Back in Outlook 2010, Microsoft introduced the Conversation View, which works something like Gmail’s conversation threading. It’s turned on by default in newer versions Outlook, but not if you upgraded from an older version where it was switched off. So, if you didn’t know it was there, it might be time to take a look.
What is the Conversation View?
Although Microsoft talked up the Conversation View a lot when they introduced it, most people outside of corporate IT departments and readers of high-quality tech websites probably weren’t aware of it. After all, when was the last time you looked for and read through the “new features” article on an app you use?
This is a pity because Conversation View is a handy feature that a lot of people wanted after seeing conversation threading in Google’s new Gmail, which debuted in 2004/5. Such was the demand that suddenly everyone was talking about how to use the “Conversation” column to group emails in Outlook 2003, although this only picked up mails in the same folder. So some convoluted workarounds were fashioned using dynamic search folders, but this was all a bit crude compared to the AJAX-powered ease of Gmail.
Microsoft got on the case and added a proper Conversation View—one that pulls emails from all folders—when they rolled out Outlook 2010. This might seem a bit late, seeing as their previous version came out 3 years earlier (Outlook 2007), but one can only assume that it took the product managers at Microsoft a while to realize just how popular Gmail’s threaded conversation view was, by which point it was too late to add it to 2007. No matter, Outlook 2010 got it, and it was a decent effort that has worked well in all iterations since.
Since Outlook 2013 it’s been switched on by default, but in many businesses, it’s still turned off by default by the IT department. Also, if you turned it off in your old version of Outlook, it stays off when you upgrade to a new version. One of our geeks turned it off five years ago in Outlook 2013, and it’s still off now that they’re on Outlook 2019. It’s turned on by default in the Outlook web app as well, so it’s more well-used there, but for plenty of people, the Outlook client is their main email app.
Let’s take a look at how to turn Conversation View back on and what customization options you have. Better late than never!
How to Toggle the Conversation View On and Off
You can turn the Conversation View on and off via a simple toggle, so if you try it and don’t like it, it’s easy to turn it back off. To turn it on, switch on the View > Show as Conversations option.