How to See New Emails on Top of Gmail Conversation Threads

Gmail on MacBook, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch

Gmail’s conversation view was groundbreaking when it came out 15 years ago, but it always shows new messages at the bottom of the conversation instead of at the top. that’s annoying for some long-time email users. here’s how to change that.

there is no easy option to change this

Unfortunately, gmail itself doesn’t offer an easy one-click option that puts all new messages at the top of a conversation thread. Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail show new messages at the top of a conversation thread by default, but offer an option to put those messages at the bottom. we wish gmail would do the same.

But even though gmail doesn’t make it as easy as we’d like, there are still ways to see new emails at the top of gmail.

option one: disable conversation view

If you don’t like using Conversation View, the easiest solution is to turn it off. if you do this, each email will appear individually instead of together in a conversation thread. this is the only built-in option to see new mail at the top of your inbox.

To disable conversation view in gmail, click the cogwheel at the top right of the gmail website and then click “settings”.

The Settings option in Gmail

In the general tab that opens, scroll down to the chat view option, and then select “chat view off”.

The Conversation View setting in Gmail

scroll down to the bottom of the page and then click “save changes”.

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saving your changes

if you are comfortable with the result, then your problem is solved. but, if you don’t like seeing each new email as its own message, there are other things you can try.

option two: use a browser extension

If you don’t want to turn off conversation view, you can install a browser extension that will change the appearance of gmail in your browser, showing new emails at the top. many people recommend gmail reverse chat which is available for both chrome and firefox.

We like this extension because it works, but also because it has a publicly readable repository on github where you can browse the source code of the browser extension. before installing it, threaded messages will show the most recent message at the bottom as standard.

The default threading with the new mail at the bottom

after installing the extension, the most recent message appears at the top. as a bonus, the reply and forward options are now at the top as well.

however, this will only work in web browsers where you have installed the extension. it will not apply to the gmail mobile app.

The amended threading with the new mail at the top

This extension works by modifying gmail’s Cascading Style Sheets (css) code. If you’re the type of person who prefers to edit their own CSS whenever possible, you can use the CSS that the Gmail Reverse Conversation Extension uses. which can be found in their github repository. you can use this css because the developer in question “tomasz” kindly licensed his extension using a mit license which allows people to use his components for free.

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option three: use a desktop client like outlook or apple mail

If you want to turn on conversation view and you can’t install an extension or edit the css, your final option is to stop using the gmail interface and start using a different mail client instead. both outlook and apple mail will display conversation views with the most recent at the top, so if you access your gmail account through one of these clients, you can get that elusive functionality.

We showed you how to access a gmail account through microsoft outlook and apple mail before, so follow those instructions to set it up yourself. In outlook, you can make sure new emails are at the top by sorting emails by received date. in apple mail, go to mail > preferences > viewing and changing “show most recent message on top”.

Unfortunately, no popular mobile email apps, such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail on iPhone, and Google’s own Gmail app, have this option built in. there may be some lesser known email apps with this feature, but we don’t have it. I found some acquaintances that we can recommend.

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