A description of how GMAIL Conversation Threads work

This page is intended as a functional description of the GMAIL conversation thread interface. Note that conversation threads are actually several features all working together to make a useful whole:

Viewing the Message in the message list

Here is how a new message appears:

The elements are:

Now, I've replied FROM GMAIL:

Notice that my reply is included in the thread automatically, but the new message isn't NEW, because I wrote it. Thus, the original email is still in the snippet.

Now, the original author has replied to my reply. We have a conversation thread going:

"Benjamin Kahn" is listed twice because that author has both read and unread messages in the thread. The snippet is now showing the first unread message.

Now I've read the reply:
Note that the message is no longer bold, the snippet is back to the orginal message, and "Benjamin Kahn" is listed only once.


Things to Ignore

Viewing a conversation thread

Here is what the conversation thread looks like when you read it in the middle. In the below picture, I've received an email, sent a reply, and gotten another one in return. I'm reading the conversation thread and the third message in particular for the first time:

Note that only the new message is being displayed while the previous messages are collapsed. Clicking on their headers will expand them. (And clicking on them again will hide them again.)

The headers are mostly hidden to conserve screen space. You can expand them by clicking on "show details":

Some of the quoted text is hidden. I'll cover the behavior of quoted text hiding a little later.

If I later go back to this thread when there are no new messages, all the messages are shown except for the ones from me:


Things to Ignore

How GMAIL hides message content

There are examples above but the rules are:


GMAIL is a trademark of Google, Inc.