View Mail Grouped by Conversation in Windows Live Mail

Conversation View in Windows Live Mail: Off vs. On
Conversation View in Windows Live Mail: Off vs. On. Microsoft, Inc.

One message here, one there, and another over there: what do they have in common?

They are all part of one conversation of and under the same "subject". What they do not share, alas, in Windows Live Mail is a common location and order—so you can read them in easy, successive order; not yet!

It's easy, fortunately, to have Windows Live Mail group mail by subject.

View Mail Grouped by Conversation Thread in Windows Live Mail

To have Windows Live Mail arrange messages by conversation, grouping messages with matching subjects so you can read them in order:

  1. Make sure the View toolbar is active in Windows Live Mail.
    • Click View if you cannot see it.
  2. Make sure messages are sorted by date:
    1. Click Sort by in the Arrangement section.
    2. Select Date (or Date (Conversations)).
  3. Now click Conversations in the Arrangement section.
  4. Select On.

To expand a conversation, click the right-pointing triangle in front of the oldest message in the thread.

Pros and Cons of Conversation View in Windows Live Mail

Two main benefits come with having mail organized by thread in Windows Live Mail:

  • You see and can read messages in their context; it is much more logical and useful to proceed from one message in a conversation to its reply instead of, say, a totally unrelated newsletter.
  • When messages are grouped in conversations, messages in it are not as easily missed as they might be in between tons of other mail.

Windows Live Mail’s threaded display is not without its drawbacks, however:

  • Windows Live Mail will not include messages from other folders in the conversation view. To see received and sent messages in a thread, for example, you have to move both to a single folder.
  • If a sender changes the subject while responding to a conversation, that message might appear outside the thread in Windows Live Mail—and be missed.
  • Windows Live Mail might group many, many unread issues of newsletters that all arrived with the same Subject line, turning them into what can seem like an unsurmountable (and monotonous) challenge to open and read.