Gmail Users Can Now “Unsend” Emails Sent By Mistake

December 5, 2013 - Written By Syed Sofian Rabbani

Since you’re reading this, it is safe to assume that you are one of the 425 million users who depend on Google’s fantastic email service – Gmail. Welcome to the bandwagon!

If you have stumbled here by a happy mistake, then know that Gmail is a free – albeit advertising-supported – email service provided by Google which as on date provides close to 15 GB of storage, supports email attachments up to 25 MB and is integrated deeply with other Google services such as Google Drive and Google Search. Sign up for Gmail is free and it simultaneously provides access to all of the other Google services – viz. Drive, Maps, and Google Plus etc. Your Google Single Sign on ID created on Gmail is also supported on multiple sites as well.

Coming back to the problem at hand, how many times has that send button on your email client, been clicked by mistake? Or how many times have you immediately regretted sending that email just after clicking the send button? To err is human but, sadly, divinity does not exist in abundance anymore – so people tend to be not so forgiving. Make one mistake on your email, or God forbid you mistakenly use the dreaded “Reply All” where it is not needed and you end up being reminded of that mistake for – well eternity, or until hell freezes over or pigs learn to fly.  Well, agreeably that was too dramatic, but you get the gist of what happens when you make that one mistake everyone (except you) loves to remember.

If you’re using Gmail though, you’re in luck as Google has a hitherto not-well-known feature which can undo your sent email within 10 – 30 seconds of hitting that ‘send’ button. If you’re not using Gmail, we’d suggest switching over right now.

Gmail’s Undo Send feature is a nifty little trick that is buried under the graveyard of the Google Labs Settings in Gmail. The Google Gmail Labs settings are currently available only in the browser-based version of Gmail, and are supported on the latest (and prior major release versions) of Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari browsers.  In case you use a browser other than these, you will be directed to the barebones HTML version of Gmail – which will not support Undo Send.

For your convenience, we have compiled a simple pictorial guide to help you step-by-step in this journey of activating and using the Undo Send.

Follow this guide and get started:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of your Gmail window and select Settings from the dropdown menu.
  2. screen shot 1
  3. In the row of tabs, select Labs.screen shot 2
  4. Scroll through the list of Labs’ experimental add-ons to Gmail – or Ctrl+F to find the “Undo Send” Lab. Click the “Enable” radio button to activate the feature.screen shot 3
  5. Click on Save Changes at the bottom
  6. The feature is now activated.

Once the Undo Send has been activated, whenever you send an email the yellow dialogue that displays “Your message has been sent” will also hold the option to ‘Undo’. On clicking Undo, the email will open in the composition window – unsent! You can now add whatever you missed or rectify any other changes and resend the email.

The default setting is for 10 seconds, which you can raise up to 30 seconds. Go to Setting > General > Undo Send and select a cancellation period of up to 30 seconds.  However do note that the features in Google Labs Settings are experimental and may break, change or disappear – either temporarily or permanently – at any time.

Unfortunately, the latest iteration for Gmail for Android (as of writing this article, it stands at 4.6.1), though doesn’t seem to support Undo Send. Though Gmail for Android, does have another feature which may be either useful or irritating – depending upon your point of view. Under Settings > General Settings scroll down right to the bottom to find “Confirm before Sending” and click this. Once enabled, Gmail will always pop-up a small notification window, confirming whether you wish to send that particular email or not.

Though ‘Confirm before Sending’ is not a complete replacement to the Undo Send, this particular feature will definitely come in handy to ensure that pesky email does not get mistakenly sent.

What do you think? Is this a worthwhile feature, or are you having second thoughts on using an experimental feature? We missed something out, do shout it out in the comments section below, we always love you hear from you.