Emails can be addressed to multiple people either by adding them to the To field, or to the CC or BCC field. When you reply to an email, you don’t necessarily have to reply to everyone in the original email. You can remove people, or add them. Unfortunately, many people tend to compulsively click on Reply without checking if they’re replying to the original sender, or to every single person in the email. This normally starts a chain of lots of people hitting reply all. If you use Gmail, you can set the Reply button to always use Reply and never Reply all by mistake.
Gmail Reply button
Open Gmail and click the cog wheel button at the top right under your profile picture. In the menu that opens, select Settings. On the ‘General’ tab, scroll down to the ‘Default reply behavior’ setting. You will see one of two options; Reply, and Reply all. Select Reply and then scroll to the end of the page to save the change.
Any time you click the Reply button, the reply you type will be sent only to the original sender of the email and not to everyone else included in it.
If you ever need to use the Reply all feature, you will have to click the more options button next to the reply button and select ‘Reply to all’ from the menu.
This option is only going to work if your use Gmail web. The Gmail apps for iOS and Android have different buttons for Reply and Reply all. If you use a desktop email client, and you connect your Gmail account with it, this setting will not apply. The desktop email client will have its own settings and if you’re afraid you might accidentally hit Reply all, then look for a setting to disable it in the desktop client, or an add-on that can do that job for.
This should stop you from accidentally replying all but in the event someone else does and you’re one of the recipients of an email where everyone else is now replying to everyone else, you can use the Mute feature in Gmail. This will mute all alerts for an email unless you’re directly mentioned in it.
This is a per-email setting which means you will have to apply it for any email that you don’t want to be alerted to. Realistically, while Reply All emails do tend to happen, they aren’t frequent enough to need a blanket setting for muting alerts for them.