Gmail: Conversations vs. Messages
Gmail normally groups all messages that are part of the same subject thread into a single conversation. You click the conversation in your Inbox to open the stack of messages. The original and oldest message is at the top of the stack (1), the newest message is at the bottom (2), and any other messages in the thread are stacked chronologically in between (3).
As with any mail system, you can reply, forward, print, or delete individual messages. In addition, you can also perform some handy actions on the entire stack. Here’s a look at some of the things you can do.
Working with the entire conversation
Click buttons above the conversation stack to perform actions on the entire stack:
Click the Archive button to remove the entire conversation from your Inbox. It remains in your archive, also know as All Mail. When archived, the conversation is still available and searchable.
Click the Trash button to move the entire conversation to the Trash. By default, after 30 days, the conversation is deleted forever.
Click a small icon at the top-right of the stack to expand/collapse all messages in the conversation, print the entire conversation, or open the conversation in a new window.
Open the More menu and click Forward all to forward the entire conversation to someone else. This combines all the conversation’s messages into a single email for you to forward.
Working with an individual message
To open any message in the conversation stack and view its contents, just click it in the stack. Click again to collapse the message when you’re done with it. While the message is open, you can open a menu inside the message to perform actions on just that message. Here you can reply to the sender (Reply) or all recipients (Reply to all) of just that message. You can forward or print just that message. You can delete just that message from the conversation stack, and more.
Note that when you reply to a message, your reply goes only to the sender or recipients of that message. It doesn’t go to everyone else in the conversation.