Currently, when receiving notifications in the inbox, you get a number in the top bar on the inbox button. But when you open the inbox that number is gone and everything is marked as read. I don't think this is good behaviour.

I would suggest that only the messages that were clicked are marked as read and the number simply decrements. This would make it easier to follow-up on them. Also there can be buttons for marking individual messages as read, marking them as unread too, and a big button to "mark all as read".

A humble attempt at propagating my suggestion into a design:

New inbox

I had to fake one of my notifications being unread and sorry, it's badly done. Notice the "mark all as read" conveniently placed in the top right. Notice to the bottom left of each notification the individual mark as read button, in the shape of a bold checkmark for "unread" and a lighter one for "read". This could also be an o for read and a for unread or anything else that the designers see fit.

Question history about this here

Can we get an option to stop the global inbox from marking everything as read? was already asked here but this was declined simply because it asked for a setting and SO doesn't do preferences. I'm asking to modify the default behaviour.

Then there's Viewing inbox should unmark read items rather than all items but the so-called duplicate is not a duplicate at all. Also this was before the entire top bar was re-done and it was still the Stack Exchange MultiCollider SuperDropdown thing.

Related (other people want this):

  • 8
    I happen to like the current behaviour and hate systems that force me to mark each and every message as read. I get 30-100 of these per day. Anything that I am interested in and cannot yet follow up on, I open in a new tab and / or use the responses tab in my profile to track. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 11:07
  • 9
    @MartijnPieters hence there would be a "mark all as read" button too.
    – MarioDS
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 11:09
  • Closely related (asking for a way to do it on a case-by-case basis): See all unread inbox messages Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 21:17
  • @MartijnPieters you can have the option of mark all as read.
    – user308037
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 12:15
  • This was effectively implemented by the recent inbox improvements, so I'm marking this as [status-completed].
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 17:48

1 Answer 1


This request has been effectively implemented on November 29th, 2022 as confirmed by V2Blast in this comment: (he was a CM at the time of posting the comment)

This was effectively implemented by the recent inbox improvements, so I'm marking this as [status-completed].

Among other changes and improvements to the inbox functionality, the following changes you requested were implemented:

  • The number in the top bar on the inbox button no longer disappears and everything is no longer marked as read.

  • The open/closed envelope icon toggles the read status of a message and the number in the top bar changes accordingly.

  • There is a [mark all as read] button which greys out when there are no more messages to read.

The following image demonstrates this:

image of inbox functionality showing envelope icon and message counter in top bar


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