Viewing Emails by Conversation in Outlook

I have been yearning for some time to have a gmail-like Conversation view in Outlook. Currently you can group by Conversation. However, this view will only allow you to group the emails in one folder (and if you can’t combine emails you have received with emails that you have sent, a conversation view is not worth much). However, by setting up a Search folder, you can get around this restriction:

  1. Set up a Custom Search Folder, set to include all messages that are in any of your mail folders (including Sent). You can get to this with File > New > Search Folder or Ctrl + Shift + P. There are also good instructions for this at HowToGeek.
  2. Click on the new Search Folder, and then go to View > Arrange By > Conversation.

That’s it. It works pretty well, though it does rely a bit too much on using the subject as the thread/conversation identifier (which is fine when you have a unique subject, but not fine for generic subjects). Hopefully this will be improved in 2010 (though as of now, initial reports are not good). Still, in many ways it is far superior to the regular inbox view (and unlike Gmail, you can still maintain a different grouping method in your inbox, and apply technologies like Sorting which for some reason are still beyond Gmail’s capabilities).

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