Gmail threading gets kill switch

Google announced today the ability to disable Gmail's email threading (conversation view) feature. Conversation view has been one of its most hotly debated features since the service launched in 2004.

With more corporations and large organizations using Gmail as their primary email solution, Google wants to give people who don't have the choice of switching to another service, a non-threaded option. The company says that the feature will make the transition easier for former users of "legacy solutions" (i.e. Microsoft Outlook), who aren't used to the threaded conversation view.

Comparison between conversation view and non-threaded option

Gmail was originally created out of Google's frustration with traditional e-mail systems, over time gaining millions of mainstream users. Many people started using Gmail specifically for the threading feature, saying that it makes it easier to follow a conversation and cuts down on the number of items in your inbox. Some users, however, disliked the feature from the start, even rallying against it.

Google's Wiltse Carpenter compared the frustration with threaded Gmail to the backlash over cilantro. "And just as an outspoken minority has banded together in unison to declare their distaste of one of nature's most delicious herbs, some of you have been very vocal about your dislike of conversation threading," he wrote in a blog post.

Users can toggle between the conversation view and the non-threaded view through the main settings menu. Google will be rolling out conversation view settings over the next several days.

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No way I can live without conversation view in it
Outlook 2010 Conversation view doesn't really work as well as Gmail unless if I'm missing something cause all emails without subjects are clubbed ?? whether they are related or not

No way I can live without conversation view in it
Outlook 2010 Conversation view doesn't really work as well as Gmail unless if I'm missing something cause all emails without subjects are clubbed ?? whether they are related or not

I read this and took a screenshot of the option's location, then sent it to my boss to distribute to everyone. While we all agree that the conversation view is brilliant, there are certain members of staff who will disable it so that their inbox looks more like Outlook. They're mad, personally. But to each their own, I guess. It's nice of Google to add the option.

I now know why all this Google's unhappiness is coming from. And because of that unhappiness they are going to the point of insulting their customers.

They have to "stoop down" to Microsoft or Yahoo way of handling email. And some people just do not like the Google's "next best thing" after sliced bread.

It is just like Microsoft giving you an option of Blu-ray with Xbox 360.

Funny how no one is pointing out yet another feature that Google is copying from Microsoft's properties (even the post itself). I'm quite sure if Microsoft hadn't given that as an option in Hotmail, Google probably would have kept it with no option to not have threaded messaging.

This is why competition rocks.

Quikboy said,
Funny how no one is pointing out yet another feature that Google is copying from Microsoft's properties (even the post itself). I'm quite sure if Microsoft hadn't given that as an option in Hotmail, Google probably would have kept it with no option to not have threaded messaging.

This is why competition rocks.

You are aware that the only reason it is an option in Hotmail is because GMail mastered the conversation/threaded view and Microsoft was forced to keep up right?

This isn't a case of Google copying from M$, it is a case of Google giving users the option of using an antiquated method of viewing email as opposed to the superior method they have offered from the start simply because enough people whined that they couldn't handle change.

Quikboy said,
Funny how no one is pointing out yet another feature that Google is copying from Microsoft's properties (even the post itself). I'm quite sure if Microsoft hadn't given that as an option in Hotmail, Google probably would have kept it with no option to not have threaded messaging.

This is why competition rocks.

Oh my god dude. You're using periods and parentheses only because I started using them, you're copying me. <-- see how terrible this "copying" logic is?

TonyLock said,
I wish Outlook used threaded messages.
It does in Outlook 2010. I *think* there is a way of doing it in Outlook 2007, there is a sort view by conversation option (I'm fairly sure) however, it's pretty crap and I immediately disabled it should be getting Outlook 2010 in due coarse at work anyway so all is good

Our Exchange server was recently updated to Exchange 2010 too and that has the new Outlook Web App, which also has threaded messages. It's fantastic

:: Lyon :: said,
Conversation threading is the best feature ever in email clients/services O_o
Can't believe why people would want that off

make it easier for me.

Giving users choices with regards to the way they use the interface. Imagine that.

Maybe sometime in the next few years the Gmail team will implement sorting messages by something other than timestamp. Or perhaps even a preview pane. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though...

I want my Outlook (work) to be just like Gmail (personal email). I've lost track on some emails because my inbox is saturated with maybe the same subject but repeated 6 times one after the other, and a different subject in between repeated 4 and repeated 6.

I think choice is always a good thing but on the other hand I might not of started using threaded conversations in gmail if I wasn't forced to. Originally I hated it but I now love it and couldn't imagine going back...

Yeah conversation views are priceless IMHO. Another area where it is great to have it is for SMS apps on phones. The default Nokia one feels so out of place for instance now days without it.

Good to have options, but imho, you are a twit for disabling it
And at first, I thought they totally just killed it completely. Reading article for the win

shakey said,
Good to have options, but imho, you are a twit for disabling it
And at first, I thought they totally just killed it completely. Reading article for the win

+1

I can cope with it on Outlook & Web based (gmail.com), but I hope this option is available on the Android Gmail App as I find it hard to use because of threaded emails.

I've yet to see a better implementation of threaded conversation than what Gmail has. Outlook 2010 works OK, but I've only tried it on IMAP connections (with GMail). For some reason it only picks up on my sent messages that should be in a particular thread if and only if I sent the email using Outlook. If I used GMail to send a message (or my phone), it won't show up... yet, Gmail always gets it right now matter what I use to send the message.

It is nice the Google is giving people the option to disable it but for me threaded view is awesome. I hate my work email (still on Outlook 2003), where I am constantly going between my Inbox and my Sent Mail folder looking at what I've already written on a particular conversation... not very streamlined for me.

I think the mixed reactions to threaded view in just the few comments above shows that this is an excellent idea.

what said,
I think the mixed reactions to threaded view in just the few comments above shows that this is an excellent idea.
I honestly don't see how any could not like threaded views (pertaining to email, that is). I can understand it if you do not want to get use to it or anything, but I think if you give someone the same amount of time with threaded email that they had with non-threaded email, they would choose threaded 95% of the time.

It just makes it that much easier to look back at previous responses when replying to an email and what not without making it more difficult to read new emails.

Here at work we use google apps and i i like it but everybody else hates it. I get complaints abouyt not being able to find email all the time. this will help get me my sanity back.

majortom1981 said,
Here at work we use google apps and i i like it but everybody else hates it. I get complaints abouyt not being able to find email all the time. this will help get me my sanity back.

People can't find emails? Have they not looked a few pixels above the top of the inbox and noticed the Search field?

it boggles the mind that something as useful as conversation view can throw people off so much.

I love conversation view! It's just a shame Microsoft didn't implement it as well as Gmail and Windows Live Mail in their Outlook and Windows Live Hotmail products I'd rather use Outlook over Windows Live Mail (simply due to the Exchange support).

If anyone is wondering what I'm on about:

When using Gmail and Windows Live Mail, email replies from the same Neowin thread will fall under one conversation and so will emails from Facebook if the same person has commented on one's status; these appear as seperate entries in Outlook 2010 and Windows Live Hotmail

Calum said,
I love conversation view! It's just a shame Microsoft didn't implement it as well as Gmail and Windows Live Mail in their Outlook and Windows Live Hotmail products I'd rather use Outlook over Windows Live Mail (simply due to the Exchange support).

If anyone is wondering what I'm on about:

When using Gmail and Windows Live Mail, email replies from the same Neowin thread will fall under one conversation and so will emails from Facebook if the same person has commented on one's status; these appear as seperate entries in Outlook 2010 and Windows Live Hotmail

Huh? In Outlook, the threaded view groups the Facebook emails you mentioned. I just checked it, and it does.

I think it created issues with email clients, but as gmail has all the functionality from an email client that i could ever need(filters) i dont see a prob. Conversation view is def something i cant do without now

I must be one of few(back when I got an invite) that didn't like it in my head but gotten use to it when in practice.

I like it now.

The_Decryptor said,
Does Outlook not do threaded view, or is it just disabled by default?

Because threading is awesome.

Outlook 2010 has threaded view, but all other previous versions did not have it.

The_Decryptor said,
Does Outlook not do threaded view, or is it just disabled by default?

Because threading is awesome.


Outlook 2010 and Windows Live Hotmail do not handle 'conversation' view as well as Gmail and Windows Live Mail, unfortunately

When using Gmail and Windows Live Mail, email replies from the same Neowin thread will fall under one conversation and so will emails from Facebook if the same person has commented on one's status; these appear as seperate entries in Outlook 2010 and Windows Live Hotmail

ceminess said,

Outlook 2010 has threaded view, but all other previous versions did not have it.

You can create threaded views in 2007 (maybe 2003).

Create a search folder that pulls emails from both Inbox and Sent Items, and sort that folder by conversation.

ceminess said,

Outlook 2010 has threaded view, but all other previous versions did not have it.


Actually, you can enable Conversations view in Outlook 2007 and 2003. (It was touted as a new feature in Outlook 2003.) I am not sure how to do it though.

I prefer the conversation view. It makes your inbox less cluttered when you have multiple conversations with multiple people.

Mathachew said,
I didn't like it at first, but now I can't imagine not having it.

I am the same way, I can't imagine how anyone would find distasteful (unless they are using the crappy implementation from Office 2010).

sphbecker said,

I am the same way, I can't imagine how anyone would find distasteful (unless they are using the crappy implementation from Office 2010).
Outlook 2010 has the conversation view and I can't live without it either.

sphbecker said,

I am the same way, I can't imagine how anyone would find distasteful (unless they are using the crappy implementation from Office 2010).

I have to use Outlook at work and we haven't updated to Office 2010 yet so I'm curious what specifically makes the implementation in 2010 crappy?

Mathachew said,
I didn't like it at first, but now I can't imagine not having it.
I honestly can barely remember not using threaded email.....it was so long ago in fact that I had to ask what threaded email was a few weeks ago because I was not familiar with the term (despite being familiar with the actual action of threaded email).

I love threaded email, you can see all the emails under the same subject (like when you email someone and talk back and forth via reply) without having to go back and look through your emails for previous responses to the same topic. It glitches every now and then for some things, but overall its a much better solution then legacy each email = new line in your inbox. I mean hell, even Opera's integrated mail client supports threaded email (though its not perfect integration with services like Gmail, they use their own threading once they fetch messages from gmail and others) now.

When I first read this topic, I was shocked as I initially thought it meant Gmails threading system was being killed, glad I was wrong.

Asmodai said,

I have to use Outlook at work and we haven't updated to Office 2010 yet so I'm curious what specifically makes the implementation in 2010 crappy?
I've had no issues with 2010's implementation

Jebadiah said,
Outlook 2010 has the conversation view and I can't live without it either.

You can have a threaded view in Outlook 2007, possibly 2003 too. Emails can be sorted by conversation.

If you want to include the both the sent and received emails in the threads, create a search folder that pulls emails from both your Inbox and Sent Items and sort that folder by conversation. Works perfectly.

Asmodai said,

I have to use Outlook at work and we haven't updated to Office 2010 yet so I'm curious what specifically makes the implementation in 2010 crappy?

The problem is that it groups the conversations entirely based on the subject line. If you don't get a lot of emails or your senders use good subjects it works great. I get over 50 emails a day from people at my company. Many of them have very generic subjects like "Help" or "Computer" or nothing at all. I got tired of clicking on an email from someone and having Outlook try to roll it into a conversation with dozens of unrelated messages. Having said that, I have an Exchange 2003 server, maybe if you run Exchange 2010 the conversations can be tracked on the subject and are more accurate. All I know is that what I have worked so poorly I had to turn the feature off.

sphbecker said,

The problem is that it groups the conversations entirely based on the subject line. If you don't get a lot of emails or your senders use good subjects it works great. I get over 50 emails a day from people at my company. Many of them have very generic subjects like "Help" or "Computer" or nothing at all. I got tired of clicking on an email from someone and having Outlook try to roll it into a conversation with dozens of unrelated messages. Having said that, I have an Exchange 2003 server, maybe if you run Exchange 2010 the conversations can be tracked on the subject and are more accurate. All I know is that what I have worked so poorly I had to turn the feature off.

This!

Outlook's (2007 and 2010) implementation of "Threading" is absolutely horrid. And to make matters worse, they enabled it by default when I installed 2010, as if somehow trying to compete with gmail, and I had to go through every single folder (hundreds) and turn it off one at a time. What a nightmare.

ceminess said,
I personally like the threaded emails. But it is good to have options.

It makes it so much easier to follow a conversation along...especially if the other person is a slow emailer and takes days or weeks to reply...by then you normally forget what they have said..

Its good that the noobs can now select to disable it.