How to Read Emails in Threads With iPhone Mail

Thread your email conversations for a cleaner inbox

What to Know

  • Turn on threading: Go to Settings > Mail. In the Threading section, turn on Organize by Thread.
  • Also, select Most Recent Message on Top so that you see the newer emails in the thread, not the old ones.
  • In the Mail app, a thread behaves like a single email when you flag, delete, or file it.

This article explains how to turn on threading in the iPhone Mail app. The article includes tips for participating in threads. This information applies to iPhones with iOS 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, and 10.

How to Turn On Threading in iPhone Mail

Following an email conversation can be difficult when your inbox is arranged by message arrival time. Email threading is turned on by default on the iPhone to help you follow a discussion. Each thread includes the original email, all responses to it, and all forwards of it arranged in chronological order.

If threaded conversations are turned off on your iPhone, here's how to turn them back on so that you can see the complete thread.

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

  2. Scroll down and 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 as you would an individual email when deleting, flagging, or filing emails. Your action applies to all messages in the conversation.

How to Turn Off Threading in iPhone Mail

If you don't want to use threaded email conversations, you can 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: The Collapse Read Messages setting is enabled by default. When enabled, all read messages in a thread are collapsed, making 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.
  • Complete Threads: Shows every message in a thread, including messages that were moved to different mailboxes.

Tips for Participating in Threads

  • Stay on topic. To avoid a thread full of unrelated information, remain on topic. If you want to start a new topic, send a different email and let it morph into a thread of its own.
  • Strip unnecessary images such as company logos.
  • Restate your point or the initial purpose of the thread if the original email is buried deep within the thread.
  • Notify everyone in the thread when you add someone new to the thread.
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