December 01, 2012, 7:45 AM — Much as I love Gmail, I don't love how messy it can be. Messy interface, messy layout, and, sometimes, messy emails.
Specifically, after a few messages go back and forth between you and someone else (that's called a thread), you end up with a lengthy, cluttered, messy explosion of text.
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This is true of pretty much any email client or service, of course, but in Gmail, at least, there's a way around it.
Instead of simply clicking Reply, which, by default, quotes the entire original email (and all subsequent replies) in your reply, do this:
In the sender's message, select the text you're actually replying to--the meat of the message, as it were--and then click Reply.
When Gmail creates that reply, it will include only that highlighted text, not the entire chain of messages. Translation: a lot less mess.
Now, there may be times when you prefer to keep the entire thread, especially when it's business correspondence and you need to refer to earlier conversation. But I think this is a great way to keep email shorter and sweeter, and to help the recipient see exactly what your reply pertains to.
Must give credit where it's due: I first read about this tip over at Gizmodo.
And speaking of Gmail conveniences, check out "Learn Gmail keyboard shortcuts with KeyRocket for Chrome."
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at email@example.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.