Google to Let Apps Admins Disable 'Conversation' Mode

Google Apps users will be able to turn off a Gmail feature whose value has been a point of contention for years: the "conversation" view that consolidates e-mail threads in a single inbox entry.

Starting Wednesday, Google will give users of the Apps collaboration and communications suite the option of switching from conversation mode to the traditional inbox view in which each e-mail message is listed separately.

The decision is an acknowledgement by Google that, despite using Gmail for years, some users dislike the conversation view, which the company believes offers an advantage for organizing long threads of e-mail responses.

In the coming days, Google will roll out to Apps users the option of toggling between the conversation and traditional inbox views. Apps administrators must have enabled the option to access "pre-release features" for their workplace domains.

In addition to Google Apps users, individuals who use the stand-alone Gmail service will also get the option to turn off the conversation mode, according to Google.

This isn't the only Gmail feature whose usefulness has been a source of debate. For example, unlike most other e-mail applications, Gmail doesn't use folders for grouping messages of similar topics.

Instead, Gmail has labels, which can be used to apply one or more topical tags to messages. While stopping short of introducing folders, Google last year made labels work more like folders, in order to promote the use of labels among Gmail's user base.

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