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I’m frustrated

Why can't I turn off conversation threading in gmail; it's fatal for my business!

Emails of information for non-related clients are clumped together because they come from the same source, making it easy to miss new, important info emails and impossible to dump all the duds without also deleting the few important ones. If conversation grouping can't be turned off and on by the user or eliminated, I have to dump Gmail, as have many others I saw on another website who also bitterly complained about this threading feature (bug?)
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  • Hi Cupcake,

    I'm sorry that you're unhappy about how Gmail conversation view works presently. I know that the team always welcomes feedback (http://mail.google.com/support/bin/re..., and you can now also use IMAP with the software or service of your choice (at no charge from Google); for instance, you could choose to access your Gmail messages via the open source program Thunderbird, which allows you to choose threaded and unthreaded styles for your message view.
    • Hello Adam
      I work freelance for a company using my own compters, and their Firewall will not allow me to SEND mail using IMAP, and I cannot send using their SMPT server, so I am stuck with this awful conversation threaded limitation. I often lose messages and it is a complete pain and has got me into trouble a number of times "didn't you get my mail from two days ago??!" - and it was buried deep in some long thread...
      PLEASE allow UN-trheaded messages in gmail.
      Thanks
      Mark Palmos
      London
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  • I’m generally happy, though it's bitten me in the past
    It's true, there are numerous contexts where threading is a hindrance not a help. Since emails that share the same subject line are grouped, it is far too easy to miss messages that are unrelated.

    For instance, there have been times in the past when I've sent many customers an update message or have used the same subject line generically ("Hello from Thor!"). Every reply becomes part of the thread even though the subject matter ranges all over the place. Visually it is a lot easier to miss messages when they're buried in a busy thread. I have often missed important messages because of this.

    In short, it would be nice to be able to turn off threading. But what Adam says is true, we can always work around the feature by using a desktop (or mobile) client that doesn't maintain the threading. The IMAP feature is awesome from what I've seen.
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  • I’m kidding
    Why not assign a SID when communicating with a client!
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  • I’m confident
    Adam, I would say it would be useful to get Gmail to work as a CRM SID as an optional functionaality by user request.

    This will be a great contribution to bring Gmail as a business solution.

    So maybe a check box when replying an email with two selective options to process by topic or by sid.

    It would be extremly easy to implement without major modifications of the platform. Just set a limit of carachters to thread a topic and the sid becomes the topic!
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  • I’m disappointed.
    "Visually it is a lot easier to miss messages when they're buried in a busy thread. I have often missed important messages because of this..."

    I'm afraid I just learned that I missed several important emails over the past three days. I am new to Gmail, and I'm surprised that we can't view messages in a more traditional format.

    I would prefer not to use another email client, as I use several different machines throughout the day here at the high school where I work, many of which do not allow downloading and installation of email clients due to network restrictions designed to thwart student-initiated damage.

    Am I missing something obvious within Gmail that would alert me that a new response has been received in an existing conversation? I only found the missed responses by clicking into each one of my previously read messages and looking for new responses.
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  • I’m fully acclimated now
    I've had this happen numerous times, though I've definitely become sensitized over the years to the interface cues. Basically when there's a new response the thread jumps to the top of your inbox and regains its bold "unread" status. If it's a long thread the previous messages will be collapsed so that the most recent message isn't pushed down too far, but otherwise you do need to scroll down.

    I've found this problem is the worst when there are a tremendous number of replies, and the replies have little to do with each other. It's also a problem when the subject line is generic.
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  • I’m dealing.
    I'm so new to Gmail, that I hadn't quite registered the visual cues (boldface, etc.) Thank you for the tip.

    I was bewildered to discover that one of my "missed" responses was actually three separate replies to my one original message. In my previous email environments, these three separate replies would appear as three separate messages at the top of my Inbox. Not so in Gmail, I guess.

    Thank you again.
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  • I've had this problem too. I used the account for conference registration and we just lost track of what messages we received or moved on to another account. For some reason I never found out, one submission didn't show up at all, although we found it afterwards when searching for the name. We missed 2-3 submissions because of the thread system, and had to do extend the review process with 2 weeks. I think the conversation system only works for very specific contexts, and it should not be the only interface or even the default one.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I've got this problem as well!

    Why can't I just choose "unthread conversation" as an option in Gmail? Now I gotta install ANOTHER client on my PC, JUST so I don't have to have email threads? Ugh!

    Gmail does SO much, how difficult would it be for the developers to enable users to "turn off" this feature, as opposed to driving us to add MORE software to our already bloated PC's? (Which I cannot do at my job, since I'm not allowed to install software on their machines.) I thought that Google was all about web functionality???
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  • Conversation threading is an essential feature of Gmail, and most of the time I love it.

    The one time it's completely unworkable is when I want to delete / label specific messages within a thread. Since I like to populate my to-do list from Gmail tags, it's helpful to see the specific email with action item tagged, rather than the entire conversation thread.
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  • I just don't understand why Google has to be such a Nazi about it. Is it their way or the highway? I too have lost emails because of this. I have been to their headquarters. Maybe because it looks like they are all treated like little children with primary colors and lets decorate our desks...etc. that the engineers feel the need to treat us as children. What is with this "how does it make you feel?" what am I 6 years old?
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  • I’m happy
    I have had enough of Google mail, this forced conversation thread thing has driven me to Yahoo!, and it looks fantastic! I dont know why I did not do it sooner, perhaps because google is my default search engine, but now I will move mail completely to Yahoo and use googlemail as a backup.

    Try Yahoo, it works as I would want/expect.

    Cheers,
    Mark.
    • I used to have Yahoo, I switched to Gmail because first, my PAID yahoo account was hijacked and I tried to reclaim stating to yahoo I could confirm the credit card name and address and everything but the secret question. Yet they refused to even close the account so because of this I have incurred fraudulent charges to things that were linked to that account and my name has be defamed online in many places.
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  • I’m relieved!
    I agree Mark. I started the thread about this problem but I finally snapped and went to Yahoo also. Yahoo is far superior for this reason alone but I also like their folder system. Whew.
    • I used to have Yahoo, I switched to Gmail because first, my PAID yahoo account was hijacked and I tried to reclaim stating to yahoo I could confirm the credit card name and address and everything but the secret question. Yet they refused to even close the account so because of this I have incurred fraudulent charges to things that were linked to that account and my name has be defamed online in many places.
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  • I’m a believer
    If you want speed and searchability then Gmail is far superior. The fast, comprehensive search mostly makes folders/labels unnecessary for my fast-paced life. I know many people like the Outlook foldered approach, which Yahoo Mail emulates well, but I do love my Gmail.
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    • Except I can't search by date and time...

      The searchability of Gmail might be far superior if I could search through a conversation with 4000+ emails for a specific timestamp, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

      Personally, I love the filter/label option over the folder approach, even from the web admin side (where we have conversations over 4000+ emails long). I'd just like to not deal with scrolling through a "conversation" of emails over the past decade to find a donation receipt from a month ago...

      Yes, we've made a workaround, but it's tacky (including a timestamp in the subject line). It also doesn't account for the thousands of emails that were converted from our old account.
    • Except I can't search through a conversation by date and time...

      The searchability of Gmail might be far superior if I could search through a conversation with 4000+ emails for a specific timestamp, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

      Personally, I love the filter/label option over the folder approach, even from the web admin side (where we have conversations over 4000+ emails long). I'd just like to not deal with scrolling through a "conversation" of emails over the past decade to find a donation receipt from a month ago...

      Yes, we've made a workaround, but it's tacky (including a timestamp in the subject line). It also doesn't account for the thousands of emails that were converted from our old account.
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  • I’m frustrated
    This converstation threading is absolutely diabolical. I live in constant fear of replying to the wrong people, missing a response to an email (as it lumps 200 responses from 1 group email into the same thread), missing a hardware failure notification etc.
    I find it totally unmanageable, even after 6 months of persevering with it. The old standard interface is 1 million times better for me.
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  • Hi Cupcake, yeah, its awful, so change to Yahoo Mail, I did and get my gmail forwarded there. It has folders, filters etc... Ive changed to Yahoo Mail pro, only $20 a year and worth it...
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  • I’m sad
    Yes, I have had it with google threading. It makes you miss emails. Reply to the wrong people. I have waited paitently for google to make it an option (2 years!). It is obvious that they think it is a plus. Most people don't know how to complain about it!

    I get complaints everyday, and there is always astonishment when I have to say there is no-way to disable the feature.

    Onward to test Yahoo.
    rlt.
    comeandget.us
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  • I’m spent
    Sometimes, I just need to exchange a piece of information with a colleague for a later date/time.

    Perhaps I'm just not with it...
    I don't need every single message to become an episode in a soap opera.

    Perhaps they should rename it D-mail for "Drama"
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  • Like so many I also feel that the compulsory conversation threading is more of a headache than a blessing. Perhaps if it could optionally be used on a per-subject basis or something along those lines it might be helpful on occasion. The only other option from the GMail side of things is to use the GMail filtering or "tagging" feature. However this still needs much development as it is largely unsatisfactory in it's functionality. The best option that I have found at this point is to use a third-party email program such as Outlook or Thunderbird. I had abandoned Thunderbird awhile back, but recently revisited Thunderbird when I was looking at paying another hundred-something-dollars for outlook when I bought a new computer. Thunderbird has come a long way in it's functionality and at this point I don't think I will have to look at a different email program ever again. Anywho ... back to the subject at hand. Utilizing a third-party email program to access GMail gives you maximum control over your email and bypasses the compulsory GMail conversation threading.
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  • I just deleted an important thread by mistake due to the threading.

    I am reminded of the CorelDraw clipart manual.

    One year there must have been an ideologue of some sort in charge of the CorelDraw clipart manual. The previous year's manuals had pictures to represent the topics of different sections of the clipart, along with words for the topics in English, French, German and a few other languages. On the year of the pigheaded designer, the text was removed, leaving only pictures to find the topics with, to make it more politically correct by not picking 5 or 6 out of all the languages in the world to include and thereby excluding all the rest. This of course made it much harder to find topics.

    The next version's manual reverted to the old, far superior topic headings with both pictures and words in multiple languages. The pigheaded decision was overturned in favor of giving users what they want and need.

    I suspect that in order for Google to overturn it's pigheaded "threaded only" decision will require the person responsible for the error to quit, get fired, die, or otherwise leave their job and get replaced by someone who wants to give users what they report they want and need.
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  • The reason google search works so well is that it give people what they want. Why cant they do the same with email? Do they have a We can do no wrong attitude?

    If they did a simple survey, they would find enough people want this feature in addition to a sort by date, time or sender. Geez, yahoo has that. So does it make any sense that yahoo mail is so much more popular?

    Wake up please.
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  • I’m confused and disappointed
    I am so relieved to find this thread - I feel like I've reached a support group! I live in San Francisco and met a gmail developer through friends. I asked him how to turn of the conversation feature and he flashed - he went into a tirade and actually referred to me as a "stupid outlook user".
    I had switched to gmail a few months ago when I left my isp and got an iphone all around the same time. I have my own domain, so I figured I'd just route everything through gmail and pick it up through Mac Mail at home or iphone clients. It worked beautifully! Trouble is, when I'm away from my client and want to access my mail through a bigger screen than my iphone, I'm stuck with the gmail format. I had no idea I could not shut off the conversation feature, now I feel married to it. It looked like such a good idea at the time. I've lost or missed communcations as described above, but also lose temporal context in the email string: If someone sends a separate message on the same topic but with a different subject line, say we're planning a get-together, I have to go into that conversation and the other conversation(s) and try to stitch together who said what when in response to whom. It's diabolical. It's inane. I mean, how hard is it to sort by subject?? If that's what I wanted, I'd do it. Google: Turn it off. how integral can it possibly be? If my mail client can to it, so can you.
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  • I feel the same way as most of you do. I thought that Google was about letting you do things your way - oh wait, that is Burger King.
    It is frustrating that such a good company has decided that this feature is better than what I do now and has decided to force me to use it. I sent them a suggestion to allow the option to turn it off - through the comment link in the reply, and I referenced this thread. I hope that it does some good.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I did try to get used to the threaded conversation feature, but after a couple of years I keep having problems with this feature, which just recently resulted in sending a wrong message to the wrong people a couple of times.
    I wonder why Google is taking an arrogant and non user friendly approach on this!

    The IMAP suggestion is not solving my problem because of firewall limitations, so this forces me to abandon GMAIL.
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  • I’m frustrated and disappointed
    Metoometoometoo. I set up my Gmail account with an invite as soon as they launched it. I use it for backup of data and as a test email account. I've been waiting to make the switch until they provide unthreading, for all the reasons listed above. But I lost hope a long time ago. Google has too much power now to really pay attention to user needs. Power corrupts. Too bad!
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  • Like many others, I'd appreciate the option to turn OFF conversation threads. I like web based e-mail access, and G-Mail's integration with Blackberry, but the threads are a nuisance.
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  • I signed up at Zenbe.com, which provide POP3 access to my gmail from anywhere via the web, without having to install any software, and allows me to see the maill by order received. Zenbe also let's you access facebook and other such things, has a calendar-todo-list application, etc.
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  • Do you know of something web based like Zenbe that uses IMAP?

    Zenbe says IMAP support will arrive sometime.

    I can't really tell when using it for my somewhat limited purposes what difference it would make for it to be using IMAP instead of pop.
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  • I've tried using gmail. It's faster than yahoo and has some great features. I love a lot about google in general ie. gmaps etc.. I retried it again starting a month ago. I just missed yet another email in "pile" in the inbox.

    But it's waaaaayyy to easy to miss an email visually. The bottom line is that all of the arguments for gmail or any of it's features don't mean very much when you've missed the original email due to threading feature.

    I understand why or how a company could develop something like gmail and not foresee how a feature would affect people. What's annoying is how many people hate this feature (there are reams of complaints on the net) and gmail continues to ignore it.

    I don't know about anyone else but many, maybe most of my emails, consist of a message and a reply or two. I certainly don't want every conversation with someone "linked"!

    I've used Yahoo mail for years. It's not perfect and isn't as "techy" as gmail. On the other hand, it works just fine w/o installing IMAP or anything else.....

    Why fight it?
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  • GMail is a great service and has made my life a whole lot easier. But as a developer myself i must say that not having the ability to unthread is a big hassle. Especially for my bug reports, which customers always label the same...
    Also gmail easily thinks of unrelated mails with similar titles as one conversation, when in fact its more... This is a big problem.

    Thanks you !
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  • I personally don't have a problem with it. However, I think they should listen others do.
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  • What are the free alternatives to Gmail that don't have hideous moving ads and massive spam and a terrible spam filter like for example Yahoo mail does?
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  • RE: Suezanne Baskerville's comment.
    Honestly, why not just go to yahoo mail? I know it's slower at times but what's worse, losing emails entirely or having a couple of ads on the page? If it's that important, you could probably just pay the $20/yr to dump the ads?
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  • I’m happy
    I've found a good alternative to gmail. You can try it out in gmx.com. It has free IMAP, POP3 access just like gmail, but without the threaded webmail interface.
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  • GMX has ads with pictures in the emails, right? I couldn't tell from looking if it has video ads or still images. Gmail's text ads off to the side aren't too annoying to me.

    Yahoo's spam filter sucks.

    Does GMX allow you to see a threaded view when you want?

    True threads are made from replies to replies to replies, not just matching subjects

    I'd like to see the incoming mail by order received or order sent, as I choose, and then for any particular message, have a option to see the thread the message is in, in forward or reverse sequence.
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  • SuezanneC Baskerville said:

    Yahoo's spam filter sucks.

    FYI. I don't know if you email a lot more than I do but I've never had trouble with more than an occasional spam email using the free version. The paid version includes an additonal 35 filters.....

    Best wishes.
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  • I’m confused
    I am sure thousands of users just give up on gmail because of the threading "feature". I expect I will. It's jaw-dropping arrogance by G to ignore the requirement to have a normal inbox.
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  • I’m disappointed.
    This thread will go down in the annals of Internet history as one which displays that Google DO NOT LISTEN TO USERS. With great power comes great arrogance, they are rapidly becoming the new Microsoft and underestimating the importance of the user community, as an Information Architect myself I can confidently say that the 'conversation view' has more holes than Swiss cheese and is fundamentally flawed. Google cannot change the habits I have built up using email since before they decided to exist, and it is pompous to think otherwise.
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  • I’m annoyed
    I have moved to yahoo.
    not as fast, but it behaves as I would like an email programme to behave WRT NOT threading messages.
    Poor show Google. Take your collective heads out of your behinds!
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  • I also hate this feature. I have commented numerous times on Gmail's useless help site, and get no response. I have too many people who use my email address for me to dump gmail, but I am advising everyone I know to not get a gmail address. I stop strangers on the street just to tell them how bad gmail is. Well, not yet but I am thinkong about it.

    Why is Google so arrogant about this?
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  • 6
    I have the same problem. I found this page a few minutes ago:
    http://mail.google.com/support/bin/re...

    It lets you make a suggestion for new features.
    Look under "Organization", then select "Conversation View changes".

    There you'll find:
    "Turn Conversation View off"
    "Ability to add or remove messages from conversations"
    "Filter or label a message within a conversation"

    I selected all these, and sent them the request.

    Hopefully many others will do the same.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I can only assume now that the reason for Google's resistance to repeated user requests for a conversation view off option is stubborn pride:

    probably a view individuals there in the google tech dept who - as the creators of this "unique" feature - are loathe to back track in any way on "their baby" and feel that more time exposure will simply force "stubborn" users to "just get used to it" whereby eventually reducing the number of complaints. This apparent attitude smacks of immaturity.

    Google shoudl not allow apparent personal emotion to override public service delivery - the fact is, a large proportion of users (current and potential) DO IN FACT experience difficulty in locating previously sent or received messages because conversation view hides them.

    Surely Google realizes that it can attract more users - and keep them - by not continuing to ignore or play down complains in this regard?
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  • I’m sad
    I agree completely with Arthur,

    Placing such a limitation without the option to have messages threaded or unthreaded way DOES seem like the stubbornness of some self-important Google wanker who is protecting HIS precious VISION (pleeeze, spare us your vision!!!) at the cost of an option that a lot of users are begging for.

    Oh dear, will Android go the same way, or will Gmail start listening???
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  • I’m hopeful
    I suggest you all go over to Google and make a feature request, it may help, you never know, the squeaky wheel gets the oil you know!

    http://services.google.com/feedback/g...
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  • I'm not saying don't do it, but don't expect much by actually appealing to Google in a sensible way. I've posted over there as have many others.
    | wouldn't waste too much time - Go post and then take a shot at Yahoo mail or something like it.
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  • I’m pis**d off
    I HAVE THIS PROBLEM -
    I just set up a Gmail account because STUPID MSN randomly blocked email to my girl's Hotmail for a few days recently...
    so I sign up, thinking Gmail would be the coolest solution -
    then I notice the STUPID permanent threaded discussion feature, my girl is complaining that she can't find stuff, and I spend FAR TOO MUCH time looking through the account/settings to find out how to turn the STUPID (to me) THREADING off. So here I am, wasting time, looking for another email solution. Sorry for yelling, but WHAT THE H***, Google? This is just silly.
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  • I’m frustrated
    What's ironic is that the Gmail message threading works at its absolute worst with Google Alerts. They are all clustered together as if they're a thread, when each one is an independent message. When you get hundreds of alerts a week for a single keyword search, it becomes nigh impossible to delete a single message, to find the most recent one, or to scroll through the long overlapped headers.

    For its message threading, Google gets an F- for interface design and an F- for customer service. The failures of Google are many but never has one been so easy to fix.
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  • I’m indifferent
    can't someone build some kind of a greasemonkey thing to unthread the emails? Or, maybe we can ask the bettergmail FireFox extension people to do this?
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  • I’m dealing, but hopeful
    I both love and hate the threading. It's useful for a helpdesk so other users of the account can quickly see what's been written before them, but on the other hand, when several msgs are replying to one mass mailing, all with a different problem, it becomes a nightmare to figure out who needs what remedy. Labels help, but we still risk replying to the wrong person and overlooking responses.

    My solution has been to change the subject when I first reply to a message in this case. That breaks the thread.

    I hope, though, that a future Gmail release will include the ability to break msgs out of a thread on a case-by-case basis.
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  • I agree with a lot of people here, let me the user choose if I want threading or not. Please!!
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