Here is the problem, and you can search and find lots of people who complain about it:

Let's say you sell something (e.g., run a small business selling on the Internet) and you use PayPal to accept payments. PayPal sends every single notification of a payment with the exact same subject line "Notification of payment received".

So, if you receive a payment from Bobby Sue, and then you get a payment from Billy Jo, Gmail shows:

Bobby Sue via PayPal(2) - Notification of payment received

and /nothing/ for Billy Jo. Billy is the (2), but it's buried in the same "thread"

And if you process Bobby Sue's order, and archive it, that archives Billy Jo's order as well. If you aren't careful, you can forget to ship anything for that order. And Billy don't like that.

I've searched long and hard for a setting or a way to keep Gmail from doing that, or to change what PayPal sends in its subject line. Seems to be a case of immovable object and irresistible force.

Any ideas?

My only idea is that Gmail can be accessed by app scripts, and perhaps one could be written to find the transaction id in the email and tack it onto the subject when it arrives. But I can't find any example scripts that edit the subject line. Any idea if that is possible?


The reason this is happening is because you have threaded view on, also known as conversation view.

You need to go to Settings > Conversation View and turn it off.

Conversation view in the settings

  • Yes, but that turns off conversation view on ALL emails, and in most cases, it's a valuable feature. I don't want to disable it, I want those specific emails only to be separated. – James Newton Feb 10 '15 at 23:16
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    @JamesNewton Gmail is sophisticated, but not that sophisticated. I highly suggest you use a desktop client, which is much smarter than Gmail's simple web client, for this kind of functionality. – oldmud0 Feb 10 '15 at 23:19
  • Yeah... that's what I was doing... then the issue becomes copying data back and forth constantly between the two systems. :sigh: Really seems like one should be able to do this with an appscript. – James Newton Feb 10 '15 at 23:21
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    You can't edit messages with Google Apps scripts, sorry :( – oldmud0 Feb 10 '15 at 23:25
  • You could write a script that checks for any new mails from paypal in regular intervals. Then it reads the name, transaction id and amount from all new mails and copies that data into a spreadsheet. – SpiderPig Feb 11 '15 at 0:06

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