Google Offers Gmail Users More Control Over Inboxes

Google Inc. is addressing one of the main complaints about its free e-mail service by giving people more control over how their inboxes are organized.

The new selection announced will allow Gmail users to choose whether they prefer their incoming messages stacked in sequential order, instead of having them threaded together as part of the same electronic conversation.

Gmail has been mechanically grouping messages by topic or senders since Google rolled out the service six years ago.

But this so-called "conversation view" confused or aggravated many Gmail users who had grown accustomed to seeing all their latest messages at the top of the inbox followed by the older correspondence. After all, that's how the majority other e-mail programs work.

The complaints grew loud enough to influence Google to revise the Gmail settings so users can turn off discussion view and unravel their messages.

"We really hoped everyone would learn to love chat view, but we came to understand that it's just not right for some people," Google software engineer Doug Chen wrote in a blog post.

The aversion to conversation view doesn't seem to be extensive. Gmail ended July with nearly 186 million worldwide users, a 22 percent augment from the same time a year ago, according to the research firm comScore Inc. Both Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail (nearly 346 million users) and Yahoo's e-mail (303 million users) are larger, but aren't growing almost as quickly as Gmail. Bookmark and Share