Friday, November 15, 2013

GTOD #31 - Whoops! How to Unsend an Email

Trust me, I know the feeling... you just sent an email and realized that you:
     a) Sent it to the wrong person
     b) Noticed that it had typos or incorrect information a split second after hitting send
     c) Shouldn't have sent at all (bonus tip: don't email when angry)
     d) All of the above

You can avoid much of this potential anguish if you turn on the undo send function in mail.  To turn on undo send, start by heading over to mail settings.

Once you are in the settings part of the mail world, head on over to Labs (the slightly experimental "holding bin" for some of mail's best features).

You should spend some time later looking at the good stuff in Labs, but for now scroll down (or search) for and enable the Undo Send function.

Don't forget to click the Save button (ironically, since Google is so good at auto-saving for us)

You'll be taken back to your inbox but you are not quite finshed just yet.  Head back to the settings and scroll down a bit on the General page (which is the page to which you will be taken upon clicking on settings).  You should see the Undo Send: options.  Make sure that you have the Enable Undo Send option checked and select your cancellation period (5-30 seconds).  It is during this cancellation period that you can prevent your email from being sent.  It's not a huge amount of time but it might be enough to spare your reputation.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and hit Save.

So, you are all set up... how does it all work?

Go ahead and compose and send your email just like you normally do.

Now, pay attention, because the clock on your undo is ticking.  You will notice after you send your email you will get a message that appears at the top of your inbox that confirms that your message has been sent (note: it actually has not been sent... It won't really be sent until the cancellation period has elapsed).  Your keen eye may spot the Undo button next to that message.  Click that Undo button and your message will not be sent.

Once the cancellation period passes, the Undo button will disappear and your message will actually be sent (bye-bye).

So, the Undo Send function does have its limitations but it's probably better than nothing.



  1. I found the link all right and read the instructions, but am wondering which email works like this. The instructions state e.g. "Once you are in the settings part of the mail world, head on over to Labs (the slightly experimental "holding bin" for some of mail's best features)". I've never seen features like 'Labs' in Google mail, Thunderbird settings or any email software I've used, so I'm wondering which software has this feature. Please let us know if you or any of your many contacts has used this software. Is it a hoax or a joke I wonder?

  2. Ruth,
    This is not a hoax. However, you do have to be using the web version of gmail (not running gmail through Outlook or Thunderbird). If you open gmail on the web and then follow the instruction in the post you will see the lab titled "undo send". I just checked and it is still there. Keep in mind, it is not all powerful and at most will provide you with a 30 second window to change your mind.

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