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How to mute a MacOS Apple Mail conversation (and why you should)

Apple Mail includes a feature that could help you silence the constant "noise" of too many email notifications.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Person using a laptop outside

Does the idea of minimizing the interruptions, but not cutting off communication, sound like just the thing to ease your busy day? 

Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Like everyone, I get a ton of emails. The one type of email I get that's more annoying than anything is the deluge of PR promos and requests. Although I'd like to do a wholesale block of those types of emails, I can't. Why? Because very often one will come through that actually warrants my attention. When that happens, I respond. 

Unfortunately, sometimes that unleashes a rather drawn-out back and forth or a PR agency constantly "pinging" me for responses I don't always have time for. When that occurs (at least on Apple Mail), I mute them.

Also: What are the best email hosting services and do they protect data?

Muting an Apple Mail conversation doesn't stop the email from coming through. Instead, it simply blocks the muted email from the notifications. So instead of constantly getting reminded that yet another email from that sender has arrived, it just lands in my inbox where I can peruse it at my earliest convenience. All the while, the rest of my incoming missives can still alert me via the MacOS notification system.

Does the idea of minimizing the interruptions, but not cutting off communication, sound like just the thing to ease your busy day? If so, read on -- because I'm going to show you how easy it is to mute those conversations.

Do note, however, that this feature only works on conversation threads. You can't mute a contact (which would be a handy feature), so if you mute a conversation thread, the contact could send a new email which will bypass the mute. That's okay because if you're too busy, you can always do a global mute of notifications by setting your Focus status to Do Not Disturb.

The Focus Do Not Disturb entry in MacOS Ventura.

You can always mute all notifications in MacOS.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Of course, take caution when muting notifications globally, as you could miss out on something important.

With that caveat out of the way, let's get to the muting.

Muting threads in Apple Mail on MacOS

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need is a MacOS device and Apple Mail configured for your email account. This feature also works on the iOS version of Apple Mail. As an Android user, I don't use an iPhone. However, the feature works on both platforms, the only difference being how you access the Mute option. In iOS that option can be found by swiping left on the email in question to reveal the hidden options. Then, select More. From the resulting list choose Mute. 

Also: Comparing the best Macs: Is a MacBook or Mac Studio right for you?

Now, let me show you how it's done in MacOS.

1. Open Apple Mail

Naturally, the first thing you must do is open Apple Mail.

2. Locate and select the conversation thread

Next, you need to locate and select the conversation thread you want to mute from your inbox.

3. Open the right-click context menu

Two-finger tap (or right-click) the email thread in question. 

Also: Boost your security and productivity with the top Mac apps

From the resulting context menu, select Mute, which mutes the conversation.

The right-click context menu in Apple Mail.

Make sure not to mark the conversation as Junk. Otherwise, you could miss it altogether.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

How to unmute a conversation

Now that you've muted the conversation, you might want to go back (at some point) and unmute it. Here's how.

1. Locate the conversation to unmute

After muting the conversation, the entry in the inbox will include a small mute icon. The one caveat to this is there's no way of searching for muted conversations. Of course, if you remember the sender or subject, you can always search for one of those bits of data. 

A muted conversation in Apple Mail.

A muted conversation is indicated by a bell with a line through it.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Unmute the conversation

The process for unmuting a conversation is similar to that of muting one. After you've located the conversation, two-finger tap (or right-click) the entry in the inbox and select Unmute. 

Also: How to quickly see what emails are a part of a conversation in Apple Mail

The mute icon will vanish and you'll then start receiving notifications for the conversation thread once more.

The right-click context menu now showing the unmute entry.

Unmuting a conversation is similar to muting one.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that's all there is to silencing an email conversation. This is a great way to help sift through the noise and find yourself with fewer interruptions throughout your day. 

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