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I'm stuck using my employer's Outlook 2007 system for work email and don't have the option to forward to my gmail account.

The only thing I really miss alot from gmail is the threaded conversations which allow me to easily see what I have sent as replies and follow the entire string of emails easily.

I have seen suggestions of using adding the conversation column in outlook, but if you sort by conversation then the most recent emails are not at the top, and additionally you still do not see emails you have sent because they are in the seperate sent folder.

Any ideas on how I can get more thread like organization of my emails in outlook?

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10 Answers 10

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm not sure if it helps, but Outlook 2010 has a conversation-based view that includes sent messages.

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Upgrading is out of my control but yeh I am hoping they will upgrade eventually. – AaronLS Mar 31 '10 at 19:41
With 2007 and earlier, you can create a Search Folder and include your Inbox and Sent folders in the search. Create the view as suggested and apply it to this Search Folder you created. This search folder becomes your "Inbox" of sorts. – lagsalot Jun 6 '13 at 17:24
-1: The link died. – Cees Timmerman Apr 21 '15 at 7:58

I use these steps (from a post on the More Productive Now blog):

  1. Switch to your Inbox.

  2. In Outlook 2007: From the main Outlook View menu, select Current View > Define Views.

In Outlook 2003: From the main Outlook View menu, select Arrange By > Current View > Define Views.

  1. In the list of views, select the “Messages” line, then click the Copy button. In the resulting window, type “Messages By Conversation” for the name of the new view. Select the This folder, visible to everyone option. Click OK to close this window.

  2. In the Customize window that’s now displayed, click the Group By button. Uncheck Automatically group according to arrangement. Set the Group items by drop-down list to Conversation. (Leave the option button set to Ascending.) Click OK to close this window.

  3. Click the Sort button. Change the Sort items by drop-down value to Conversation Index. Change the option button to Descending. Click OK to close this window.

  4. Click OK to close the Customize View window.

  5. Click the Apply View button, and you’ll see your new view in action!

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Outlook 2007 doesn't support this natively. If you can't upgrade, you could see if you're able to install an addin like Xobni, which has this type of functionality.

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My solution to make Outlook 2003 more Gmail-like was a macro which moves all the items I send into my inbox. Then the conversation view contains the whole picture. I haven't tested the macro in Outlook 2007 but it is working for me in Outlook 2010.

Add the following code to your ThisOutlookSession using Visual Basic Editor.

Private SentMailFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder
Private InboxFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder

Private WithEvents SentMailItems As Outlook.Items

Public Sub Application_Startup()
    Set InboxFolder = Outlook.Session.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
    Set SentMailFolder = Outlook.Session.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderSentMail)
    Set SentMailItems = SentMailFolder.Items

End Sub

Private Sub SentMailItems_ItemAdd(ByVal item As Object)
    MoveSentItemToInbox item
End Sub

Private Sub MoveItemsOnStartup()
    While SentMailFolder.Items.Count > 0
        MoveSentItemToInbox SentMailFolder.Items(1)
End Sub

Private Sub MoveSentItemToInbox(sentItem As Object)
    Dim shouldSave As Boolean

    shouldSave = True
    Select Case sentItem.MessageClass
        Case "IPM.Schedule.Meeting.Resp.Pos"
            shouldSave = False
        Case "IPM.Schedule.Meeting.Resp.Neg"
            shouldSave = False
        Case "IPM.Schedule.Meeting.Resp.Tent"
            shouldSave = False
    End Select

    If shouldSave = True Then
        sentItem.Move InboxFolder
    End If

End Sub
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That may be useful, but it´s difficult for most users. Here is a simpler solution to have your sent mails in the conversation:

Creating Gmail-like conversations with Outlook - Aspi's Drift

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Can you please include the most important steps here? – slhck Apr 12 '12 at 17:48

Go to View → Arrange By → Conversations.

It will sort messages very much like in Gmail. You may use custom sorting by using the respective column headers.

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Thanks for the edit @slhck. – Nirav Zaveri Apr 28 '13 at 18:23

Here's simpler solution.

Go to View>Current View (and select 'Messages').

Go back to View>Arrange By (and select 'Conversation')

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The top 2 votes didn't work for me - the mails in "sent" folder did not come out.

It was lagsalot's comment (reproduced here, and thanks lagsalot!) that works for me.

With 2007 and earlier, you can create a Search Folder and include your Inbox and Sent folders in the search. Create the view as suggested and apply it to this Search Folder you created. This search folder becomes your "Inbox" of sorts. – lagsalot Jun 6 at 17:24

A few more details to add to lagsalot's comment: A few things to add though:

  1. To create a search folder, look in the middler left column of outlook, there should be a "Mailbox ..." list view, expand it and at the bottom there should be a "Search Folders" line item. Right-click that and select "New search folder".
  2. Next choose "Custom", then "OK".

  3. For my Outlook 2007, there is already a view by "Converstaion" option which I then apply to this search folder.

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I worked on showing a relative time for outlook. I'll update it to show the same info at gmail's relative time stamps completely one day. Right now it is pretty good:

Relative Date Time in Outlook and Excel (minutes ago, hours ago, days ago), like Gmail

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The web based Outlook web app has been my answer to having to use Outlook at work.

It doesn't have every function, but it beats Outlook.

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Please explain the steps to using the web app so that it gives a conversation view. – Kevin Panko Sep 16 '14 at 14:16

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