How to Read Emails in Threads With iPhone Mail

Thread your email conversations for a cleaner inbox

E-mail application on iPhone 6S Screen

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One message here, another down there, and several messages in between: following an email conversation can be difficult in an inbox arranged by message arrival time. To simplify following a discussion, email threading is turned on by default on the iPhone. Email threads are groups of related messages. Each thread includes an original email, all the responses to it, and forwards of it, all arranged in chronological order. If threaded conversations are turned off on your iPhone, here's how to turn it back on.

Instructions in this article apply to iOS 12, iOS 11, and iOS 10.

How to Turn On Threading in iPhone Mail

To have iPhone Mail display your email in threads of related messages:

  1. Go to the iPhone home screen and tap the Settings app.

  2. Select Mail.

  3. Scroll to the Threading section and turn on the Organize by Thread toggle switch.

    Settings icon, Mail button, Organize by Thread toggle in iOS

In the Mail app message list, treat a thread like an individual email for deletion, flagging, or filing. Your action applies to all messages in the conversation.

How to Turn Off Threading in Mail

If you don't want to use threaded email conversations, turn them off by reversing the process. Return to the Threading section of the Mail preferences and turn off the Organize by Thread toggle switch.

Additional Threading Settings

Additional options in the Threading section include:

  • Collapse Read Messages: New in iOS 11, Collapse Read Messages is enabled by default. When enabled, all read messages in a thread are collapsed, which makes it easy to see which messages are new when a thread is opened.
  • Most Recent Message on Top: This setting positions the most recent message at the top of the thread rather than the oldest message, which was the default when iOS 10 was released.
  • Complete Threads: Shows every message in a thread, including those that were moved to different mailboxes.

Tips for Participating in Threads

Threads can become long and involved, so it is important to stay on topic. If you want to talk about something else, send a different email, and it can morph into a thread of its own.

When you forward a thread, simplify it by stripping out any unnecessary images, like company logos.

Restate your point or the initial purpose of the thread if the original email is buried deep in the thread.

When you add someone to an existing thread, notify everybody to avoid any embarrassing comments about that person appearing.