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Arrange Outlook Emails by Conversation Thread

By Deborah J. Sparks

Do you find yourself hunting for emails that are within the same message thread? View by date/conversation to arrange related messages into meaningful and easy-to-manage groups.

The steps below are relevant to Outlook 2013, but conversation view options have been available since Outlook 2003, with improvements in each version.

View messages by conversation:


  1. Select the folder in which you would like to view messages by conversation
  2. On the View tab > Arrangement group, select Date (Conversations)
  3. On the View tab > Messages group, tick the box next to Show as Conversations
  4. Apply the conversation view to all folders or just the selected mailbox in the resulting dialog box

Adjust the conversation settings:


  1. On the View tab > Messages group, click Conversation Settings
  2. To view all conversation messages regardless of the folder in which they reside, for example, Sent Items, activate Show Messages from Other Folders
  3. To show the individual senders above each subject line in the thread, activate Show Senders Above the Subject
  4. To automatically expand a conversation when you select it, and automatically collapse it when you select another email, activate Always Expand Selected Conversation (if this option is not active, click the triangle to the left of the conversation heading to expand and collapse a message thread)

Clean up a conversation to remove redundant emails within the thread:


  1. Select the conversation
  2. On the Home tab > Delete group, click Clean Up and select a clean up option (selected conversation, currently selected folder, or currently selected folder and all of its subfolders)

Ignore a conversation to delete threads that are not of interest:


  1. Select the conversation
  2. On the Home tab > Delete group, click Ignore
  3. Click Ignore Conversation when the message indicating that the selected conversation and all future messages will be moved to the Deleted Items folder

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