Do you ever find yourself in a situation where email conversations in Gmail become long and confusing? Maybe the conversation jumps from one topic to another, or new information arises, making the original subject irrelevant. Well, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are ways to change the subject line of your email and bring clarity and direction to your thread.
In this article, we’ll explore two different methods to update the subject line in Gmail. Each method has its own benefits and outcomes. We’ll also discuss why a compelling subject line is essential for effective email communication and how Gmail’s conversation view works. Let’s get started!
Why is an email subject line important?
An email subject line serves as the headline of your email and is the first thing recipients see in their inboxes. Although many people overlook the importance of subject lines, they play a crucial role in increasing open rates and engagement. Here’s why you should make the most out of Gmail’s subject line feature:
1. Increase open and reply rate
Did you know that 47% of email recipients open an email based on its subject line? If you want to improve your email’s chances of being read and receiving a response, create an interesting and engaging subject line.
2. Organize your Gmail inbox
Gmail’s Label feature allows you to tag your emails and keep your inbox organized. By creating filters that look for specific words or phrases in subject lines, you can automatically label and sort your emails without the need to open each one. A clear subject line enables you to utilize Gmail’s Labels effectively, saving you time and making your organization process more efficient.
3. Save time for recipients
We’ve all been too busy to read an entire email thoroughly. A clear subject line enables recipients to quickly grasp the essential information without spending too much time in their inboxes. These kinds of subject lines are especially helpful for busy individuals.
How Gmail uses subject lines to create a conversation view
Before we dive into the methods of changing subject lines in Gmail, let’s understand how Gmail’s conversation view works. Gmail groups individual emails chronologically based on their subject lines to create a conversation view. This feature allows you to click on a subject line and view all the emails sent and received in response to that particular topic. Without conversation view, your inbox would be cluttered with separate emails, making it challenging to follow conversations.
Why does this matter? When you change the subject line of an email, it affects the conversation view. Modifying the subject line creates a new conversation or email thread. In the following sections, we’ll explain two methods to change subject lines, each with its own approach and outcome.
Why change the subject line in Gmail?
You might be wondering if it’s better to leave the subject line untouched to indicate that your message continues an existing email chain. While that may be true, there are valid reasons to change the subject line:
1. Alert recipients to important new information
If you have an attachment that everyone needs to see or an update that alters the course of the conversation, changing the subject line can effectively communicate these changes. For example, you could modify the subject line from “Meeting Notes for February” to “UPDATE: Schedule Attached – Meeting Notes for February” to make the thread more coherent and easier to follow.
2. Correcting errors
Sometimes, an email thread contains incorrect information. Changing the subject line allows you to share the correct details with everyone involved. For instance, if the original subject line stated “Photo Shoot Friday” but the photo shoot is actually scheduled for Thursday, updating the subject line ensures that everyone is aware of the correct timing.
3. Managing tangents
Email discussions often veer off-topic, making it challenging to maintain organization. To address this, you can split the email conversation into separate threads, each focusing on a specific topic. By changing the subject line of the new thread to reflect the new topic, you can keep the conversation organized and easy to follow.
4. Involvement of multiple teams or processes
In situations where different teams or processes are involved in an email thread, it’s beneficial to separate the conversation into distinct threads. This allows each team to focus on their respective tasks. By changing the subject line of the new thread to be specific to the issue at hand, such as “Password Reset Help,” you can clearly communicate the purpose of each thread.
5. Enhanced searchability
Generic subject lines like “Pics” can cause difficulties when you need to access information or refer to a thread in the future. Changing the subject line to something like “Screenshots of New Feature Launch from October ’22” makes it easier to find the thread through a search.
Gmail’s Edit Subject Line Feature
Gmail offers a simple way to change the subject line of an existing email thread while you respond to the thread. When you do this, Gmail creates a duplicate thread with your response and the new subject line. Here’s how you can change the subject line in Gmail and create a duplicate thread:
- Open the email or email thread in your Gmail inbox.
- Click on the “Reply” button at the bottom or top-left of the email thread.
- In the reply compose window, click on the “Reply” arrow with the drop-down option next to it.
- Click on “Edit subject” in the drop-down menu.
- In the compose window, edit the subject line as needed.
- Click “Send.”
- Optional: Consider archiving the original email thread if you don’t plan to continue using it to avoid confusion.
It’s important to note that in this process, all the emails sent prior to editing the subject line will appear in both the original and duplicate threads. However, your response will only appear in the new thread.
Use Streak to Separate Emails and Change the Subject Line
Streak offers another option to edit subject lines in Gmail using their thread splitter tool, which is available as a free browser extension. This tool allows you to select specific emails from a thread and separate them into a new email thread with a new subject line. This is particularly useful when multiple topics, teams, or processes are involved in a single thread, resulting in parallel conversations.
To use Streak’s thread splitter tool:
- Open the email conversation in your Gmail inbox.
- Click the three-dot “More” menu at the top of the email.
- Select “Split Thread.”
- Choose the message(s) you want to separate from the conversation.
- Click “Move Messages to New Thread.”
- Enter a subject line for the new email thread and click “Done.”
Please note that this action cannot be undone. Once you’ve separated the emails, you’ll find the new email thread with the subject line you entered in your inbox.
Two methods to change the subject line in Gmail
Both editing the subject line in Gmail and using Streak’s thread splitter tool provide free and straightforward ways to change the subject line of an existing conversation. So how do you choose which method to use?
As a general guideline:
- Use Gmail’s “edit subject line” option to keep all the existing messages in the email thread but update the subject line moving forward.
- Use Streak’s thread splitter tool to separate some emails into a new thread with a new subject line.
Changing the subject line is a useful tool in your inbox organization arsenal. For more tips and tools, check out how you can add emails to pipelines in Gmail, track views on your sent emails, and more.