Join Gini von Courter for an in-depth discussion in this video Viewing messages by conversation, part of Outlook 2010: Effective Email Management.
Here is the situation. Olivia, who owns this Inbox and is responsible for responding to the e-mail in it, has been on vacation for two weeks. When she returns, she comes back to a series of conversations that have been happening, and they are scattered all over the place. There will be an initial conversation that starts here and then a follow-up message that appears later on. She doesn't have an easy way, in this view, to actually tell that these two messages go together. Fortunately, Outlook 2010 has a great new Conversation view that allows Olivia to take a look at the messages that have come in, and to sort them and group them by conversation.
To switch to Conversation view in any view, you click the View tab on the Ribbon and choose the Show as Conversations check box. A dialog box opens that asks you, first, are you sure you want to do this? If you don't, you could choose Cancel. But then it says, do you want to use conversations only here in the Inbox or in all the folders that you have? Once you get used to using Conversations, you won't want to not use them anywhere. So, I would simply suggest that you choose All Folders. When I do, Microsoft Outlook rips through all the folders, not just the Inbox, but every folder here in Outlook, and arranges items by conversation.
You can tell it's a conversation in a couple of ways: one is that's you'll actually see a small triangle out to the left of the importance icon. If I click that triangle, it will expand the conversation. Second, I can tell, by looking at the number in parentheses behind the first message so, here is a two-message conversation, a four-message conversation and some other two-message conversations. The nice thing about this is that I can tell, pretty easily, if there is a conversation that's has had a lot of activity or just a little bit of activity.
If one of these says 25 items in the conversation, I begin to understand where the energy has been in my organization since I left. When I expand this conversation that says it has four e-mails in it, you might notice that there are actually more than four. When I click once, it show me the four here in my Inbox. When I click again, it shows me additional e-mails, and you'll notice that these are e-mails that Olivia sent. They are italicized and gray, they are not in this folder, and in this case they come to us from the Sent Items folder.
This would look the same if they'd come to us from a subfolder of the Inbox. Everything that is not resident in this folder is grayed and italicized, so that you can keep track. But this part of the feature, the ability to show the whole conversation, not just the incoming conversation but also Olivia's responses, is just fantastic, because it means that I don't have to switch back and forth from the Inbox to Sent Items and back, in order to see the entire conversation from top to bottom. There are settings in Conversation view that you can tweak to make it work exactly the way you'd like it to.
On the View tab in the Conversations group, if I choose Conversation Settings, I have four settings. One is Show Messages from Other Folders, and that's that ability to see the massages that came out of the Sent Items folder. If we turn this off and expand, you'll notice that there are no Sent Items. They won't appear here at all. I'd encourage you to leave this sign because this first setting is one of the most exciting settings about conversations is the ability to pull items from various folders. The second simply note where the sender is positioned relative to the subject, and it depends on the width of your Information viewer.
So, don't spend a lot of time in trying to decide if you want the sender above or below, because you'll really notice a real difference with that choice. This third is to Always Expand Conversations. When this is turned off, all conversations are automatically collapsed. So we se this view, with fewer lines and with the triangles. If we always expand the conversations in Conversations Settings, then when we switch into the Inbox, for example, all of the conversations would automatically be expanded.
Then finally there is a Classic Indented view that we have from Outlook 2007 and before. In the Classic Indented view, when expand the conversation you'll notice that items are indented slightly. If you like that, you can turn it on. If not, you can turn it off. But these are the settings, by default, when you switch to Conversation view, that you see right here. One more benefit of Conversation view - it's subtle, but if I am in Conversation view, when I choose, for example, this e-mail and double-click and then reply to it, I will get a message that says, "You are not responding to the latest message in this conversation.
Click here to open it." Now, I get this message anytime I am in Microsoft Outlook 2010 and I reply to a message when there is a later message in the conversation. But the nice thing is that I am less likely to have that happen to me in Conversation view. When I do click to open the latest message in the conversation, it will be the top message that I see if I go back to my Inbox. So, when I return to the office, or when Olivia returns to her office, Conversation view makes it very easy to know what messages are here, how they grouped in conversations, and to easily choose the most recent message in any conversation to view information about that conversation as a whole.
Conversation view, just another great new feature in Outlook 2010.
- Viewing messages by conversation
- Tagging messages with flags and categories
- Understanding flags and the To Do list
- Sorting and filtering email
- Creating a search folder
- Creating QuickSteps and email rules
- Using automatic replies