems have been ruined by this kind of blinkered (lack of) thinking.

      We're not all alike, we don't all have the same requirements and we don't all like to work the way that a random "developer" has arbitrarily decided that we must work.

      Computers are tools, they're for our (human) use. We should not be slaves to how they happen to work - they should conform to our needs and requirements and not the other way round. If this requires multiple options or even multiple applications / environments then that's fair enough.

    3. Rob Moir

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Just because you like it doesn't mean I do - and vice versa of course, which is why this should *always* have been a *choice*.

      1. Dave Bell

        Sometimes good, sometimes bad...

        I have few enough conversations via email that I could probably live without this feature, but a lot depends on how the other end of the conversation handles their email management. I don't think I shall switch this off, but if the control were finer-grained, so I could switch off conversation-threading as part of a filter, I can see where I might do that.

  2. Jess

    Why would anyone want unthreaded email?

    There's only one thing worse - where people send the WHOLE previous email back to you underneath their answer.

    No wonder facebook is replacing email.

    1. Goat Jam

      Infamous annoyance?

      "That undoubtedly hampered uptake of the service among all-important business users."

      Ah, yes the <whine>but it's not exactly like Outlook</whine> crowd.

      I have to use outlook at work, and use gmail everywhere else and I can tell you that unthreaded emails suck royally once you get past the fact that it is not the same as what you are used to.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Oh delicious irony!

        Outlook 2010 default email list view: "threaded" !! Not a word of a lie, Google have just allowed you to change to the view MS have just departed from.

        Personally I can't see what all fuss is about, threading is a far better method of email viewing than standard and I can't see how all the previous "I can find things faster the old way" excuses fly, sounds like even techies shunning a new system for the familarities of old? Aren't you nay-sayers just like your luser base who don't want to upgrade their Office or Windoze packages?

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Not sure what your point is here..

        If you like threaded view then turn it on - both in Outlook and Gmail.

        If you don't - like me, then turn it off. The point is that whilst I can turn it off in Outlook I had not (until now) been able to turn it off in GMail.

        The argument is not whether threaded is better/worse than non-threaded, but whether or not you can choose to view mails in the way YOU want to.

        Outlook does have a threaded view you know.

    2. petrosy

      Gmail = Awesome!

      When it comes to intelligence, I think Google gives most users too much credit. That is why FBook is so popular.... it appeals to the lowest common denominator...STUPIDITY!

    3. Simon Westerby 1

      Yes there is

      ... when they send you the whole 10 week old email trail, and their reponse is "Yes"


      1. irrelevant


        How about emails that consist of nothing but a 150K Microsoft Word document that turn out to be typed entirely in capitals and making no use of a single Word feature to justify the format...

        Or the time I received some correspondence relating to a job interview that turned out to be a powerpoint document. It took two days and borrowing a disc from my then current job to get it installed so I could open this document - and it turned out to be nothing more than a "how to find us" location map!! argh!

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Does that mean

    that they are going to allow manual threading at some point?

    i.e. the ability to add a message to a thread, and to split a thread?

    1. nickrw
      Thumb Up

      Re: Does that mean


      I love threading, it's the only thing that keeps me sane at work. As a kmail user I have a decent amount of options when it comes to how things get threaded, but I usually have to leave it in subject-based mode or people using crappy clients don't insert the relevant headers. This does lead to messages in threads they don't belong to (I believe one of users' biggest complaints about gmail).

      I have yet to find any mail client where you can say "remove this message from a thread", or even disband a particular thread.

      (On a related note, who else hates "(no subject)"?)

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        (no subject)

        I hate that it's not technically an option here.

    2. Shannon Jacobs
      Paris Hilton

      Higher priority features?

      I think the higher priority feature would be scheduled delivery, especially as an anti-early-morning delivery feature for email that is going to phones.

      Another feature I'd rate higher would be picture removal without IMAP. (It's the attached pictures of Paris Hilton that I want to remove from my email, of course. What a waste of my allocated disk space, eh?)

  4. Milen A. Radev


    "email traditionalists" + "Outlook users" = oxymoron

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      >"email traditionalists" + "Outlook users" = oxymoron

      Yep. Any sentence with "outlook" and "moron" in it is automatically grammatically correct.

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge


    I sure as hell hope this rolls down to Android soon, because it's literally impossible to delete just one email w/o deleting the entire rest of the conversation. (or at least I haven't found how in 3 months of searching...)

    It's progress, at least, at long last.

    I need a "dancing the Snoopy dance for joy, ignoring all my coworkers' bewildered looks" icon, I guess the smiley face will have to do.

    1. alisonken1

      Down arrow next to "Reply"

      You can delete individual messages (even middle messages in a conversation) by clicking on the down arrow next to the "Reply" option on the right. Look for the option that says "Delete this message"

  6. mlo0352

    Just don't understand

    I have never understood how people can be against threaded messaging...It just makes sense. Just like a real conversation, it is a logical flow. Can somebody please give me a good reason against it?

    1. irish donkey
      Thumb Up

      Working in a Business Environment

      Threaded email is a nightmare.

      When you receive a business email you don't immediately respond to the email. You think I'll check this answer before I respond.

      So you go away and check the answer. Then you receive more emails, 'CC' emails 'BCC' emails from others saying are you going to answer that email. All the emails are threaded together so end up with a concertina of emails and you left wondering which is the correct email from the correct person to respond to.

      The amount of emails that get lost, disappear or just get forgotten because they are folded up with other emails.

      Hope this helps. I used to like Googlemail before we went corporate with it. This change will help.

      1. SirWally

        I disagree

        I have used Gmail almost since the service started, and I would hate to lose conversation view. I subscribe to a number of mailing lists, so I frequently read deep-threaded conversations. I have never had the problem you speak of. Finding the correct person to respond to is trivial, and if you need ways to find the messages you haven't responded to, there are a number of options.

        I could see there are times when switching to non-conversation view might be handy, but I can't say I have ever wished that I could do it.

      2. Goat Jam

        @irish donkey

        "When you receive a business email you don't immediately respond to the email"

        Perhaps you should consider sending an "I'll look into that and get back to you" email as a courtesy? Blaming your email client for your own inadequacies seems a bit rich but then that is the way we do business these days eh?

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          @Goat Jam

          Courtesy response?

          I guess you don't work for a big corporate then. My Inbox has quite enough pouring into it every hour without also being bombarded with "I'll look into that" messages, thank you very much.

          Do the world a favour, don't give the sheep ideas.......

      3. Anonymous Coward


        So you're user a threading system that can't arrange by date!?! Without threading you get the same number of emails but instead of being sat together in one big thread they're spread all over your inbox and just as you go to delete 2 pointless BCCs you take out the quote inbetween them too.

        Smacks of luddite talk

      4. Dave Bell

        A solution?

        You can mark the message (that star icon) before you go and do the checking.

    2. Scott 39


      I need to move or delete messages individually, regardless of the thread they are attached to. I need to be able to deal with entirely separate conversations that may have originated from one group email. I may have BCCed someone in a thread. That BCC contact and subsequent conversation may need to be kept ENTIRELY separate from the primary conversation. I may receive many and varied responses to one group message. These messages need to be immediately visible to me, and dealt with separately if needed.

      Essentially, I need to be completely free to organize and conceptualize my correspondence as necessary, and not be tied into one particular vision of email "conversations".

      Threading is a fantastic feature, I agree. it is, however, entirely inappropriate for some email users. In fact, it makes the product unusable, even dangerous and irresponsible, for some of us.

      1. Adam Salisbury

        Wrong client

        If you can't delete a single email from a thread then you either need a new email client, more training on email clients or to be reunited with your carer.

    3. Joe 35

      "Can somebody please give me a good reason against it?"

      Yes, you can lose a reply because its stuffed in amongst the other messages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The liklihood is greater if the same number of emails are arranged randomly in your inbox and not just under one header?

        Is that too much comon sense?

      2. Simon Westerby 1


        I'm too lazy/busy* to read it properly...

        *take your pick

      3. Gilbo


        "Yes, you can lose a reply because its stuffed in amongst the other messages."

        Have you noticed the little star next to each reply in a thread? I use it to mark important replies making it much easier to find the important ones when you need to go back.

    4. Alan Mackenzie

      What's the big deal?

      Threaded messages could be several thousand back from your current head.

      Don't really understand what all this fuss is about - mutt has had the simple key sequences "ot" (sort threaded) and "or" (sort by order of arrival) for decades. With this you do "or", put the cursor on the pertinent message, then "ot" to see it in its thread.

      Is this Google monstrosity something you have to configure rather than a runtime toggle? Yuck!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Now add folders

    Just think how many more subscribers Google could entice if they simply mimic Outlook.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Thumb Up


      I find the tagging feature pretty much exactly mimics folders.


    2. D@v3

      errr.... labels??

      been using Gmail for some time now, one of the first things i did was set up a number of filters to auto label and archive certain types of messages (based on sender, subject etc..). not that difficult really.

  8. DZ-Jay

    Apple Mail Threading

    >> "We would add that with threaded Gmail conversations, it's far to easy to miss an important email as it gets tucked in with countless subsequent messages on the same thread."

    I've never used GMail, so I can't compare, but I particularly like how this is handled in the Mac OS X Mail application: When a new message arrives that belongs to an existing thread, the entire thread is bumped up to the top of the list and highlighted in "bold" letters. Consequently, the thread will remain in this state until all new messages inside it have been marked as read.

    This calls your attention that there are new messages in that conversation, even if the thread was started a long time ago.


    1. splaw

      Make 2 versions for Google Mail users... and one for Luddites

    2. petur
      Thumb Up

      RE: Apple Mail Threading

      Yup, that is how gmail does it too. Love it.

    3. Rattus Rattus


      Yep, that's how gmail does it too.

  9. Spanners Silver badge

    That was Gmails biggest flaw

    The ability to turn it on will be handy sometimes, but I suspect I will mostly switch threading off.

  10. Pablo

    It's About Time

    That is all.

  11. Neil 23

    Thank God for that

    Now if we can just get M$ to dump that bloody stupid ribbon...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      >> Now if we can just get M$ to dump that bloody stupid ribbon...


      Threading has its place, just as other options for arranging / managing / sorting messages also have their uses.

      It's refreshing to see a technology giant recognising that different users have different needs and preferences and that a "one size fits all" approach imposed by software vendors / service providers inevitably alienates some of the user population.

      Well done Google!

    2. Geoff Campbell
      Gates Halo

      I quite like the ribbon.

      It took me a while to get used to it, and it still occasionally trips me up when trying to find a rarely-used feature or option that I know is there, but mostly it works as designed, allowing me to get to the most commonly used features much quicker and more reliably than the old menu system. So, overall, I'd rather keep it, I think. Not that my liking for it is strong enough that I'd complain if it was taken away, mind you, so my support for it is fairly weak.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I also know people who like it....I don't

        But nobody wants M$ to get rid of it (well perhaps some do) ...just give individuals the option to turn it off and go back to proper menus.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    threading made me switch

    Google's threading (*) is what made me switch to Gmail. I hate being without it, or suffering other clients' poor imitations of it.

    (*) Well, in fairness, that and the appalling mess that was Thunderbird 3 when it first came out. I don't know if Thunderbird has improved since then. I loved 2.x but I haven't looked back since switching to Chocolate-Factory Email.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Only part of the story

      Opera, probably because it also does NNTP, has had threading for ages. Sensibly you can set it on a per view basis. I find it makes sense for mailing lists but less for personal e-mail. Fortunately, Opera automatically detects mailing lists and lets you filter them away from personal e-mail. Best of all worlds because you should have a choice. And if that makes me sound smug it's because I am. The mail client is probably my main reason for using Opera.

      Now, if only they'd fix personal certificates and add PGP support...

  13. rahul
    Thumb Up

    I originally hated "threading"...

    ...especially the way gmail implemented it; now, I'm so used to it, and find it so useful, that I can't imagine turning it off. I guess it takes all kinds. At least we GET a choice.

    1. Pablo

      I admit it

      Threading has grown on me, it would have been an excellent feature to have as an option. But as a mandatory "feature" (which is more like a limitation, really) it was very annoying at times. IMHO what they should really do, instead of burying the option in the settings menu is have a simple one-click toggle right in the inbox. Both views have advantages and disadvantages so I would love to be able to use both and switch at will.

  14. Jim Preis

    Mark my words...

    Unthreaded GMail will be a requirement for a new feature within (shakes magic 8 ball...) 11 months.

  15. Sampler


    I have in the past missed work due to threading combined with a client sending several emails on different topics under the same thread so this will be fantastic - I don't need the original email attached underneath a new one, I have brain and within it a memory - plus the reply probably has the entire history in it anyway.

  16. RegisterThis

    Threading / conversations need to be better implemented ...

    Currently, I am actually digging around various outlook plugins to address the whole threading/conversation issue.

    Neither gmail nor outlook get this right ... the issue is with the superflous messaging with replies of replies of quoted replies etc.

    Ideally, you want a single message that represents one 'conversation' of all emails in a conversation with the most recent one at the top. Otherwise, regardless of threading / conversations, you end up with superflous emails. Of course you want it to handle branching e.g. you get replies from different people to the same email - and you want attachments preserved - but you don't want the same stuff repeated over and over.

    Extra points would go to have the ability to be able to click on a message in the conversation and get it presented as an individual email for reply or forwarding at that point of the conversation (with or without preceding history).

    Threading / conversations are great ... but they don't really get rid of the issue of too many repeated (quoted) email messages.

    1. Russell Howe

      There I fixed it for you

      >Threading / conversations are great ... but they don't really get rid of the

      > issue of too many people who haven't got a fecking clue how to use email

    2. drongo


      > Ideally, you want a single message that represents one 'conversation' of all emails in a conversation with the most recent one at the top.

      That's almost what Google Wave did.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "Conversational" threading isn't threading

    I can't wait for this craptastic googlism to go away. I love threads. Threads show you messages entering at various points in the conversational hierarchy. Threads allow you to forward messages to just those you want. Google just munges the whole damn thing together 'cause that's what you really wanted, right? Do threads the right way and they're wonderful. Do it the google way and they're crap.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    A lot of posters here seem to miss the point. And perhaps they have been drinking too much of the Apple Kool-Aid. Let me explain. This change is about choice. You personally might think that threaded conversations are the dogs bollocks. On the other hand, for someone else's particular use case they might really not work. For example, for me at work, I get a lot of machine generated e-mails with identical titles, I don't want or need those to be in an enormous thread with many thousands of entries. I want them in a folder where I can find one by a particular day. Other people have other use cases - many amply described here. What Google have done with this feature though is provided choice. If you think you can't live without threading, then go ahead and carry on as before. If you can't live with threading, turn it off.

    It is a principle that Apple refuse to believe. Take the iPhone. I find I can't use an on-screen keyboard. My typing rate is about 10x below that on a physical keyboard (and I'm talking about a miniature keyboard on a phone). That means I can't own an iPhone. Other manufacturers give me choice - I can have a Droid X or a Droid 2 for example with Motorola. In my case I would get a Droid 2 because of the on-screen keyboard thing.

    Microsoft have recently denied people choice with the Ribbon interface as well. Personally, I've finally decided I like the ribbon interface, but for many users it is still a nightmare. They should really provide you with choice.

    1. beanburger

      Exactly this.

      I don't get this whole argument over whether threading is better. Surely the obvious answer is that it depends on the user and the situation? I find it a nightmare when I'm trying to locate an individual message from a thread, where previously I would just glance down the inbox and find a message instantly if I knew the rough time it was sent.

      Also, I don't see why threading is even necessary if you have mail organised into folders (or using labels in Gmail). But I accept that it's useful for some situations and some users find it better suited to their needs. Horses for courses. Google have done the sensible thing by providing the option to turn it on or off at will. This is what all developers need to be doing - putting choice into the hands of the user rather than dictating what's best for them.

      1. Gilbo


        You're on an IT website that's being read principally by people working in the IT sector.

        You don't seriously expect them to advocate 'choice', do you? Half the people here probably get kicks out of telling their staff what they can't do, rather than what they can, and there are few types of people on this earth more set in their ways than those in IT. 95% of the replies here are either for or against.

        Just saying.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "A lot of posters here seem to miss the point. And perhaps they have been drinking too much of the Apple Kool-Aid. Let me explain. This change is about choice...."

      What was the point of that, other than to provoke? Childish.

      "It is a principle that Apple refuse to believe. Take the iPhone. I find I can't use an on-screen keyboard. My typing rate is about 10x below that on a physical keyboard (and I'm talking about a miniature keyboard on a phone). That means I can't own an iPhone. Other manufacturers give me choice - I can have a Droid X or a Droid 2 for example with Motorola. In my case I would get a Droid 2 because of the on-screen keyboard thing."

      It's not even the same fucking thing! To use the tired vehicular analogy; it's like complaining that Ducatti don't make their bikes with 4 wheels, because **you** can't ride them if they only have 2 wheels! In both instances you have a choice. In the first you have exercised this by, wait for it, NOT BUYING AN IPHONE!!! No-one other than you, not even Apple, are stopping you from using an iPhone! Besides, why on earth would you need to type more than 10WPM on a fekkin' phone?! In the second instance, the choice is to buy a car...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Someone has been drinking too much "kool-aid".

        I suggest you lay off the pizza and sugary drinks okay.

  19. ubersol


    I am sorry, if you can't fucking read the email in front of you, it's not gonna matter which version you use in the long run.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like threads ...

    but I prefer the way Mutt displays them, which is not that different from the way does it, if I recall correctly: display a tree with messages at the nodes and the children ordered according to the newest message in the corresponding subtree.

    If you're having a discussion by e-mail you need an easy way to find the replies to a particular message, and to find the messages to which a message is replying. Basically you need the tree structure. (Strictly speaking it's a DAG as you can write message that is a reply to more than one message but people don't do that very often.)

  21. P. Lee

    Mac Mail ftw!

    Mac mail highlighting of other emails in a thread is great and would be easy for gmail to do. It helps when someone sends an associated email but one which isn't in the thread - i.e. find another email sent at around the same time as one in the conversation.

    It would also be nice if within a conversation the email date was in a clear column so it's easy to read.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google in historic fail

    "Threaded" view as well as various other views existed well before outlook. What killed gmails reinvention of same was probably outlook's broken handling of email by insisting on their own homebrew reinvention of "threads" and (probably deliberately) failing to support In-Reply-To:

    My own email client lets me make and break thread links at will. More people should be weaned off of outlook and exchange because it fscks up email for everyone else. Then again, detecting outlook (and, incidentally, hotmail) is a good clue filter. Users of outlook cannot be expected to spell halfway correctly nor have a working grasp of grammar, nor can be expected to properly quote and trim quotes in their replies. Meaning they're massive wastes of time anyway. With gmail the relationship is much less clear-cut. We'll see what happens next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The worthiness of a human being is determined by their choice of email client

      you're grrreat

    2. Magnus Ramage

      Not everyone chooses their own email systems

      Ever thought that some people may not like Outlook, but may be forced to use it by their employer? That might make their employer's IT managers gormless, but it doesn't say much about the skills of the users.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Breaking the circular reasoning

        Employers that force this on their employees do not tend to retain the people that can do better. People that stick with the default because they do not know any better also do not know any better than to write fscked up emails. And for some reason are quite impervious to all suggestions on how to do better.

        I recall a certain CFO that demanded I dump the FOSS IMAP setup for sexchange Right There And Then because he'd gotten fed up with the long standing problem that his outlook express didn't deal too well with pst files with 10k+ emails in them, something micros~1 documents for a change. They say that the upper limit of usable is around 2k emails. We had already told him what the problem was. He would not hear of it. sexchange was the answer! Nevermind that he was literally the only person left in the company with a micros~1 email-client-like-substitute. Even the rest of his CxO chums were over to thunderbird, and the rest of the company was a mix of just about everything including a large contingent of linux-using developers. sexchange was the answer! sexchange was the answer!

        This CFO is of course an extreme outlier, but this basic lack of clue is endemic for those choosing of their own free will to not use a better client. For those who don't get to choose, they don't get to thrive in a clue-rich environment, so there's no incentive to get better. And every incentive, for those who already know better, to find greener pastures. And then a while later he demanded the very same thing again. And I found myself greener pastures too.

  23. 88mm a.k.a. Minister for Misbehaviour
    Paris Hilton

    Yes No But

    Yes to threaded SMS, no to threaded email, but it's great to have the choice.

    BTW, I'm one of those annoying people who keep EVERYTHING in my reply to help CMA

    Paris 'cause she has a beautiful A :-P

  24. John Sanders

    I'm an idiot

    Because for me threads do not work, I kept getting the wrong email on the wrong thread all the time on Gmail, and found it utterly confusing, having to stop and think every now and then, where the fcuk is that email I need.

    This idiot likes his emails in an orderly time line and in reverse order, newest at the bottom, older at the top. For that I must be an email moron, but thankfully now a happy gmail moron.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you call that "reverse order"?

      Do you normally read emails bottom-to-top too, then?

  25. Seanie Ryan

    shock discovery

    NEWS HEADLINE : People are DIFFERENT !!! Who would have guessed??

    always amazes me the people who post saying "how could you do with/without it"

    ever occur to you that your way of doing it might not suit another person? a little thing called personal preference.

    at least the choice is there now.

    however that said , you are all wrong and i am right !

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Tech dweebs extrapolating from own "likes" to rest of world?

    Boy, could the 50% of you commenters who just say "well it works for me!" as if to imply "so it must be ok", could you all just bog off under a stone somewhere? (That'd work for me!!!) As one AC said, there should always be choice between such approaches, cos you know like, there are pro's and cons to both, and people are different, so millions will prefer one way, millions the other.

    Taking away the choice was, well, evil.

    And who cares about your personal preference, dweeb!!!

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    So linked list management is not one of Google's strong points.

    The rather simple idea that email is *exactly* like a newsgroup is not just simple, it's *simplistic*.

    Google's net news function is strange to use. it's no surprise rolling it out to normal email is when you think about it *dumb*.

    People often have *multiple* conversations with the *same* person.

    Some of those topics *share* an email. OMG!

    Some prove irrelevant and you don't want linked in after a while (might want archived?).

    Probably quite a good idea for people with well compartmentalised linear thought processes.

    Like Google developers?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm for choice

    Novel idea?

    Nope: was getting it with Lotus Notes god knows how many years ago. Mostly I like threading, and I wish I could have it in Thunderbird. I suppose it might be because I am so old I can remember when we used to be able to find letters and carbon copies of the replies filed together.

    I'm still occasionally tempted to get out that old Notes client disc from office days (V 5, I think). It was my favourite mail client.

    BTW: Am I the only one here who has never used Outlook, thick,thin, light, heavy, or whatever form it may come in, ever, in any version at any time? Do I get an award? :)

    1. CD001



      BTW: Am I the only one here who has never used Outlook, thick,thin, light, heavy, or whatever form it may come in, ever, in any version at any time? Do I get an award? :)


      Unemployed or Self-employed?

      For some reason businesses love Outlook, especially when paired with Exchange... though it does have its uses when you need to read someone else's emails (open other mailbox).

      Never used it outside the office - never will.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Rather late

        Unemployed or self employed? Neither, then!

        When the company got around to a domain name and a mail server, I pushed for Lotus Notes and won :)

        The company's file servers and business app servers were Unix, so, happily, there never was an assumption that the mail server would be anything to do with MS.

  29. Big Al


    Anyone else out there think that the polarity of views on threading expressed in the comments to this article is exactly the sort of thing Google is aiming to address through this change?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As it happens...

      that would be the same benighted attempts at "improving" dejagoogle that have given it A Name Of Pure Evil in usenet circles.

      The reasons I see are mainly "trying to 'own' the medium", for great advertising of course, but not so much stopping holy wars. A good mail client will offer multiple *useful* ways to sort email. The key being *useful*, not *invented by google*, which is what *google* is all about. Aw shucks, they gots NIH. google is all grown up now.

  30. Samuel Penn

    You call that threading?

    To be honest, I never realised that was Google's attempt at threading. I just found the layout annoying because it hid everything. In pretty much every decent email (and news) reader I've used, threading displays subsequent replies indented beneath the original in a tree view. You can immediately see which emails belong to which thread, and also see and access individual emails without any extra effort. This also supports sub-threads within threads. To me, this is the natural and obvious way to handle email, and it's been the norm for me since RISC OS email apps back in the 90s.

    I've never liked Google's implementation of this however. Why can't they implement proper threading, with a decent tree view?


  31. dave 46

    Everybody is the same

    They want what they are used to - it has nothing to do with personal preference just entrenched habits.

    Unless you are forced to by work or other circumstance you will use the email client that most fits what you are used to. Same with any software, just ask Microsoft.

    1. John Sanders
      Paris Hilton

      Entrenched habits...

      That must be it, I like cider better than beer because of entrenched habits....

      Well thought dave 46! You solved a worrying human mystery

  32. JDX Gold badge

    Choice not always good

    It's a pretty solid principle that giving non-technical users too many choices isn't always a good thing, let alone giving them exactly what they ask for.

    If every new way of doing things was implemented as a choice between new/old ways, nearly everyone would play it safe and the new ways wouldn't get used. If your company believes it really has an improvement, forcing users of your product to use it isn't a terrible plan - they can always use an alternative product if your vision turns out to be wrong.

    For instance many people here have said things like "I prefer ribbon now but I initially hated it"... if it was an option those people would have turned it off and never found it actually was better (to them).

    Also, didn't Outlook get threaded functionality in 2010? I'm sure I read it somewhere, maybe on El Reg actually.

    Conversation threading is a feature it _is_ reasonable to make optional, but the principle of making _every_ innovation optional is not, your app will end up too complicated for users to manage all those options and they won't ever give new innovations a fair try.

  33. Yesnomaybe


    I used Outlook at work, and got used to that, and found Googles flavour of e-mail a bit counter-intuitive. Was sometimes difficult to find what I was looking for in Google, but I got used to it. I will unthread though, as soon as I can. However: A few years ago, they made us stop using Outlook, and now we are forced to use IBM Lotus Notes. Oh my God does it suck ass!!! It drives people to tears, we remember the good old Outlook days, and we tear our clothes and throw ashes in our hair, but to no avail, they (Our overlords) won't let us use Outlook! We even set up a sneaky POP3, but they found it, and shut it down. And warned us not to try a stunt like THAT again. The second time we got rumbled, they got a bit nasty. Haven't heard anything for a while, perhaps they have given up on our little corner of the empire...

  34. Anonymous Coward

    And this is worth 2 pages of comments?

    All must be well in the world if this is what we're arguing about today :o)

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Conversation View

    I liked "Conversation View", it's the only real innovation in email since its inception.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Most hotly debated feature?

    Personally the most useful feature I could have would be the ability to actually MOVE mail into different folders.

    i.e. have an inbox, and a number of different folders - default view inbox, and then have an "all" folder I could click on to show everything. I don't want anybody who comes over to my desk to see every single message I've received in the "inbox". Sometimes I want to file away messages once I've dealt with them. I know there's a "hide" feature where you can make saucy e-mails from your girlfriend disappear but it would be easier if you could have a separate folder for each girlfriend and file away the message there away from the default inbox.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think

    I think the posts in the comments here highlight why people in IT arn't very popular with more or less anybody. Even Lawyers and bankers are more likely to get invited to dinner parties becouse at least they might have some interesting stories!

    Threaded mail is teh worst!

    Nao Threaded mail is teh best, only newb retards would think it was teh worst!

    You stupid threaded is teh worst you has no brain.

    Why you want choice?! You can't use thread, you dumb!

    Google converxsation not proper thread they need to do it like dis!

    Wot you say? Conversation is best thread!!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Email usage...

    I don't mind Conversation view - aside from Mailing List e-mails in which I can follow the thread.

    At work, I use the "Search Folders" in Outlook a lot due to the volume of mail. I've found its easier to have the mail come into the Inbox as unthreaded (but in date order) and have the Search Folders filter out different views. The ideal on that is that the same e-mail message could appear on different views - depending on whether it was Customer Related, to do with a particular quarter of the year, Friends and Family or to do with a particular document I have written.

  39. William 6

    so gmail is out of beta then?

    seriously, send a newsletter out and see how many conversations appear, many of them.

    next they need to fix:

    allow domains to be white listed

    do not file email from ppl on address book in spam folder

    better spam filtering.

    show in inbox the addresses not in the address book.

  40. Tom Jasper

    Not sure how to feel about this

    Threaded email conversations... yuk - that never worked for me.

    However, with my Droid HD2, I've started using Gmail to backup my SMS's and that's a fantastic thing and even better with threading. I hope we can selectively thread / unthread based on labels.

  41. vic 4

    threading killer

    I'm not saying whether I hate threading or not there, but there is one killer. People often pick a random email and reply to that rather than creating a new one for a new topic. Going through emails randomly to pick out requirements/details/etc is time consuming.

    The ability to order things in the way that helps me to do something (e.g. by date) is a fairly fundamental requirement of pretty much any UI. Anything that forces a one size fits all is pretty poor, give me something that I can choose that best meets my needs at the time anyday.

  42. Nick Pettefar


    Wouldn't be great if you had to click a box which said something like: Send all the previous replies and original e-mail along with your reply? Yes/n ?

    And then: Are you really sure? Yes I Am Sure/n?

    And perhaps even: Positive? Yes I Am Positive!/n?

  43. Ian Ferguson


    Gmail was amazing when it first launched! Then Google invented the Delete button! And now, being able to view all your emails in ORDER! Truly revolutionary. Well done Google. What's next...? Maybe some kind of magical 'preview pane'?!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like most good things...

    Sometimes the threading is great, sometimes it's a hindrance. It kind of depends on who I'm e-mailing, and the nature of the emails. Nice to have a way to turn it off for those occasions.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Threading - ON or OFF

    95% of the time, threading is actually useful - I like it, it's handy when it comes down to the "he said, she said" details, times, dates, part numbers etc...

    But it can also turn into a REAL fucking pain in the arse, when the thread gets a heap of messages in it, and I only want to view and print out ONE of them...

    A choice in these circumstances IS appreciated.

  46. Hans 1

    t i .... hm .... t l e

    Choice is great for the l00sers, thanks google!

    I use FunDaBird for my gmail, thank you very much and have had that feature for quite some time!

  47. Marc 1

    If I needed threaded view...

    ...I'd sort by subject.

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