How to View Mail Grouped by Conversation Thread in Outlook

Keep Outlook email conversations in order

Instead of searching for all of the messages belonging to a conversation in multiple folders such as your Inbox, archive, and Sent Mail folders, have Outlook do the organizing and group together messages that belong to the same conversation.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

Person viewing email grouped by thread in Microsoft Outlook
Maddy Price / Lifewire

View Mail Grouped by Conversation Thread in Outlook

Outlook collects messages in a conversation from multiple days and folders, then it displays them all together.

  1. Start Outlook and go to the View tab.

    View tab in Outlook
  2. In the Messages group, select Show as Conversations.

    Show as Conversations checkbox in Outlook
  3. To enable conversation view for the current folder only, select This folder.

    Show as Conversations confirmation dialog box
  4. Or, to apply conversation view to all your Outlook folders immediately, select All mailboxes.

Include Your Sent Mail (And Other Folders) in Conversations

Set Outlook to group messages in the same folder and draw from other folders, including Sent Items.

  1. Start Outlook and go to the View tab.

    Screenshot of View tab
  2. In the Messages group, select Show as Conversations.

    Screenshot showing Show as Conversations
  3. Select Conversation Settings.

    Screenshot of Conversation Settings
  4. Select Show Messages from Other Folders.

How Does Conversation View Work?

Conversations show as an arrow to the left of the most recent message in the conversation. To see the other messages in the conversation, select the arrow to expand the thread. Select the arrow a second time to hide the thread.

Screenshot of example conversation

Unread messages appear in bold; any collapsed conversation with at least one unread message appears in bold, too.

To streamline conversations, have Outlook remove redundant, quoted messages; for irrelevant threads, Outlook can also delete future messages automatically.

Other Conversation View Settings

The Conversation Settings menu has a few more choices:

  • Show Senders Above the Subject: Outlook displays From: names first followed by the Subject lines in a thread. When this option is off, Subject lines are above sender names.
  • Always Expand Selected Conversation: Outlook messages are expanded to display all the emails in a conversation when you open the conversation.
  • Use Classic Indented View: Outlook displays threads in a list that has replies indented below the messages they answer. When this option is off, threads are shown as a flat list.

'Show as Conversations' Is Grayed Out. What Can I Do?

Outlook can group conversations by thread only when the emails in a folder are sorted by date. If the messages are arranged another way, Show as Conversations is grayed out and unavailable to check.

To change the view to enable Conversations:

  1. Go to the View tab and select Change View.

    Change View button in Outlook
  2. Select Save Current View As a New View.

    Save Current View As a New View option in Outlook
  3. Enter a name for the view that will help you recognize the view's settings, then select OK.

    Copy of Compact
  4. In the Arrangement group, select Date.

    Arrange by Date checkbox in Filter menu for Outlook
  5. Your emails are arranged in date order and you can view messages as conversation threads.