How to Get Mac Mail to Show Threaded Conversations and How to Turn on Threaded Conversations Only for Selected Mailboxes

expanded threaded view
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You know that the Mac Mail app can organize your email into threaded conversations, but how to actually get it to do that – how to set the conversation view in Mac Mail – is weirdly not obvious. However the reason that it’s not obvious how to turn on threaded conversations in Mac Mail actually relates to a nifty aspect of the threaded view feature. Read on!

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First, the one place that you would think you would be able to set the threaded conversation mail view would be in, you know, the mail settings. You would certainly be forgiven for thinking it would be there when you consider that all of the threaded conversation settings are in the mail preferences settings, in the ‘View’ pane.

Despite All of the View Conversation Settings being in Mail Preferences You Can’t Actually Turn on Threaded Conversations There
mac mail preferences viewing

Having had no luck there, you might next experiment with whether changing between ‘classic layout’…’new layout’? (anybody get that reference?) …’not classic layout? …anyways, between having ‘Use classic layout’ checked or unchecked makes a difference in whether your mail program uses threaded view – only to find that it doesn’t.

Whether ‘Use classic layout’ is checked or not makes no difference.
how to set threaded conversations mac mail classic layout mail preferences

So, here’s the secret, and also how to turn on threaded conversation for just particular, selected mailboxes.

How to Get Mac Mail to Show Threaded Conversations and How to Turn on Threaded Conversations Only for Selected Mailboxes

So, how do you get Mac Mail to start threading conversations, and how do you do it for only certain mailboxes?

This is a bit of a trick question, as it turns out that you can only turn on conversation view on a mailbox by mailbox basis.

So here’s how to do it in 3 easy steps.

1. Select a mailbox

Select any mailbox in the Mail app on your Mac. For example purposes we have selected our mailbox called ‘Colorado’.

how to set threaded conversation view mac mail

(P.S. Like the little pine tree we have in the mailbox name? Read our article You Can’t Change the Color of Mailbox Folders in Mac Mail but You CAN Add Emoji as Icons to the Mailbox Names!)

2. Do NOT open Mail preferences! Instead, go up to the menu bar, click on ‘View’, and from the dropdown check… wait for it… ‘Organize by conversation’!

how to mac mail organize by conversation

As soon as you check it, almost magically your conversations in that particular mailbox will be threaded.

how to threaded view mac mail

To expand the threads to see all of the email in a given conversation just click on the blue arrow next to the thread.

Expanded Threads
expanded threaded view

3. And now you can customize how Mail handles threaded conversations, back in your Mail Preferences:

mac mail preferences viewing


Enjoy your new threaded conversation view!

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