As you know, by default, Gmail stacks all messages that are part of the same subject thread into a single conversation that appears as a single entry in your Inbox. So what happens to your Inbox display when new replies arrive to one of your conversations? Can you tell when there's something new to look at? You sure can, and here's how!
See participants at a glance
From your Inbox, you can see the names of participants in the conversation along with the number of messages in the thread. If there are too many names to list, you'll see the original sender along with the last few people who replied. If you send a reply, you'll see yourself listed as me.
In this example, Kevin, Kathy, and Jennifer are all participating in a conversation that has 4 messages.
New replies pop to the top!
When someone sends a new reply, Gmail sorts the conversation to the top of your Inbox. That way, you're sure to see that there's a new message! In addition, the new sender's name is highlighted in black, indicating that you haven't yet read his message. Here, we see that Ben has posted a new reply.
The same is true even if you archive a conversation or move it to another folder. Whenever someone sends a new reply, the message pops back up to the top of your Inbox.
Mute conversations to make them go away for good
If you're subscribed to a mailing list, you've no doubt encounterd the 'conversation that just won't go away!' If you're part of a long, onging conversation that isn't relevant to you anymore, you can mute the conversation to prevent it from reappearing in your Inbox.
There a couple of ways to mute a conversation. You can either select the conversation and choose Mute from the More menu, as shown below. Or if you've enabled keyboard shortcuts, just select the message and press "M" on your keyboard! What could be easier?
After you mute a conversation, it's removed from your Inbox and archived. That means you can still see the conversation in the All Mail label, where you'll notice it has a new Muted label.
To unmute a conversation, simply select the conversation and click Move to Inbox.
It's important to note that a muted conversation can stil reappear in your Inbox if your email address is entered into the "To" or "CC" field. But that's good, right? If someone enters your address specifically, they probably really want your input. Gmail therefore pops the conversation back into your Inbox to let you know you should take another look.