Have you ever returned to a long conversation and sighed at having to re-read it yet again?

Well, that’s what Sub Tasks were made to solve… A simple set of steps that were all you had to focus on to close off the conversation’s task. They’re like smooth rails to help you glide through your day.

But we wondered if we could improve them. During some recent customer calls, it became clear that the first & foremost ‘sub task’ is the email’s subject. But of course, the subject is not always written by you, and rarely stays relevant after 10 replies. Often it’s just plain useless.

So we sculpted Sub Tasks to be more elegant…

  1. You can now add Sub Tasks by clicking the subject, which is a more intuitive way to think to use them.
  2. Your next sub task replaces the subject with clear blue text, so you’ve got meaningful instruction at a glance.
  3. It is available even as you scroll through the conversation.

How to turn it on

Just go into ActiveInbox’s Preferences, and select ‘Align Sub Tasks & Notes View Horizontally’.

Categorised in:

This post was written by AndyM

  • Adrian Calderon

    I really like this feature! You’re totally right that the Subject of an email is rarely helpful as an actionable summary, so it’s much better to be able to overwrite it.

    Would it be possible for the same functionality to be applied to the Radar views in the Inbox? The Radar is where it would be most impactful to be able to see the meaningful action item instead of the Subject.

    • Hi Adrian,

      In the task lists (ala Radar), we do make the next Sub Task very very visible – it’s the same highlighted blue colour. (We didn’t want to go so far as to hide the subject, but I’m open to discussion…).

      • Adrian Calderon

        Since i usually have ~20+ items in my Today Radar, it would be a huge space saver to collapse the top Sub-task, which is the most meaningful information in that list, to overwrite the Subject, so that the list isn’t as cluttered with the non-useful information of the Subject.

        Additionally, when the Radar contains both actionable emails from others and Tasks that I have sent myself (which have the meaningful action item in the Subject already), it’s more difficult to mentally treat those equally, since I am usually ignoring the Subject for general emails.

        • Hmm, volume is a convincing argument, thank you!

          Anyone else want to chime in in agreement? (Or Adrian, are you in a position to share a screenshot?)

          • Joe Dent

            Yep, would love it if the new subject could be the only visible subject line – it’s confusing to have two subject lines showing. If I want to change the subject line of an email string, I want to change it in every view, please!

            Many thanks – loving ActiveInbox!

          • Christof Kälin

            Well, I think, Gmail-API doesn’t allow to rewrite the subject itself? Then there is no other option than to replace the subject with the first task’s title, IF it was created by this new functionality. I say IF, because other times we actually are able to use subject as title (tasks from ourselves) and are using subtasks.

          • Adrian Calderon

            Sure, here’s a mocked up screenshot with some examples of the challenges that could be solved by replacing the Subject line in the Radar view with the first Sub-task. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/18a88f36540524f311ba0c5c6ca879db61b7acfb54cd128d672ff476b058a982.png

        • David Shalev

          I think Adrian is spot on. As far as I can tell, currently the new blue subject line is only visible when you open up the email, and thus its usage is limited. Using Adrian’s approach, the Radar views become much more readable and truly take advantage of what this new feature aims to do. Since we are all on the same page that the subject line is best represented by using the subtask, lets take this to the next logical level and replace the subject in the Radar view.

  • Dan Fraleigh

    Love love love this… also solves the floating sub-tasks and notes issue. Well done!

    • Ah, thank you Dan 🙂

      • Dan Fraleigh

        After using it for a day I do find that if you have a number of tags applied the line gets cramped with the ‘Add Sub tasks/Notes’ button, and subject line/task title squished together. In some cases you only end up being able to see the first few characters of the subject line/task. Any chance this could be move to it’s own line, and therefore not be affected by the tags or button?


  • David Shalev

    Can’t seem to get on to 6.047. Upon reloading, only get 6.046, and thus not seeing this feature.

  • Yes that is superb!
    Could it open on Mouse Over, instead of click? I can see the first few letters of the subject. It would be great if on Mouse Over on those letters the subject would show. That would make it double superb!

    • Hi Jorg,

      Can you send a screenshot of what you’re currently seeing, that you’d like to expand on mouse over? (I’m not sure what problem you need fixing, but I’m sure you can!).

  • John Dickson Smillie

    Only for Chrome though? is this version available for Firefox?

    • Lisa Reynolds

      Hello John

      It will be on Firefox, but their approval process for new updates is at least 10 days.

      • John Dickson Smillie

        OK, thanks Lisa

      • John Dickson Smillie

        Any update on this?

  • All good, but this update also changes the Indefinite Waiting to Until Marked Done status. Is this just a change in words or is there a difference in behaviour as well?

  • Colin Fee

    Sorry not a fan of this feature. It means selecting and copying text from the subject line is no longer straight forward. After selecting text it cause the Add subtasks drop-down to open. I can see that I can turn this off if I so wish but surely the button adjacent the subject is enough?

  • Duncan Courtney


    Quite like this – does this only apply to the inbox? Doesn’t seem to replace the subject line when the message is added to the To Do list?



  • Csaba Együd

    It’s very useful! Thank you very much! 🙂

  • Ralf Bretting

    Any chance to see this feature with Firefox or Safari in the near future?