When Gmail was released one of the big attention getters was the concept of threaded messages or conversations – replies get grouped together for easy reading. I got an account to check it and the other features out and while it was cool I just never got around to making everyone email at that address instead of my other webmail accounts. I still use a rather clunky webmail account as my main contact despite the fact that the service has absolutely nothing innovative about its UI (unless you count zero ads, which is the seller for me).

All email related to this site gets directed to a different address through my hosting provider. To access that email I either login to the extra old skool Squirrel web interface or grab it through a local client. Given my love for Mozilla, I use Thunderbird. The account gets used here and there for general and professional correspondence but largely it just serves me notices of site comments. What I’m getting at is I don’t end up using Thunderbird enough to really investigate all its features.

Today I noticed a little quote bubble icon. I clicked it. Magic. My inbox was organized into a threaded map grouping similar emails. And it went beyond just grouping the RE:’s – it actually filtered subject lines. For example, all the comments for a particular post grouped themselves nicely into a collapsible thread.

This is probably old news to most and may be a feature in a lot of email clients – I found Outlook has a “Conversations” option for sort order. Regardless, it makes me wonder why I depend so much on webmail when email clients actually can do some pretty convenient things. It may be time to start converting.

This is the wordiest post I’ve had in a while.


  1. matches 20060514

    I h8 threaded messages. Totally, utterly useless for me.

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