How to mute endless Gmail threads so you're not stuck in a 'reply all' hell

TACstock1/ShutterstockGetting thousands of unwanted emails is a waking nightmare.
  • “Reply all” messages can become a nuisance, especially if you’re trying to get work done and the messages have nothing to do with you.
  • To hide notifications from ever-growing email threads, Gmail users can go to a drop-down menu above the thread and click “Mute.”
  • Whatever you do, don’t ask to be removed from the thread via “reply all.” Otherwise, you’ll be trapped in an email hellscape like employees at Microsoft or NHS.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you’ve ever been roped into a massive email thread, you know how exasperating “reply all” messages can be, especially when they have nothing to do with you. As soon as you click on a new message in the thread, three more come in.

Thankfully, Gmail has a quick fix for that: the “Mute” button.

Here’s how you find it.


To find the “Mute” button, go to the email thread you want hidden.

Ivan De Luce/Business Insider

Find the dropdown menu above the thread and all the way to the right.

Ivan De Luce/Business Insider

Once you click “Mute,” the thread will be archived, but no longer visible in your inbox.

Ivan De Luce/Business Insider

If you have a change of heart and need it again, it’s still searchable.

Ivan De Luce/Business Insider

Another way to get out of an email thread is simply to ask to be removed.

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“It sucks when you’re stuck on an email thread of declining relevance,” writes office culture expert Jocelyn K. Glei in “Unsubscribe: How to kill email anxiety, avoid distractions, and get real work done.”

Glei offers a graceful way of escaping a thread by saying this: “Looks like you guys have taken the reins on this conversation! Would you mind moving me to ‘bcc’ so that I can bow out?”

If the chain isn’t work-related, however, Glei gives a more personal example to keep things amiable: “Sean – Would you mind moving me to ‘bcc’ when you respond? I’m waging war on inbox clutter this week. ;)”


Whatever you do, don’t ask to be removed from an email thread via “reply all.”

You may end up in a hellish echo chamber with a million people asking to be let out, like NHS employees were in 2016. The UK health service’s 1.2 million employees received a “test” email, which caused some of them to hit “reply all,” asking to be taken off the recipient list. Since a single email in the thread reaches 1.2 million accounts, NHS’s servers slowed down considerably when dozens of annoyed employees sent a collective 140 million emails.

The same thing happened to 11,543 Microsoft employees last January, when an employee reportedly sent out a message to the entire company explaining how to change their GitHub accounts to get fewer notifications.

The irony was not lost on employees, one of whom described the fiasco as a “reply allpocalypse.” The moral of the story: don’t, under any circumstances, hit “reply all” to thousands of people.

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