Gmail very ‘helpfully’ automatically puts all of your email threads in “conversation view” mode, meaning that every reply and subsequent email with the same subject line will be stacked under the original email in the thread (or, as Gmail explains it, “emails of the same topic are grouped together”). And while it’s fairly straight forward how to turn this conversation view (threading) off in Gmail’s web interface, how to get it to stop on your iPhone or Android phone is nowhere to be found. So here’s what you need to do to have Gmail display your email individually, in a list (also known as the ‘flat view’), rather than threaded in conversation mode, on your iOS or Android device.
Here’s the thing: if you are reading your email in the Gmail interface – either desktop or mobile – “grouped together” or “stacked under” actually means “hidden behind.”
We recently heard of a situation where someone was waiting for an updated form from a vendor, and kept insisting that they were receiving the previous year’s form, only to find out that the reason for this was that, because Gmail was displaying email in conversation view (threaded), and because there were quite a few emails in that thread, the recipient never saw the emails that were being newly added to the thread.
Grouped together or stacked under actually means hidden behind.
Anyone who has ever used Gmail for business and who corresponds regularly with the same correspondents, within a thread, is likely to have run into this situation. And they may not even know it!
(By the way, if you are using Gmail for business – or in fact any common mailer – be sure to read about why having email display a sender’s image and contact information is an invitation for scammers to scam you.)
Here is how to have Gmail display the flat, unthreaded list of emails you have received, rather than the threaded, ‘conversation’ view.
How to Turn Off Threading in Gmail and How to Get Rid of Threaded View on your iPhone, Other iOS Device, or Android Device
How to Turn off Conversation (Threaded) View in the Gmail Web Interface
Turning of Conversation View (i.e. threading of your email messages) in the Gmail web viewer is very easy.
From your Gmail account, click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner, and go to Settings.
Go about half-way down the General settings, and under ‘Conversation View’ change the selection from ‘Conversation view on’ to ‘Conversation view off’.
Then be sure to go to the very bottom of the page and click on ‘Save changes’!
That’s it, for the web interface!
How to Get Rid of Threaded (Conversation) View on Your iPhone, Other iOS Device, or an Android Device
The Gmail mobile app does not offer an option to change from the conversation (threading) view to the flat (unthreaded) view. At all.
So, the way to be able to view email that comes to your Gmail account in an unthreaded display is by using a different email app with your Gmail account. Yes, you can do that, and it’s easy!
Here is the view of our 4 test emails in the Gmail app. Note that there is one entry (listing, or whatever you want to call it), and there are a total of four emails actually in that thread – the original message, plus three that are hidden (stacked, threaded) behind it.
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Now, skimming through four emails to find the recent one that you need to see may not be that much of a problem, but when you start getting email threads with 17, 23, or even 50 or more replies, it’s very burdensome, and can lead to emails being missed.
Using a different email app on your mobile device is very easy. In fact, iOS has a native mail app that is a snap to use with Gmail. Here’s how.
How to Set Up the iOS Mail App with Gmail
Go to settings on your iPhone or other iOS device, and go to the Mail settings area. Click on ‘Accounts’ and then ‘Add Account’, which will bring up this screen:
Click on ‘Google’, and add your Gmail account information.
Once your Gmail account is set up in the iOS mail app, you can read and respond to Gmail email from the mail app, and it will give you the unthreaded, flat view of your email.
How to Set Up an Android App with Gmail
Recent versions of Android seem to have done away with a separate Android email app in favor of providing the Gmail app out of the box. This isn’t really all that surprising given that Google owns both Android and Gmail.
There are a plethora of different email apps for Android, so we encourage you to experiment. That said, and somewhat surprisingly, we have found that the Outlook mobile email app is simple, light, and also provides for a flat, unthreaded view of your email.
We currently do not have access to an Android device in order to provide screenshots for you, and while there is never a perfect comparison between iOS and Android mobile versions of an app, these screenshots of Outlook Mobile on an iOS device at least gives you the idea:
Add Your Gmail Address to Outlook Mobile
Unthreaded Gmail in Outlook Mobile
You can get Outlook Mobile for Android from the Google Play store here.
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