One of the many advantages of email is that you can send a message to anyone, anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Of course, instantaneous delivery has consequences — once you send an email, you might not be able to take it back.
Say that in the heat of the moment, you send your boss an unhinged screed about you company’s management practices. Or after a night of drinking, you might confess, in disgustingly florid prose, your love for your best friend. Maybe you sent your credit card information to that scammer claiming to be an Apple representative. It happens.
Gmail users should therefore be happy to learn that they can reach out and snag an email after having clicked Send, although the feature is hidden and the timing is strict. Also, users should note that this process only works for messages sent via Gmail, not Google Hangouts. Either way, here’s how to enable the Undo Send feature.
Step 1: First, log in to your Gmail account as you would normally and access your settings by clicking the gear icon in the upper-right of your inbox. Then, select Settings from the drop-down menu.
Step 2: Under the General tab, scroll down until you find the option for Undo Send. Check the box directly to the left of Enable Undo Send.
Step 3: Choose the cancellation period — i.e. the amount of allotted time before you can no longer undo send — from the resulting drop-down menu. Your options range from 5 to 30 seconds.
Step 4: Scroll down to the bottom of the settings page and click the Save Changes button.
Step 5: To test the feature, try sending a message. After you send an email, you will receive a notification in a yellow box near the top of your screen, which will include a button marked Undo. If you click this, Gmail will not send the message, and instead, will reopen it as a draft. That’s all there is to it!
We should also note that Google very recently updated its iOS app to allow you to unsend emails from your iPhone. This is the first major revamp the app has received in about four years, and it brings this much needed feature to the forefront. After all, it came to desktop more than a year ago.
How do you unsend a email from your smartphone? Just hit the “Undo” button located in the lower right corner of your screen. But be warned — you don’t have the option to set your time window to 30 seconds — with the iOS app, you have just five seconds to catch a mistake and react. All the same, it’s a welcome addition to the app.
Article originally published in October. Updated on 11-07-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news that you can now unsend an email from the iOS app.