When some Yahoo alters your workflow

I’ve used Yahoo mail for about 12 years now, much of that as a paying customer (Yahoo plus is ad-free). I realize it is not as hip as Gmail — which I use as a secondary account — but I’ve found it to be perfectly functional. That’s why I’ve used it for my entire professional life.

Anyway, I hadn’t realized how much the Yahoo mail format was part of my workflow until Yahoo elected to “upgrade” the email program this past week to be more like Gmail. Which I don’t use — I’d point out — because I preferred the Yahoo version. And it is really screwing with my productivity.

For instance, I don’t like to see emails grouped as conversations. I like to see individual notes, which I can then delete or respond to or forward on their own merits. If I forward an email to someone, but then want to respond to the original, the conversation grouping makes this trickier. Indeed, Yahoo doesn’t seem to have the bugs out of this yet — how to make sure a whole conversation isn’t forwarded, including parts you sent to other people, if you reply to someone.

Another problem with conversations? Yahoo seems to be grouping anything with the same subject line as a conversation, even if it isn’t. When people post comments on my blog, I get an email with the comment. But now all comments on a post are part of a conversation. Multiple responses to an email blast are treated as a conversation, even though they’re really not. Those people aren’t talking to each other. They’re each replying to me individually. Before I could see that. Now I’m losing emails nestled in conversations.

I also deeply dislike that the new version of Yahoo doesn’t automatically show what you’ve responded to and not responded to. I don’t file emails; seeing the little response arrow indicates to me that I’ve dealt with the email. Now there’s no such thing. I have no idea why not. It doesn’t cost anything to put a few pixels next to an email. How am I supposed to remember that I’ve responded? I don’t always deal with email as soon as I’ve opened it because sometimes I have to think about it. I’ve emailed multiple people multiple times this week to be sure I’ve responded. This is not a productive way to spend my time.

I suppose I will adjust, because I don’t want to convert to Gmail. But if this is the result of Yahoo’s employees having their telecommuting arrangements curtailed, I think they should just go ahead and let people work from home again.

22 thoughts on “When some Yahoo alters your workflow

  1. Outlook allows you to choose if you want the old version vs. new version. I assume hotmail does too (if so, we’ve kept the old version).
    I use Gmail (real work and friends– the conversation function is really helpful when you’re trying to go back and figure out what was asked for and what was the finished product), Outlook (for work emails, which is mostly junk), and hotmail (for junk). They have different pros and cons.

    1. @Nicoleandmaggie have a good suggestion- if you do the majority of your email from one computer, switching to a mail client that downloads your emails may be a good solution for you. Outlook is one, there are many others. My husband used Thunderbird for awhile before his work made them all standardize on Outlook. He had some other clients he liked, too- I’ll ask him if there are any that he knows of that let you turn off threading. I think there are also web-based clients that will pull your email from an account like a Yahoo account, but I know less about those. I’m still on Yahoo, too (even though I also have a couple of Gmail accounts, I’ve never switched my “main” email to Gmail). I don’t mind the UI changes that much, but the current version of Yahoo is so slow on my old Mac that it is unusable. I also have a newer PC that I can use (bought for my projects), so I’m giving them a month to sort it out, and if they don’t, I’ll make the switch to Gmail. My Gmail accounts not only work fine on my old Mac, they still work fine on an ancient version of Safari I keep around so that I can be logged into one Gmail account there and another on my “main” browser.
      (Am realizing that this comment exposes me for the giant geek that I am. Yes, I have multiple home computers, and use multiple browsers on those computers simultaneously….)

      1. Cloud, can I just say how validated I feel that both the very tech savvy likes of you and Laura still use Yahoo accounts? My IRL tech savvy peeps have poked gentle fun of me for ages for still having my Yahoo account – I don’t like change!

        Laura, I agree with your entire last paragraph – money quote, that!!

    2. I freaking ADORE Outlook. Whenever I’m away and have to use the web mail instead, I feel totally lost, and I know I’d be way more of an email disaster if webmail was all I could use.

      One of my fave things about Outlook is that when I delete something, it’s still stored in my webmail, so I can always access it later if I really need to. This helps me be much more ruthless about deleting stuff.

  2. Great title for this post! I agree about the new look for Yahoo’s email. I also found the grouping by conversations annoying, but I managed to disable that feature by changing the settings.

  3. I do use gmail–kinda have to when spouse works for Google–and that’s actually one reason I never took your advice about not filing emails. It doesn’t work well (for me) with their interface. One thing that does work pretty well for me is archiving stuff. It’s quick and then if I’m on the fence about something I’ll archive it and then it’s not there cluttering up my inbox but is easily searchable. It took me a few weeks to get used to conversations, but now I don’t mind them anymore.

  4. So frustrating when a tech company releases an update or new piece of software (health insurance exchanges and college common application, I’m looking at you, too), and you wonder, did anyone ever thing to test this?

  5. I hate the new format too. But try this, I was looking in settings/ view email and found a setting called enable conversations. I unchecked it and yahoo seems to have stopped grouping the emails and replies together — which is a great relief.

  6. I am still accessing my work email mostly through pine, a system you are quite likely young enough not even to know, so let’s just say when it comes to not liking change (particularly change caused by others), I’m there with you.

  7. The new yahoo is annoying me so much that it’s made me delurk! I thought it was just me. Thank you for making me feel validated 🙂

  8. My work uses google apps, and I hate the way gmail groups conversations. We have the option of syncing the gmail to Outlook so I am able to use that for my email and file things away in folders where I want them. I do like the search function in gmail so I use it for that, but my brain does not work the way gmail organizes things.

  9. I had to be assimilated into “conversation view” because we used Outlook at work, and were always on the next version before it was released. Drove me batty at first, but I got used to it. It’s helpful when you get hundreds of messages a day, most of them junk. Outlook has a helpful “clean up” button which ditches the repetitive ones and just saves the latest one.

    That said, I giggled out loud at the last line of your post 🙂

  10. You can turn the conversation view off or on in the GMail settings. That will make the messages individual rather than all grouped together. Also, with a number of keyboard shortcuts which are productivity boosters, I highly doubt that you’ll regret GMail. And no, I don’t work for Google 🙂 At work I have to use the most horrendous email client imaginable. But I do love GMail for personal stuff.

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