The “Undo Send” feature is now officially part of Gmail. So how can you use it to stop an unwanted email from reaching its recipient?
We’ve all sent emails on the spur of the moment that we’ve regretted. Certain email programs offer an option to recall or retract an email, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the recipient won’t still receive it. Gmail’s Undo Send feature works differently in that it actually waits to send your email, giving you a certain amount of time to change your mind and prevent it from being sent. But you have to be quick, as Gmail gives you only a specific number of seconds to halt your email.
“How to unsend email” has to be the defining desperation query of the Internet, and finally there is an answer. The Undo feature is heading out of the Labs (Google’s opt-in, add-on, experimental features for Gmail) and will be an option for all Gmail users (via Web, at least).
So: Does it do what you think it does? Sort of.
This feature’s been available to Lab users for some time, and though it doesn’t exactly let you pluck an email from a user’s inbox if you encounter regret, it does afford you a few precious extra seconds for an “oh shit” moment before your words are eternally surrendered to the ether.
Navigate to your “Settings” pane in the menu directly below your profile photo and you’ll be given the option to “Enable Undo Send,” along with a drop-down that lets you customize the cancellation period for the feature: five, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.
I’ve got mine set to 30 because a) you can never be too careful and b) it’s as close as you can get to 24 hours.
Keep in mind Undo Send won’t help if you wake up riddled with regret the morning after sending a novella-length email to an ex. But if you’re giving your words a final once-over after sending and find a typo, you just might have time to rescue it from the clutches of the Internet before your incorrect use of “there” is immortalized in someone else’s inbox.
How to Unsend an Email with Gmail
To take back an email shortly after you have sent it in Gmail on the web:
- Make sure Undo Send is enabled (see below).
- After having sent an email in Gmail:
- Click Cancel immediately (if background sending is not enabled),
- click Undo when it appears or
- press z.
- Make any desired changes to the message, then send it again.
How to Unsend an Email with Gmail Mobile App
To recall an email immediately after you have sent it in a Gmail mobile app (for iOS or Android):
- Tap Undo in the bar that says Sent..
- While the Gmail app is still delivering the email (usually immediately after you have tapped the sending button), click Cancel under Sending….
Enable “Undo Send” in Gmail on the Web
To have Gmail hold back delivery of sent messages for a few seconds so you can take them back:
- Click the Settings gear (⚙) in Gmail.
- Select Settings from the menu that appears.
- Go to the General tab.
- Make sure Enable undo send is selected for Undo Send:.
- Click Save Changes.
Can You Change the Time Before a Message Is Delivered With “Undo Send” Enabled in Gmail?
You have at least 5 seconds to unsend the email by default and up to 30 seconds.
To increase the time before the email gets delivered:
- Click the Settings gear in your Gmail’s toolbar.
- Choose Settings from the menu that has come up.
- Open the General category.
- Pick the desired time to undo message delivery for Send cancellation period: __ seconds under Undo Send:.
- Click Save Changes.
The Undo Send feature is a handy way to ensure that the wrong email doesn’t get sent to the wrong person.