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Why are my emails acting threaded even though my sort is set to unthreaded?

  • 3 replies
  • 2 have this problem
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  • Last reply by Matt

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My View> Sort By> is set to Unthreaded, yet when I mark an email as "Read" it randomly marks other emails as read that I have not actually read yet. No I do not have any addons for filtering conversations. Yes I have read this Q&A https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/989629?esab=a&as=aaq The answer that said that even though the right click drop down menu Mark> As Read option shows the 'R' underlined, indicating to use 'R' to mark a single message as read, 'R' will mark the entire thread as read. My question is, how can it mark 'a thread' as red when a thread doesn't exist since the sort by view is set as unthreaded? I was grateful for the suggestion to use 'M' to toggle between Read & Unread status on a single message, as this DOES work to mark only one message as read! However in every other way my messages are still being treated like they are threaded even though I have set the view> sort by> as Unthreaded. Is there ANY other way to turn threading off besides the View> Sort By options? Or at least change the way Thunderbird assembles conversation threads?

My View> Sort By> is set to Unthreaded, yet when I mark an email as "Read" it randomly marks other emails as read that I have not actually read yet. No I do not have any addons for filtering conversations. Yes I have read this Q&A https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/989629?esab=a&as=aaq The answer that said that even though the right click drop down menu Mark> As Read option shows the 'R' underlined, indicating to use 'R' to mark a single message as read, 'R' will mark the entire thread as read. My question is, how can it mark 'a thread' as red when a thread doesn't exist since the sort by view is set as unthreaded? I was grateful for the suggestion to use 'M' to toggle between Read & Unread status on a single message, as this DOES work to mark only one message as read! However in every other way my messages are still being treated like they are threaded even though I have set the view> sort by> as Unthreaded. Is there ANY other way to turn threading off besides the View> Sort By options? Or at least change the way Thunderbird assembles conversation threads?

Chosen solution

see here http://kb.mozillazine.org/Stop_threading_by_subject and https://wiki.mozilla.org/MailNews:Message_Threading

I think that should cover the basics as well as some of the detail.

When an email is created it is given a reference by it's creator, be that Thunderbird, or Gmail or Outlook. That reference is supposed to be globally unique value, or close to. Most things these days use GUIDs but mail really precedes that concept, so older mail just requires a reference. Gmail put references that look like this in my mail

Message-ID: < 532D2039.9020709@gmail.com >

It is this reference that is the basis of threading. That and when I click to reply or forward, another header is added

References: <532EGBE8.2070604@comcast.net> <532F5B96.9000702@gmail.com>

In this example there are two previous email listed in references.

When Thunderbird Threads this mail, it takes all three values and looks in the mailbox for other mail with those three entries, because they a related a the first is the message that was sent and the next two are replied and further returned replies.

Now we get to the truly unfortunate part of the process. Most web developers know squat about email; The same can be said of most general developers as well, but they keep getting specifications for the programs to send mail and they do it appallingly badly. Often they copy a very poorly written bit of JavaScript and stick it into a web page and tick the email box. Even worse is the weekend hacker who develops a nice web page for the local butcher, hairdresser (fill in business here) and just copies all sorts of poorly written but functional JavaScript into the pot.

So exactly why these mails would be threaded, I do not know, as Subject is a very minor consideration. You might shed some light by looking at the references and Message-id headers.

Do you have any add-ons installed?

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The thread exists, your just not seeing it, because your sort does not show threading. So as your marking threads as read and know that is not the way to do it.

A thread of mails all share common References: entries in the header or a common In-Reply-To: So basically you need to accept that threading is a part of emails.

Oh and if your threading is all messed up by emails that have nothing to do with the thread they are associated with it is people who think removing the visible parts of an email make it a new thread that are to blame.

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Thank you Matt, I guess I was hoping to find out if I could change the way Thunderbird sorts threads. For example, I have a few emails in my inbox, sorted as follows:

1 3/4/14 Re: Howelite Nurseries, Inc. 6-21537 Annual CCR Rich Lunar

2 3/4/14 Re: Howelite Nurseries, Inc. 6-21537 Annual CCR Rich Lunar


3 2/28/14 Re: Sleepy Water Co.,Inc. 5-21184 Annual CCR Rob Parks


4 3/11/14 Wine and Business Center - County Survey Jann Cavern


5 3/3/14 Re: QSI J. D. Sample Co. 6-31502 Annual CCR Ryan Creast

6 3/12/14 Re: Sleepy Water Co.,Inc. 5-21184 Annual CCR Rob Parks

7 3/13/14 Re: Acreage Water Co. 5-8892 Annual CCR Mary Sane


8 3/7/14 Mountainscape MHP 5-1164 Annual CCR Steve Jstone

9 3/10/14 QSI Waterfall Lakes 3-552439 Annual CCR Mich Nielsen

10 3/20/14 AB Nostra Water Company 9-4335 Annual CCR Dave Vanil

11 3/25/14 Howelite Nurseries, Inc. 6-21537 Annual CCR Rich Lunar

As you can see they are all separate companies having nothing to do with each other, mind you they have never been part of a group conversation or subscription or anything like that. An individual email was sent out by me to only one individual contact. In my inbox #1? are threaded together, email #3 stands alone, email #4 stands alone, emails #5, #6, #7 are threaded together, and emails #8, #9, #!0, #11 are threaded together.

At first I thought the word "CCR" could be causing Thunderbird to think they belong together, however as can be seen above there are several threads and all but one subject line contains the word "CCR". Also notice that emails #1, #2, #11 all have the exact same subject line and sender, and clearly they are not sorted by date... so basically I'm having trouble understanding Thunderbird's logic for threading these emails the way they are.

I guess my question "What is Thunderbird's logic?" is a two part question; part 1.) Why is Thunderbird grouping these emails the way they are? and part 2.) Can I change way Thunderbird filters a thread? Say by sender perhaps or subject line?

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Chosen Solution

see here http://kb.mozillazine.org/Stop_threading_by_subject and https://wiki.mozilla.org/MailNews:Message_Threading

I think that should cover the basics as well as some of the detail.

When an email is created it is given a reference by it's creator, be that Thunderbird, or Gmail or Outlook. That reference is supposed to be globally unique value, or close to. Most things these days use GUIDs but mail really precedes that concept, so older mail just requires a reference. Gmail put references that look like this in my mail

Message-ID: < 532D2039.9020709@gmail.com >

It is this reference that is the basis of threading. That and when I click to reply or forward, another header is added

References: <532EGBE8.2070604@comcast.net> <532F5B96.9000702@gmail.com>

In this example there are two previous email listed in references.

When Thunderbird Threads this mail, it takes all three values and looks in the mailbox for other mail with those three entries, because they a related a the first is the message that was sent and the next two are replied and further returned replies.

Now we get to the truly unfortunate part of the process. Most web developers know squat about email; The same can be said of most general developers as well, but they keep getting specifications for the programs to send mail and they do it appallingly badly. Often they copy a very poorly written bit of JavaScript and stick it into a web page and tick the email box. Even worse is the weekend hacker who develops a nice web page for the local butcher, hairdresser (fill in business here) and just copies all sorts of poorly written but functional JavaScript into the pot.

So exactly why these mails would be threaded, I do not know, as Subject is a very minor consideration. You might shed some light by looking at the references and Message-id headers.

Do you have any add-ons installed?