Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

Summary: Google has listened to users who say they don't care for threaded conversations and has added a feature that allows users to go back to a traditional inbox.

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One of the things I like most about Gmail is the threaded conversations. For me, it helps keep the inbox organized in a way that helps keep the back-and-forth correspondence of an email exchange in an easy-to-follow format.

But many of you feel otherwise and have said, repeatedly, that you dislike the threads. I hear you loud and clear - and apparently, so does Google.

Today, the company is announcing that users will now be able to turn off the threaded conversations and switch their inboxes to the more traditional style - something that's sure to be welcome to many. From a blog post announcing the new feature:

Conversation view is perhaps Gmail’s most hotly debated feature.  Threading enthusiasts say they spend less mental energy drawing connections between related messages and that their inboxes are much less cluttered.  On the other hand, email traditionalists like many former Outlook users think conversation just complicates something that has worked for years.

In making this change, Google has finally admitted that, despite its best efforts to deliver what it considered to be a better email experience, some users aren't willing to give up what's familiar to them. And yet, the company hasn't quite given up hope yet on one feature - search.

One of the things that kept Google from putting in a bid to convert the state of California's e-mail system to Google Apps was the inability for Gmail to "sort" messages. Google still considers searching for messages, instead of sorting them, to be superior and isn't budging on that feature.

Personally, I find search to be a better and faster way to find messages, but I've also mastered some of the common search operators, such as "from:joe," "subject: meeting," and "has: attachment."

More often than not, those search terms deliver the results I'm looking for. Still, the users have been very clear about wanting to sort messages. Even though I applaud Google for giving users the option of displaying messages in threaded or unthreaded views, I have to ding the company for not going far enough.

If they really want to convince both consumers and businesses to "Go Google," they're going to have to offer users the features they want - not the features the company wants them to want.

Related coverage: Forrester: Email may be here to stay but it definitely needs an overhaul

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Cloud, Google

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39 comments
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  • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

    Sorting emails will come too...As Geoffrey Moore says if you got to cross the chasm and sell you got to deliver to the pragmatists... If not then you ought to be the owner of the ecosystem itself like M$ is
    pranavmdesai@...
  • The part that I absolutely detest about Google's threaded system

    is that it includes items in the recycle bin on the list. I deleted them for a reason, I don't want to see them again.
    Michael Kelly
    • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

      To: Michael Kelly
      Simple! Empty your Trash! (oh, pardon me, Windoze's "recycle-that-isn't-recycled" ... I use Mac OS, where "Trash" is erased when emptied). Deleting just moves messages to the Trash, you have to open that area and either selectively or comprehensively check-mark the messages and again hit "Delete" ... Gmail sends incoming messages to the "Spam" area, where they can be directly deleted, or to the "Trash" if it's less sure you don't want it based on past deletions (you can directly delete here, also), or to the "Inbox" (where deletion is a two-step process, send it to Trash by deleting it once, and then go to Trash to delete it forever).
      Namorado_TX
      • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

        @Namorado_TX

        Cute answer, but considering it takes about 10 taps to do so on an Android that isn't the best option. And if I'm going to be emptying my recycle bin that often, why even have one? There is a reason for the recycle bin. Sometimes people make a mistake and delete something they should not have. So I do want a recycle bin, but that does not mean I want to be reminded I have deleted messages every time I get a new e-mail.
        Michael Kelly
      • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

        @Namorado_TX

        Or like me you can just set the recycle bin to not store and just delete. I never have anything in my recycle bin. What's better is I don't have to throw a disk in the trash to eject a CD. Got to wonder what dolt came up with that. Go back to your over priced playschool kids Apple and gloat.
        audidiablo
    • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

      @audiodiblo
      DeafDebble, <br>
      . . . You've strayed off-subject, but your flame-bait dissing Apple betrays your ignorance of recent Apple quality ... since Unix-based Mac OS X began, the mouse-user preference of dragging a CD to the desktop icon of the Trash in order to eject it (a convenience, not a byproduct of a "dolt") has no longer been available. And as always, a keyboard-initiated ejection has been available, besides the always-available menu-selection or a pop-up blurb with an ejection-arrow. "Ten taps" to delete from Gmail on mobile Android? I don't yet have a mobile device, but I bet it's less effort on Apple's industry-leading retina-display iOS 4.1! <br>
      . . . Overpriced? After all the "extras" you have to pay for with Windoze PCs and software that comes standard on the Mac, plus all the Windows downtime and fix, repair, upgrade daily, plug-'n'-play user-friendly Apple products are a bargain! Like Gmail, they give you options to be creative, which is why a high proportion of musicians, artists, designers, and other productive people prefer them, it gives them freedom without all the "ten taps" delays.
      Namorado_TX
  • Use Hotmail

    If you want unthreaded messages then use Hotmail or Yahoo. That's one of the defining features of Gmail.
    Mwendo
    • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

      @Mwendo <br>Switch to yahoo or hotmail and put up with all the spam they are prone to have? Not me! I shall stick with the best: Gmail of course.
      rm6565
      • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

        @rm6565

        I have hotmail/livemail and don't have spam issues... I don't even get anything in my spam/junk folder. Maybe you have poor browsing habits?
        audidiablo
      • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

        @rm6565

        Who needs spam when you have Google spying on you all the time?
        jorjitop
  • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

    And....NO FOLDERS STILL...
    cyberslammer
    • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

      @cyberslammer Labels: Just like folders but with more flexibility.
      sldiaz
      • And yet not folders

        @sldiaz

        And some people want folders. So provide folders.
        x I'm tc
      • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

        @sldiaz Labels are great but they do NOT unclutter the inbox indeed they make it more busy. Unless you label and archive at the same time ... Folders have their place, just not in GMail (yet) it seems.
        nigebj
      • If you set up automatic labeling, it is exactly the same as folders.

        but, it just gives you a lot more flexibility.
        DonnieBoy
      • You can make Labels into Folders with...

        hierarchy through Labs. It has been there for a while now.
        Jared Neale
    • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

      @cyberslammer
      Google uses labels which is almost the same as folders.
      rm6565
      • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

        @rm6565

        Almost still isn't the same. People are used to folders so give them folders. Labels I don't see how you have more flexibility regarding DonnieBoy's post. I can archive, folder sort or label with Windows... Why limit myself to labels only? I can also search my emails which seems to be the only real option for Gmail. They have a ways to go but getting there. Maybe one day they will even stop reading your emails!
        audidiablo
  • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

    "If they really want to convince both consumers and businesses to ?Go Google,? they?re going to have to offer users the features they want - not the features the company wants them to want."

    Yeah! Who do they think they are, Apple? :-)
    jrf2027@...
    • RE: Google unthreads Gmail messages, sticks by search over sort

      @jrf2027@...

      ROFLCOPTER!

      Agreed!
      audidiablo