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How to Merge Email Threads in Mozilla Thunderbird

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Sometimes it happens that you are exchanging emails with someone about one topic and that person, instead of replying to your last email, shoots off a new email. The result is that there are now two parallel threads going on which can (and almost certainly will) become confusing. Here is how to merge email threads in a few clicks.

First, locate the two threads in your email inbox you want to merge.

Mozilla Thunderbird Inbox

Mozilla Thunderbird Inbox

Select the new email thread — the one you wish to merge with the older, longer thread, and click Reply.

New email thread

New email thread

Now open the old email thread and select its content using the Ctrl+A / Ctrl+C keyboard shortcuts.

Old email thread

Old email thread

Return to the new email thread window and press Shift+Enter at the location where you want to insert the other threads content. Using Shift will not interrupt the vertical quotation line(s) on the left of the messages.

Then right-click within the window at that location and select Paste As Quotation from the drop-down menu.

Mozilla Thunderbird — Paste As Quotation

Mozilla Thunderbird — Paste As Quotation

Also, remove any duplicate content from the merged email thread.

Select and remove duplicate content

Select and remove duplicate content

Here is the result of the two merged email threads:

Merged thread

Merged thread

Now you can reply and keep the whole discussion in one email back and forth. Useful, I believe.

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Comments 4

  1. When I saw a tweet about this post I was highly surprised – and was disappointed when I read the article.

    Really joining mail threads is different from what you describe here. What you describe is just inserting something else as a quote into another mail.

    My usual problem is more that a discussion thread, e.g. in mailing lists is interrupted because someone didn’t properly respond to the previous mail and therefore the in-response-to (?) header of the answer is missing.

    As a result the thread is disconnected in Thunderbirds threaded view as the response starts as a new thread root. Fixing THAT is what I search for since years, but was not able to find yet.

    Any hints welcome.

    1. Peter Post
      Author

      Well, I think that what I described IS merging two email threads. I have been using this technique for years.

      Play around with my solution a bit and you’ll find that there is more to it than a simple copy-paste process. You can easily merge several threads, however long and the resulting thread will look as if it was one long uninterrupted conversation.

      1. What you suggest composes a single new mail that contains the whole threads text in a proper quoted form – that’s right. But I don’t want to full quote something, I don’t even want to write an additional mail. I want to use the thunderbird View/Sort/Group by Thread feature to properly group the mails of a broken thread properly. For that your post unfortunately is not a solution.

        With your proposal I can join whatever I want in any arbitrary order and nesting – but I want to say “this one mail in fact was a response to that other one”, linking the thread together again; quite a different (and as far as I know missing) feature.

        1. Peter Post
          Author

          Yes, what you are describing is a bit different than what I was dealing with in this post.

          What you are trying to accomplish is a feature that was first requested of Mozilla Thunderbird ages ago (early 2000) but was never implemented. The workaround is to manipulate the In-Reply-To email header.

          I will test a few available solutions and will publish a post on this topic in a few days.

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