Gmail lets you cancel its 'conversation view'
Gmail is letting users opt out of a simultaneously beloved and controversial feature--the "conversation view" it uses to group a message and all subsequent replies in a single thread.
The news came in a blog post that compared conversation view to cilantro--a some-love-it-others-hate-it thing. I like cilantro (aside from its habit of dying overnight in my garden), but I have mixed feelings about conversation view.
When I'm following a lengthy discussion, it helps to see each message in context. But when Gmail groups similar messages from the same sender into a conversation, I find it too easy to lose track of some of those e-mails. For example, a month ago, Gmail grouped two mobile-boarding-pass e-mails from United Airlines into one conversation--which, to my sleep-deprived eyes, looked like a single message on my phone's screen. That had me thinking that I'd somehow forgotten to check into the second flight.
Now you can quash conversation view--if that option has arrived in your account yet. (It has not in mine.) To do that, log into Gmail, click the Settings link and look for a "Conversation View" option.
This represents a further softening of Google's ambitions to rewrite the customs of e-mail. Back when it launched its free Web-mail service on April Fool's Day of 2004, it touted Gmail's labels and conversation view as two of its most important features. Back in February of 2009, it allowed users to move messages out of the Gmail inbox into separate folders, and today it's letting them back out of conversation view too.
Now that you have the choice, how will you take your Gmail: conversationally threaded or not?
| September 29, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
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