We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
2,862 Tutorials

How to tame messy Gmail replies

Here's a great tip for keeping emails short by quoting only a snippet of text, not the entire thread.

Much as I love Gmail, I don't love how messy it can be. Messy interface, messy layout, and, sometimes, messy emails.

Specifically, after a few messages go back and forth between you and someone else (that's called a thread), you end up with a lengthy, cluttered, messy explosion of text.

This is true of pretty much any email client or service, of course, but in Gmail, at least, there's a way around it.

Instead of simply clicking Reply, which, by default, quotes the entire original email (and all subsequent replies) in your reply, do this:

In the sender's message, select the text you're actually replying to--the meat of the message, as it were--and then click Reply.

When Gmail creates that reply, it will include only that highlighted text, not the entire chain of messages. Translation: a lot less mess.

Now, there may be times when you prefer to keep the entire thread, especially when it's business correspondence and you need to refer to earlier conversation. But I think this is a great way to keep email shorter and sweeter, and to help the recipient see exactly what your reply pertains to.

Must give credit where it's due: I first read about this tip over at Gizmodo.

And speaking of Gmail conveniences, check out "Learn Gmail keyboard shortcuts with KeyRocket for Chrome."

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at [email protected], or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

IDG UK Sites

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review: A better deal than the Z3 and most smartphones

IDG UK Sites

Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8: new features are for power users, not the average Joe

IDG UK Sites

Framestore recreates ancient China for Mr Bean's martial arts misadventure

IDG UK Sites

iPad Air 2 review: Insanely fast and alarmingly thin. Speed tests, camera tests and more