Conversations In Mac Mail

With Mac Mail you can view individual messages or group them together in conversations. Which you use is a personal preference. With conversations you can view all of the messages sent back and forth between two or more people about a single subject. This makes following responses easier.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Conversations In Mac Mail.

Hi, this is Gary with On this episode let's look at using threaded conversations in Mac Mail.

I'm using Mail in El Capitan. I want to show you the two different ways that you can view your email.

One is by conversation. You can see under View, Organize by Conversation that I've got checked. You can uncheck it to change it.

So here I've got in my inbox one conversation and its got three different messages in there. I can select it to view the conversation. When I select it I can see here on the right all these different messages, back and forth, with the oldest one being at the bottom. You can see here a quick message from someone. Then the conversation follows, going upwards, to the most recent message there.

Now I can switch by going to View and turning off Organize by Conversation and instead of seeing them as one item here on the left I see each email that I've got from that other person as a separate piece. So here's the first email that I got from them at the bottom and then the next one that I got from them. You can see I replied to them, it's in my sent email in fact, if I look under Sent and I also, for that folder there for that mailbox, I will turn off Organize by Conversation and you can see I responded to them there.

So this is their response and I can see my response quoted. This is the most recent one there that I got. So conversation allows me to group these three emails together as well as the emails that I sent.

Let me go back to Organize by Conversation. Now you can see this one item that tells me I got three messages incoming. I can select it and see all the messages from that person as well as the responses I sent to them. So the entire conversation, starting with the first email to the most recent and I can scroll through it very easily.

So you've got a lot of different options here. Let's start by looking in the message here. You can see the number 3 tells me that I've three messages. These are the messages that have come to me. They don't include my responses. I can click on that and it reveals each one of those. I can actually jump to every one. So I can jump to the first one by clicking on it, the second one, the third one. I can go to the entire conversation there.

Now notice when I'm looking at one of the messages individually I see all the quoted text. This is actual physical text inside of the message because they just hit reply and I hit reply every time and you can see all the different pieces at different levels of quoting. If I go just to look at it by conversation you can see it doesn't include any of that. That's because it is smart enough to get rid of it because it's repeating what's being said here. It's much cleaner and easier to read it now.

But if I do want to go and see all the information of the email I can hit the See More link there and you can see it reveals it for each message. So I do have that option.

Now if I've got a whole bunch of different conversations going on in my inbox rather than just this one I can very easily go to View and I can Expand All Conversations or Collapse All Conversations. This doesn't do much except just gets rid of the little entries under here which you don't really need because you can click here and you can view them easily enough just by going and scrolling through the list.

There are some options under Preferences. If you go to Mail, Preferences under Viewing you've got, under Conversations, Include related messages. Now it's important that you have this checked because what happens if you don't check it, is it will not include messages that are not in the same mailbox.

So I'm in my Inbox now. I'm only going to see the messages that are in my inbox. What's happened here is that all of my replies have disappeared. Why? Because my replies are in the Sent mailbox. So by saying I don't want to see related messages I have removed those. Now this would also be the case, if say, I would Archive some of these messages and they weren't in my inbox anymore. Or put them in special mail folders that I've created. Then it would not include those related messages and my conversations would look fragmented. I would be missing pieces because it would only show me the current ones.

I have the option here to Mark all messages as read when opening a conversation. This is useful especially if there is more than one other person involved in the conversation. You would maybe come in and there would already be five or six messages there and you wouldn't have to go to each one, you can just go to the most recent one to catch up. You can decide whether or not the most recent messages are at the top or you can read them in chronological order starting with the first one and going to the last one.

You've got the ability, under View, to Sort By but it doesn't effect inside of conversation so it's important to know about that option there.

Also, Highlight messages with color when not grouped. So I can turn off the conversation grouping and if I select one of these messages, notice that I get a weak highlight under these messages here because they are part of the same conversation. If I had a whole bunch of other email that was from other people and other conversations selecting one in this one would quickly show me which ones in my inbox are part of the same conversation. So it kind of gives you functionality there, a visual clue while not actually grouping them together as Organize by Conversation would.

You could also go to View and Hide Related Messages just this one time for this one conversation and Show Related Messages as well. So you do have control there without having to go and change the preference for everything. You can control it just that one time.

So this is basically a choice of preference. Whether or not you like to have individual messages come in or have things grouped as conversations. I actually prefer to have individual messages come in. I practice my own form of inbox zero where I clear messages out of my inbox as quickly as I possibly can. So I just like to see an individual message at a time. But I can definitely see how useful having Organize by Conversation turned on especially in a large working environment where you're collaborating with a lot of different people.

You could also do this in iOS, of course. In Settings, under Mail, Contacts, Calendars you can turn on Organize by Thread and it works basically the same way. It even looks the same in iOS on the iPad or iPhone.