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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to Switch and Customize Conversation View in Outlook

How to Switch and Customize Conversation View in Outlook



Back in Outlook 2010, Microsoft introduced the Conversation View which is similar to Gmail's conversation threading. It is enabled by default in newer versions of Outlook, but not if you have upgraded from an older version that was disabled. If you did not know it was there, it might be time to take a look.

What is the conversation view?

Although Microsoft talked a lot about conversational views when they introduced them, most people are out there. The company's IT departments and readers of high-quality tech sites probably did not know that. When did you last search and read the article "New Features" in an app you are using?

That's a pity, because Conversational View is a handy feature that many people wanted after threading conversation in Google's new Gmail, which debuted in 2004/5. So was the demand that suddenly everyone talked about how to group emails in Outlook 2003 with the "Entertainment" column, even though this only fetched emails in the same folder. Some complicated workarounds were created with dynamic search folders, but this was a bit rough compared to the ease of Gmail supported by AJAX.

Microsoft looked into the case and added a full conversational view that pulls emails from all folders ̵

1; when they rolled out Outlook 2010. This seems a bit late, as their previous version appeared 3 years earlier (Outlook 2007), but one can only assume that the product managers at Microsoft took a while to see how popular they are. Threaded Conversation view in Gmail was the time when it was too late to add in 2007. Anyway, Outlook 2010 got it, and it was a decent hassle that has worked well for iterations.

Since Outlook 2013, it has been enabled by default, but in many organizations, it is disabled by default by the IT department. If you disabled it in your old version of Outlook, it will be disabled when you upgrade to a new version. One of our freaks deactivated it in Outlook 2013 five years ago, and now Outlook 2019 is still disabled. By default, it is also enabled in the Outlook Web App Many people, the Outlook client is their main email app.

Let's look at how to re-enable Conversational View and what customization options you have. Better late than never!

Turning on and off the conversation view

You can turn the conversation view on and off with a simple toggle switch. So if you try it and do not like it, you can just turn it off again. To activate it, activate the option View> Show as conversation.

Outlook displays a confirmation message that lets you activate the view in any folder ("All Mailboxes") or simply the current folder ("This Folder").

Try to turn on "This Folder". Here you can see if you like it before you turn it on everywhere. To completely turn off conversation view, turn off the View> View as Conversations option.

Conversational view function

Conversation view arranges your messages in chronological order in a thread, with the most recent message displayed at the top. These are initially hidden under the top message, with a triangle on the left to indicate that there is a thread underneath.

Clicking on the triangle will expand the thread and display the emails.

The top message is the conversation header, and it's not a message. Instead, it contains the name of the person who started the conversation, and the topic. If you click on it, nothing is displayed in the reading area.

When you click one of the messages below the header, Outlook displays it normally in the Reading Pane. New messages are automatically inserted at the top of the conversation below the header and displayed in bold and italics to indicate that they have not yet been read.

A conversation with a new message is automatically sent to the email at the top of the folder, so the latest conversations are always up.

This also demonstrates one of the strongest features of Conversational View, namely that emails are retrieved from anywhere in Outlook and displayed in a single place. with the name of the folder in which the mail is displayed conspicuously. In this conversation, emails are in the current folder, in the Inbox, and also in the Sent Items folder. When we apply the conversation view to the inbox, we see exactly the same conversation.

Customizing Conversation View

Under the View> Show as Conversation option, there is the Conversation Settings option. Click here to see the conversation options.

The options are:

  • Show messages from other folders: Displays messages in the conversation, regardless of which folder they are in. If this is the case If the option is disabled, only the conversation messages that are in the folder you are viewing are displayed.
  • Show sender above subject: Displays the sender name at the top of the conversation, not the subject in compact mode (the default view for folders in Outlook). The following screenshots show when the setting is on or off.

  • Always Extend Selected Entertainment: Always displays the currently selected conversation in advanced mode, even if you leave the folder and return to it. If you want a specific conversation to appear in any folder that contains one of the emails in the conversation, always in enhanced mode, you must enable this option in each of the folders.
  • Use Classic Indented View: Displays the messages in a skewed indent. The older the message, the bigger the entry. This is a folder setting that applies to every conversation in the folder.

There is another customization setting found under Files> Options. Select the "Mail" category on the left and navigate down to the "Other" section to change the "Do not auto-expand the conversation if you use the keyboard to change messages" setting.

By default This setting is disabled. When you use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to navigate through a folder, conversations automatically expand as you select them. If you activate this setting, the conversations will be retained when you select them using the keyboard, and you can extend and contract them manually using the LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys. This is especially useful if you prefer the keyboard whenever possible.


This is the conversation view, an attempt by Microsoft to thread threads. We think it's pretty good, with enough customization to appeal to different users, but not so much that it's hard to use. If it does not suit you, you can turn it off again by choosing View> As Conversation deactivate again.


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