Google’s New Feature Deletes Awkward Sent Emails

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  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • June 25, 2015 at 2:55 PM

If you have ever accidentally sent an email to the wrong person, or written one that you never really planned to send, then you’ve probably also dreamed of being able to take it all back.

Now, Google has released a feature that does just that: Undo Send. As Google explains in a blog post, this feature “allows people using Gmail to cancel a sent mail if they have second thoughts immediately after sending.”

Undo Send has been available in beta through Google Labs for a while now, and Google says it’s proven very popular. Google then launched it on mobile app Inbox by Gmail, before making it available across all Gmail platforms in June 2015.

“The feature is turned off by default for those not currently using the Labs version, and can be enabled from the General tab in Gmail settings,” Google says, adding that: “People currently using the Labs version of ‘Undo Send’ will have the setting turned on by default at launch.”

Undo Send gives Gmail a window of 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds to cancel an email once they have hit send. It works by “holding” the sent email for longer than usual, so that it never ends up in the recipients inbox if you decide to “undo” it.

The feature was first introduced in 2009 but has stayed in testing and Labs mode until now. The following steps show how Gmail users can activate Undo Send now:

  1. Click the gear in the top right .
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Scroll down to “Undo Send” and click Enable.
  4. Set the cancellation period (the amount of time you have to decide if you want to unsend an email).
  5. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

While there is currently no undo or recall feature available through other free personal email servers such as Yahoo or Outlook, some email software has this option. Microsoft Office Outlook, for example, has a feature that allows people to recall or replace emails on a closed network (ie if both sender and receiver are using Microsoft Exchange).

The launch of Gmail’s Undo Send, however, brings this feature to the masses – and is getting a lot of media attention as a result. So it may just be a matter of time before other personal email services decide to include a similar option to help cut back on embarrassing emails everywhere.

Images: Gmail logo, source: Wikimedia Commons; Inbox settings screenshot, source: supplied.

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