Q: I get loads of e-mails, and while I appreciate your suggestions, I’m just a low-tech guy and would like to remain low-tech—if you get my meaning. So, is there some easy way to bring more order to my inflow of e-mails without making my life more complicated by loading third-party software?
A: Yes, I get your meaning, and I’ll refrain from lecturing you about the cost of falling behind the technology curve. There is a very low-tech way to do what you want in Outlook 2003 and 2007. It’s a technique that conveniently arranges your incoming mail, and it’s a snap (make that a click or two) to set up and use.
While you’re in Outlook 2003’s or 2007’s Mail screen, click the View icon at the top of the page, and then Arrange By just below it. Now press Conversation (see screenshot below).
You’ll immediately notice that your lineup of new mail, which probably had been defaulted to place the latest messages first and the older ones below it, now reorders the messages so they appear conversation-oriented, or in what’s called a “threaded” view, with e-mails related by subject.
The Conversation view displays only unread and Quick Flagged messages at first. However, you can expand each conversation further to show all messages in the conversation, including messages you have already read.
What’s neat about this arrangement is that, if it doesn’t meet your needs, you can easily switch back to the Date arrangement with just a click.
If you’re willing to try something a little more advanced, see my September 2009 column, “Make Outlook Serve You Better,” page 82.