Paul Wherly

Conversations in Outlook – what are they?

Are you using Conversations in Outlook?

We all engage in conversations in one way or another. A conversation being an exchange of ideas or information or just chat between two or more people.

You may have noticed that your emails are arranged as conversations. That is they are grouped by email then reply, then the reply to the reply etc.

Before we go ahead and see how to either switch this functionality on or off, it would be a good idea to find out some more definitions of Conversation.

I went to the Thesaurus in Microsoft Word and this is what I was offered as explanations for the word Conversation.

  • Chat
  • Talk
  • Discussion
  • Téte-a-téte
  • Dialog
  • Dialogue
  • Exchange
  • Banter
  • Natter
  • Colloquy

I sat down and had a think about what each of those definitions means to me.

Chat – well this to me is an informal exchange of general news and views between people

Talk – this to me sounds more one sided, one person talking at another or at an audience, talk being delivered.

Discussion – an exchange of views between any number of individuals

Téte-a-téte  – an intimate conversation usually between two people

Dialogue – a conversation between people

Exchange – well an exchange of views or conversation

Banter – conversation that is jokey

Natter –  a really informal conversation

Colloquy – a more formal discussion between many people at a conference or symposium

Well I have to say that I did learn something from looking this up, I found out the definition of a Colloquy which I was not 100% sure about. I do love learning new things, don’t you?

Now we know what Conversations are – are you using them in Outlook?

What exactly do I mean? Well a conversation is an exchange of views or news back and forth between one or more people. So in the context of email I send Bob an email and Bob replies to me. I then send Bob another email in response to his reply and so on.

Now wouldn’t it be handy to see all of these emails that belong to one conversation grouped together? Yes – you are right – yes was the answer I was looking for. So what does this look like in Outlook?

Here is a collapsed conversation



Note the triangle next to Helen’s name. It shows me that there are other emails that go with this one.

Here is the expanded conversation

Expanded Conversation

You can see each email in the conversation thread starting at the bottom with the first email from Helen, then my reply, then Helen’s response and my final reply.

Having email arranged this way keeps the inbox a little tidier as you don’t need to see all the emails and can just focus on the latest one.



Arrange your email as a conversation

Follow these stepsConversation settings

  1. Right click at the top of the email list in the inbox (or the folder you wish to arrange)
  2. Select Arrange by Date (conversation)
  3. Make sure that Show in groups and Show as Conversation are both ticked


Now that you have done all of that your inbox will be looking a lot tidier. One of the extra benefits is that if you want to move some email to a different folder, when you move a conversation the whole lot  goes. Result!



Do you have your email arranged as Conversations? Do you like it? What do you think? Please do get in touch and let me know  I love to hear from my readers.

Till next time

Shelley Fishel


We would love to come in to your organisation and help you get the most out of Outlook. Why not take a look at our half day End Your Outlook Overwhelm course? You will find many more tips and tricks in this course. Give us a call to discuss on 020 8203 1774.




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