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How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Most customization options are available on the Outlook menu bar and ribbon. If you don’t see the menu bar, you’re probably in full-screen mode. Hover your mouse near the top of the screen to make the menu bar visible, or click the green button at the top left to leave full-screen mode.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

View messages from multiple accounts

Select All Accounts in the upper left, and then click Inbox.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Show or hide the ribbon

Select View > Ribbon.

Show or hide the sidebar (folder pane)

Select View >Sidebar.

Show or hide folders

Select Outlook > Preferences > General.

Select Show all account folders.

Select Hide On My Computer folders.

Move or hide the reading pane

Select Organize > Reading Pane.

Select Right, Bottom, or Off.

To change the size of the reading pane, rest the pointer on the border between the reading pane and the message list, and then drag the border to the right or left.

Change the sort order in the message list

Select Organize > Arrange By, and then select an option.

Choose columns for the message list

The available columns vary, depending on the type of items in the list.

Columns work best when the reading pane is hidden or positioned below the item list, so select Organize > Reading Pane > Bottom or Off.

Select View > Columns, and then click a column name. Columns in the current view are identified with a check mark.

Click on a column heading to sort by that column.

To rearrange the columns, click a column heading, and then drag it to a new position.

To resize a column, rest the pointer on the right edge of the column header until the pointer changes, and then drag the edge.

Organize email by sender

Whether your messages are set up to display on the right or on the bottom, you can organize email by sender simply by clicking the Arrange By menu on the Organize tab and selecting From.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

If your reading pane is set up to show messages on the right, at the top of your message list, click the By menu, and then select From.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

If your reading pane is set up to show messages on the bottom, right-click or Ctrl+click anywhere in the message column header section, and then select Arrange By > From.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Filter email by unread, attachments, or date sent

Select Home > Filter, and then select an option.

Frequently asked questions

How do I change the font size of the folder list and email list?

How do I change the size of the buttons?

You can’t change the size of buttons at this time.

How do I add buttons to the ribbon?

It’s not possible to add or remove buttons on the ribbon in Outlook for Mac. If you’d like to request this feature, please visit the Outlook Suggestion Box.

How do I change the look of unread messages?

Unread messages are marked with a blue dot and have a blue time and date when the reading pane is positioned to the right of the item list. They have bold type when the reading pane is hidden or positioned below the item list. If you want to mark a read message as unread:

Select the message.

Press and hold the Control key while clicking the mouse button.

Select Mark as Unread.

Show calendar in the reading pane

It’s not possible to show the calendar in the reading pane. Select the calendar icon at the bottom of the page to see the calendar.

Rob Woodgate
How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlookRob Woodgate
Writer

Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He’s also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together. Read more.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Microsoft Outlook’s Conversation View is a really useful tool. If you sort or group your emails by column, though, you’ll lose it. Thankfully, there’s a simple (albeit, less than obvious) way to get Conversation View back.

When you turn on Conversation View, it groups all of your emails by conversation, regardless of where they’re located in your mailbox. So, if a reply comes into your inbox, Outlook will show all of the previous emails in that conversation in a thread, even if you’ve moved them to other folders.

When you change the view settings, though, you can lose Conversation View, and it’s not obvious how to get it back. The image below shows what it looks like when Conversation View is enabled.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

However, when we click the “From” column header to sort the folder by the senders, the Conversation View options are grayed out, and the folder is no longer in Conversation View.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

So, how do you get Outlook to display your emails in Conversation View again?

Some people just change the folder back to the default view. This is effective, but it also means they have to reset the view to add or remove columns, reset any formatting, and redo anything else they want the folder to have.

Unfortunately, many people just don’t use Conversation View because it’s not obvious why it stopped working—especially if they clicked on a column header without realizing it.

To get Conversation View working again, just right-click any column header in Outlook, and then select Arrange By > Date (Conversations).

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

And just like that, Conversation View should be back in working order!

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How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He’s also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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When you arrange messages by conversation, messages in a folder that share the same subject appear together in the message list. The messages within each conversation are sorted with the newest message on top. When a new message is received, the entire conversation moves to the top of your message list.

Collapsed conversations appear with a right-facing arrow , and expanded conversations appear with a down-facing arrow . Click the arrows to expand or collapse conversations.

Read messages that are part of a conversation

When you click on a conversation header in the message list, the conversation index shows in the reading pane. The conversation index shows one line for each message in the conversation, with each line displaying the message sender and the first few words from the message body.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Expand or collapse a conversation in the message list

Click Expand or Collapse next to the conversation heading.

Show the conversation index in the reading pane

In the message list, click the conversation heading.

Read a single message from the conversation

In the message list or the conversation index, click the message.

Return to the conversation index in the reading pane

In the reading pane, at the top of the message, click the Conversation icon.

To set preferences for how conversations are displayed in the message list, on the Outlook menu, click Preferences, and then under Email, click Reading. Under Conversations, select the preferences that you want.

Messages in the Junk E-Mail and Deleted Items folders are not included in conversations.

Turn off viewing by conversation

On the Organize tab, click Conversations.

When you arrange messages by conversation, messages in a folder that share the same subject appear together in the message list. The messages within each conversation are sorted with the newest message on top. When a new message is received, the entire conversation moves to the top of your message list.

Icon for a collapsed conversation

Icon for an expanded conversation

Icon for unread message

Read messages that are part of a conversation

When you click on a conversation header in the message list, the conversation index shows in the reading pane. The conversation index shows one line for each message in the conversation, with each line displaying the message sender and the first few words from the message body.

At the bottom of the navigation pane, click Mail .

Do any of the following:

Expand or collapse a conversation in the message list

Click Expand or Collapse next to the conversation heading.

Show the conversation index in the reading pane

In the message list, click the conversation heading.

Read a single message from the conversation

In the message list or in the conversation index, click the message.

Return to the conversation index in the reading pane

In the reading pane, at the top of the message, click the Conversation icon.

Tip: To set preferences for how conversations are displayed in the message list, on the Outlook menu, click Preferences, and then under E-mail , click Reading. Under Conversations, select the preferences that you want.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

This article explains how to view your Outlook email messages by conversation thread so you don’t have to search for all the messages that belong to a conversation. Instructions apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

View Mail Grouped by Conversation Thread in Outlook

Outlook collects messages in a conversation from multiple days and folders, then it displays them all together.

Start Outlook and go to the View tab.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

In the Messages group, select Show as Conversations.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

To enable conversation view for the current folder only, select This folder.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Or, to apply conversation view to all your Outlook folders immediately, select All mailboxes.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Include Your Sent Mail (and Other Folders) in Conversations

Set Outlook to group messages in the same folder and draw from other folders, including Sent Items.

Start Outlook and go to the View tab.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

In the Messages group, select Show as Conversations.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Select Conversation Settings.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Select Show Messages from Other Folders.

How Does Conversation View Work?

Conversations show as an arrow to the left of the most recent message in the conversation. To see the other messages in the conversation, select the arrow to expand the thread. Select the arrow a second time to hide the thread.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Unread messages appear in bold; any collapsed conversation with at least one unread message appears in bold, too.

To streamline conversations, have Outlook remove redundant, quoted messages; for irrelevant threads, Outlook can also delete future messages automatically.

Other Conversation View Settings

The Conversation Settings menu has a few more choices:

  • Show Senders Above the Subject: Outlook displays From: names first followed by the Subject lines in a thread. When this option is off, Subject lines are above sender names.
  • Always Expand Selected Conversation: Outlook messages are expanded to display all the emails in a conversation when you open the conversation.
  • Use Classic Indented View: Outlook displays threads in a list that has replies indented below the messages they answer. When this option is off, threads are shown as a flat list.

'Show as Conversations' Is Grayed Out. What Can I Do?

Outlook can group conversations by thread only when the emails in a folder are sorted by date. If the messages are arranged another way, Show as Conversations is grayed out and unavailable to check.

To change the view to enable Conversations:

Go to the View tab and select Change View.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Select Save Current View As a New View.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Enter a name for the view that will help you recognize the view's settings, then select OK.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

In the Arrangement group, select Date.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Your emails are arranged in date order and you can view messages as conversation threads.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Even though Google’s Gmail is dominating the email space, you can’t dismiss Outlook’s impact. The service is used by millions of consumers and is the preferred choice of enterprise users and Office 365 customers. The Outlook email experience comes with an excellent theming engine and lots of customization options. One such option is the ability to change the email view. Here’s how you can change Outlook view on desktop and web.

Change Outlook View on Desktop and Web

Unlike its rivals, Microsoft offers native Outlook apps on both Windows and Mac. Whether you prefer Outlook web or desktop apps, we have got you covered with all three platforms here. Let’s get started.

1. Outlook Web

First, we will showcase how to change Outlook view on the web. Most users prefer it over native apps due to its rich functions such as Outlook Spaces, Outlook Rules, and more.

1. Visit Outlook on the web.

2. Sign in using your account credentials.

3. Click on the Settings gear at the top.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

4. You can disable Focused Inbox if you don’t prefer Microsoft’s way of sorting emails.

5. From the Display density menu, you can select Full or Compact from the default Medium view.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

6. Scroll down and you can change the Conversation view and Reading pane as well.

You will see all the changes live as you make them from the Outlook Settings menu. Select relevant options based on your preferences and you are good to go.

2. Outlook Mac App

Microsoft recently redesigned the Outlook app for macOS. While it’s not as feature-rich as the Windows app, you can easily change Outlook view on it. Here’s how.

1. Open Outlook on Mac.

2. Click Outlook on the Mac menu bar.

3. Open the Outlook Preferences menu.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

4. Select Reading.

5. The default Outlook view is set as Roomy. You can change it to Cozy or Compact.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

6. From the same menu, you can disable Show message preview, Show sender image, and Show group headers.

Users can disable Focused Inbox for the Outlook Mac from the same Reading menu. Another useful addition is swipe gestures. We have seen the same on Outlook mobile apps but it’s good to see the same level of customization on the Outlook Mac app.

3. Outlook Windows App

Understandably, Outlook has the best possible customization options on the Windows app. The company recently redesigned the Outlook Windows app to keep it in sync with the Windows 11 design elements. Let’s change the Outlook view on Windows. Shall we?

1. Open Microsoft 365 Outlook app on Windows computer.

2. From the Email menu, click on View.

3. Select Change View and go from Compact view to Single view or Preview.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

After making changes to the Outlook view, you can save the new view as your default view from the same menu.

Do you want to change the message view as well? Outlook allows you to change message preview from 1 line to 2 lines or 3 lines as well.

Open Outlook and go to View > Current View > Message Preview and change from 1 line to zero lines or 2 or 3 lines.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

If you feel Outlook is using tighter space, you can change that one as well. From the View menu, disable Use Tighter Spacing and you are good to go.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Outlook on Windows allows you to change Layout as well. From the View menu, select Layout, and users can change Folder Pane, Reading Pane, and To-Do Bar.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Do you want to add more columns to the Outlook app? Click on the three-dot menu in the View menu and Add Columns from the arrangement menu.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

4. Outlook Mobile Apps

As you may have guessed from the title, you can’t change the Outlook view on mobile apps. However, you can disable Focused Inbox if you are not a fan of Outlook’s way of handling emails on mobile. Here’s how.

Both the Outlook iOS and Android apps use the same UI. In the screenshots below, we will use the Outlook iOS app. You can follow the same steps on the Outlook Android app and disable Focused Inbox.

1. Open Outlook app on your mobile.

2. Tap on the Outlook icon at the top and go to Settings.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

3. Disable Focused Inbox from the Email menu.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Wrapping Up: Customize Outlook Experience

Not everyone is a fan of the default Outlook view on the desktop and web. Thankfully, with the right customizations, you can easily change the Outlook view on the computer and web to your liking. As for Outlook mobile app, you can only disable Focused Inbox.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

What is Conversation View in Microsoft Outlook and what does it do? Well, here our team will provide an explanation for you guys!

Microsoft introduced the Conversation View, which functions much like the Gmail conversation interface.

This is active by default in the latest versions of Outlook, while for older versions this menu or feature is disabled, aka you have to activate it manually.

WHAT IS CONVERSATION VIEW IN MICROSOFT OUTLOOK

This is a part of Microsoft Outlook, which lets you reduce the chances of a cluttered inbox and following the chain of emails by grouping emails with the same title.

Maybe some of you don’t know how to activate this feature, while those of you who activate this feature by accident, can’t find a way to turn it off Hehe.

Well, here our Team will provide a tutorial on how to disable or enable this feature:

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

  1. Click the View tab at the top of your Outlook home screen.
  2. Check the box that says Show as Conversations. To disable it, uncheck the box.
  3. Select the folder where you want to apply the Conversations view.
  4. Gratz, you’ve done it! If you’ve recently activated the feature, you’ll see a small arrow next to a threaded email. Clicking the arrow will open all the messages you’ve grouped together under that view.

Conversation View Function

Conversation View organizes your messages into threads in the order that corresponds to the most recent messages. It’s initially hidden in the message section and will show an arrow when you activate it.

The top message is the conversation header, and it’s not a message, guys. Instead, it contains the name of the person who started the conversation and the subject. This is a continuation of the previous tutorial, namely the Reading Pane feature menu.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

If you click on a message below the header, Outlook will display it in the Reading Pane as before.

New messages are automatically added to the top of the conversation below the header and are shown in bold italics to indicate that you haven’t read the message.

Do you prefer the way Gmail sorts your emails by conversation? Here’s how you can use this handy feature in Outlook too.

One cool feature in Outlook is the ability to sort and link your emails by conversation. This makes it easier to know what has been discussed in emails, and helps you keep your inbox more tidy. Some users don’t like their emails linked into conversations, and in the final release of Outlook it is turned off by default. Since this is a new feature, new users may overlook it and never know it’s available. Here’s how you can enable conversation view and keep your email conversations accessible and streamlined.

Activate Conversation View

By default, your inbox in Outlook will look much like it always has in Outlook…a list of individual emails.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

To view your emails by conversation, select the View tab and check the Show as Conversations box on the top left.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Alternately, click on the Arrange By tab above your emails, and select Show as Conversations.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Outlook will ask if you want to activate conversation view in only this folder or all folders. Choose All folders to view all emails in Outlook in conversations.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Outlook will now resort your inbox, linking emails in the same conversation together. Individual emails that don’t belong to a conversation will look the same as before, while conversations will have a white triangle carrot on the top left of the message title. Select the message to read the latest email in the conversation.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Or, click the triangle to see all of the messages in the conversation. Now you can select and read any one of them.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Most email programs and services include the previous email in the body of an email when you reply. Outlook can recognize these previous messages as well. You can navigate between older and newer messages from popup Next and Previous buttons that appear when you hover over the older email’s header. This works both in the standard Outlook preview pane and when you open an email in its own window.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Edit Conversation View Settings

Back in the Outlook View tab, you can tweak your conversation view to work the way you want. You can choose to have Outlook Always Expand Conversations, Show Senders Above the Subject, and to Use Classic Indented View. By default, Outlook will show messages from other folders in the conversation, which is generally helpful; however, if you don’t like this, you can uncheck it here. All of these settings will stay the same across all of your Outlook accounts.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

If you choose Indented View, it will show the title on the top and then an indented message entry underneath showing the name of the sender.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

The Show Senders Above the Subject view makes it more obvious who the email is from and who else is active in the conversation. This is especially useful if you usually only email certain people about certain topics, making the subject lines less relevant.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Or, if you decide you don’t care for conversation view, you can turn it off by unchecking the box in the View tab as above.

Conclusion

Although it may take new users some time to get used to, conversation view can be very helpful in keeping your inbox organized and letting important emails stay together. If you’re a Gmail user syncing your email account with Outlook, you may find this useful as it makes Outlook work more like Gmail, even when offline.

If you’d like to sync your Gmail account with Outlook, check out our article on syncing it with IMAP.

You can quickly change the appearance of the message list and reading pane in Outlook so it looks and behaves the way you want.

If you’re having trouble signing in to your Outlook.com account, see How to sign in to Outlook.com.

If you’re having trouble signing in to work or school account, see How to sign in to Outlook on the web.

Change how your email is sorted

At the top of the message list, select Filter.

Select Sort by and choose how you want to sort your email.

Open the Settings pane

To find the most frequently used Mail settings, select Settings at the top of the page.

To change settings not included in the Settings pane, select View all Outlook settings at the bottom of the Settings pane.

Theme

Under Theme, choose from one of the themes displayed. You can also select View all to choose from more options.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Dark mode

Dark mode switches the color scheme from a light background to a dark one. Turning on dark mode can reduce eye strain in low-light environments.

Focused Inbox

When Focused Inbox is on, Outlook automatically sorts messages in your Inbox into Focused and Other tabs to help you focus on what matters most. If you prefer to see all your email messages in one place instead of having them sorted into Focused and Other, select the toggle to turn it off.

Note: Focused Inbox applies only to your Inbox. It doesn’t sort messages in other folders.

Desktop notifications

Desktop notifications let you know when you’ve received a new message or have an upcoming calendar event, even when your browser window is minimized. You might need to enable notifications in your browser to use desktop notifications in Outlook.

Display density

Display density lets you adjust the spacing between messages in your message list. Choose Full to view sender images, attachment previews, and message preview text (sender, subject, and part of the first line of text). Medium shows only message preview text with some spacing between messages, and Compact shows only message preview text with minimal spacing between messages.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Conversation view

Conversation view groups your messages by conversation. You can view conversations with the Newest messages on top or Newest messages on bottom. If you prefer, you can turn Conversation view Off.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Reading pane

You can configure the Reading pane by selecting Show on the right or Show on the bottom. If you don’t want to use the reading pane, select Hide.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

See more settings

To find other ways to personalize your Outlook.com or Outlook on the web experience, scroll to the bottom of the Settings pane and select View all Outlook settings.

Still need help?

Note: You will need to sign in first to get support. If you can’t sign in, go to Account support.

Use Outlook’s conversation view to arrange related messages into meaningful groups.

Outlook displays messages as they’re received, but there are ways to rearrange messages. For instance, you can click the Subject or From title cell to group messages by the Subject or From text, respectively. Sometimes this quick fix is adequate, but sometimes it isn’t because the subject text often changes and threads often have responses from more than just one person.

Conversation view

When things are a bit too complex for a quick sort, use conversation view, but don’t stop at enabling the view. To take full advantage of the view, go a step further and apply the settings that will make the arrangement truly efficient.

To arrange messages by conversation, click the View tab and check the show As Conversation option in the Conversations group. Then, choose All Folders or This Folder. The differences are subtle, but Outlook identifies conversations with a small triangle to the left.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

To get the most out of conversation view, apply one or more of the settings. To do so, click the Conversation Settings dropdown. Perhaps the setting that provides the most insight and coverage is the one passed over the most. Be sure to check the Show Messages From Other Folders option, even if all your mail is in the Inbox. That way, Outlook will display messages you sent and stored in the Sent folder. These messages are an important part of the conversation but otherwise omitted from this view.

The Show Senders Above Subject option won’t add much to the view if your Inbox displays one-line headers. If you’re using multi-line headers, this option reverses the order of the From and Subject columns.

The third option, Always Expand Conversations is another setting that most users will want to use. Otherwise, you might lose context while browsing.

By applying the first and third settings, you completely change the view. You can see at a glance that Mary initiated a particular thread and that I (Susan) responded. That’s why you need to include that first setting. If you don’t enable this setting, you’ll see only the original message from Mary.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

Many users don’t bother to view Outlook threads as conversations because they don’t seem to get too much from the arrangement. The problem is that they just don’t go far enough-viewing messages as conversations can be helpful, but you won’t always appreciate the real advantages unless you apply the appropriate settings to the conversation view.

A few extras

If you don’t want to use conversation view, you don’t have to. With a message open, you can click the Related dropdown in the Editing group to see a list of all messages related to the current one. This route won’t provide the same flexibility, but it’s handy if you want to avoid conversation view.

How to toggle and customize conversation view in outlook

When using conversation view, consider positioning the reading pane to the right. Doing so is an efficient way to view all of the messages in the thread quickly. Outlook displays all of the messages in the Reading Pane regardless of its position, but viewing them on the right rather than below displays more text.

In addition, when working in conversation view, Outlook will apply many actions to all of the messages in the conversation, not just the current one. For instance, you can apply a category to a conversation by applying it to a single message. Later, when more messages in the conversation arrive, Outlook will automatically apply the same category to the incoming messages.