Message threading in Thunderbird - keep messages grouped by conversation

Threading is a useful way of displaying your message list in Thunderbird. Instead of just listing messages sorted by date, Thunderbird can group messages in tree-like structures by conversations.

TB message threading

What is threading?

Threading puts email conversations together hierarchically. This is especially handy to keep conversations on mailing lists organized, with a lot of people replying to various messages of a conversation. Also, it saves you from losing individual messages of a conversation in stacks of other messages, and lets you perform mass actions like deleting or ignoring a whole conversation. Sounds useful? Let's try!

Enable threading

Threading is turned off by default in Thunderbird but you can easily turn it on.

  1. Click the menu button new fx menu and select the View menu (or, press the Alt key to make the classic menu bar appear and open the View menu).On the menu bar, click on the View menu.At the top of the Thunderbird window, click on the View menu.
  2. In the Sort by submenu, click Threaded. Your messages will jump together into tree structures that can be expanded or collapsed with the ▹ arrow next to the subject.

If threaded view doesn't suit you, you can disable it by following the above steps and selecting Unthreaded in the Sort by menu.

Managing threads

  • To perform an action for all messages in a thread - for example delete, archive or tag them - select a collapsed thread and click the respective button. You can still perform actions for individual messages by expanding the thread and selecting the message.
  • If a conversation on a mailing list doesn't interest you, you can ignore it. Ignoring will hide (but not delete) a thread from your list of messages, and disable new mail notifications for new replies. To ignore a thread or a subthread, see Ignoring threads.

Other ways of threading conversations

Would you like to put conversations together in a different manner? Perhaps like Gmail does, linearly and with your messages included? Try the Thunderbird Conversations extension or search the Thunderbird Add-ons site to find an extension that suits you.

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