New to Mac? How to work with conversations in Mail

Conversations in the Mail app Mac

The Mail app uses what are called Conversations to group your emails together. This is handy when you and your recipient are emailing back and forth on the same subject because all of those communications will be in the same thread.

And you can do a few things with conversations in the Mail app like highlight, expand and collapse, or disable them all. If the conversations in the Mail app on Mac are new to you, here’s how to work with them.

View your conversations

Expanding your conversations is a little different depending on if you use the Column layout in the Mail app or not.

In Column layout, you’ll see an arrow on the left of grouped conversations. Just click the arrow to expand the emails.

Mail arrow expand conversations

In the default layout, you’ll see a number on the right of the message group showing how many emails are in the conversation. Click that number to expand the emails.

Mail number conversations

In either layout, you can also click View > Expand All Conversations from the menu bar.

Highlight conversations in Mail

For ongoing conversations, adding a highlight can make them stand out so you can spot them easier.

Click View > Highlight Conversations from the menu bar.

If you disable the conversation view, which we’ll show you later, and click Highlight Conversations, you’ll see the other emails in the thread highlight when you select one of them.

Mail highlighted conversations

You can select a different color for the highlight in this case by following these steps.

1) Click Mail > Preferences from the menu bar.

2) Select the Viewing tab.

3) Under View conversations, click the highlight color for Highlight messages with color when not grouped and choose a color.

Mail Preferences Viewing highlight color

Exclude emails from other mailboxes in conversations

The Mail app will include all messages grouped in conversations regardless of which mailbox they reside in, but you can disable this if you like.

1) Click Mail > Preferences from the menu bar.

2) Select the Viewing tab.

3) Under View conversations, uncheck the box for Include related messages.

Mail Preferences Viewing uncheck related messages

If you want to temporarily exclude related messages, you can do this as well. This will hide the messages until you quit the Mail app and reopen it.

Select the conversation and click View > Hide Related Messages from the menu bar.

Disable conversation grouping

If you find that you’re not fond of the conversation grouping, you can easily turn it off. Click View > Organize by Conversation from the menu bar to uncheck and disable it.

Wrapping it up

Using the built-in conversation feature in the Mail app can be very helpful for keeping related emails together. But it’s not for everyone. What are your thoughts on conversations in Mail? Do you prefer them or plan to turn them off?

For more help with the Mail app as a new Mac user, check out how to set up multiple email signatures and how to use the unsubscribe feature.