Weird Question: Email Threads-Most Current Message at Bottom or Top?

For whatever reason, out of the blue it occurred to me that threads in this forum place the most recent post at the bottom of the thread. This is how Gmail works as well. Yet, I have always set my default in Apple Mail for the newest message to be at the top of the conversation thread.

I’m curious, what is your preference for emails; the most current message at the top or the bottom of the conversation and why that preference?

Newest at the top. But I’m an inbox zero kinda guy so it barely matters.

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I’m pretty close to inbox zero most weeks. Normally 3-4 in the inbox at a time, sometimes up to 10.

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I didn’t even really think about this till just now. I’ve got it set to most recent at bottom, but I think I might switch it and see how that goes for a while.

Sounds like the “big issue” debate about top or bottom in email held in the 1980’s when people got all worked up about it. Waste of time then.

It seems now decades later, as 2022 ends, new entries at top has won and I support that. Mainly because I do not want to waste time wading down the through the old stuff. Nor do I expect others to waste their time.

That being said, I rarely these days reply with any trailing thread items. I snip then all out with a message at bottom “[snipped remaining thread items]”

I quote relevant bits of text if required (not unlike here).


  • sometimes there is information or email in the thread not written by me and could be sensitive or embarrassing to others if inadvertently released.

  • i did not write all the items in the thread so why do I include in something I did not write?

  • full threads probably not read anyway.

  • i assume most email apps can display emails “by conversation” or some other descriptive word. so why is it necessary? and if someone has an email app that does not have the option to display by conversation, then threaded email not important to them anyway.

  • snipping cuts down on bloat

  • some people dig out old emails from someone to initiate a brand new topic unrelated to the topic of the email they hijacked to get the “to” and “cc” addresses. Very bad form.

Probably more reasons but that’s all I can think of right now.

Newest Mail at the Top!
The difference to this forum, from my observation, is that this forum remembers your last read post, and shows you the next one, the next time your jump into a Thread.

If you look at the Mainpage, the order is the same, as with Mails (normally), with the newest on Top, and the older vanishing at the bottom.

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A thread is a conversation so it makes sense to read it in the order it occurred. As far as email, before it was digital I read mail as it was received. I still do.

Newest first.

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The primary reason I don’t like using Outlook mail on iOS. I’m a new mail at the top kinda guy, and they insist on jamming everything along the bottom.

Newest at the bottom. If I see there are a lot of emails in the thread, I will often go to the bottom first, but my threads are usually not that long, so I’d rather read in chronological order because that is what makes sense.

Newest on top.

And I am trying to keep my inbox clean: not more than 10 items are sitting there usually. And nothing longer than a day or a week.

P.S. It still boggles my mind to see how much emails can be deleted without doing anything further with them…

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It stresses and perplexes me when I see someone’s inbox with hundreds, even thousands, of emails in it even though it does not directly involve me. :man_shrugging:


I’ve known people like that, with thousands of unread messages. When I ask why don’t you delete those? They answer “some might be important”.

I’m a big fan of server side rules. It’s rare when something that doesn’t need my attention lands in my inbox. So I take care of those and look at everything else later.


Likewise, I have a lot of server side rules and filters. I’ve done this long enough that I don’t get a lot of spam landing in my inbox.

I may be the odd man (woman) out here, but I’m anti-conversation threading however you sort them. I have it turned off in Gmail and in Mac Mail.

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I work in a large corporation that uses Outlook on the desktop. The default from Microsoft is that newest message is on the top and nobody actually wants to learn anything about computer software, so that is what we all use. I have gotten used to it, but I suspect it contributes to the problem I see where lots of people’s replies are out of context because they finished the first message on the top and then stopped without reading further down to see the context.

Newest at bottom, so that I deal with the old stuff first.

For emails overall, I prefer oldest at the top as I generally deal with them oldest to newest. As for the individual email thread, I prefer newest reply on top. I deal with a pretty high volume of emails, and more often than not I don’t need to read the entire thread to reply. I don’t want to waste any more time in email that I have to. If I need to go further down the thread for more background/context, it’s there.

I will add it may also depend where the email comes from. For example, my direct reports and others in my department are all aware that if you CC me, I have a rule that puts them in a low priority folder. CC = informational. You don’t need action from me, you’re keeping me in the loop and I’ll get to it when I get to it. They also know to just give me the BLUF (bottom line up front) if they need something. If I need more detail, I’ll read down the thread or ask for more info. That may sound a little harsh, but as a team we’ve had open discussions on how we all like to be communicated with.

Now if my CEO or external stakeholder emails me, I may very well read the entire thread so I’m getting the full context. It just depends, but having the newest reply on top saves me some scrolling and reading until I decide I need to.

Each to their own, but I find it so useful to just go to the latest email in the thread and work my way back ways through them. I can then quickly tell if anything is waiting on me or not.

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