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How To Unsend An Email!

Have you ever clicked send on an email and just seconds later regretted it? Most of us have and most of us wish we could have taken the email back. Did you know that there is a way to do it in gmail? This is a quick guide that walks you through the step by step process of how to unsend an email that was sent.

*You can use our table of contents box in the right sidebar to jump to any section you want in this article. If you liked this article, you will probably find my last article on how to email large files helpful.

Reasons Why You Might Want To Unsend The Email

1. You sent the wrong email to the wrong person. This can be very bad if the information contained in the email is personal and confidential. If it is a work email, you could even get fired for sharing the wrong info with the wrong person. (In writing this article I decided to see if there were any "real" stories of this happening and guess what there are. Just type in "fired for sending email to wrong person" into Google and you will find a bunch of reports about this.

2. You the completed the email but forgot to attach the right documents to it.

3. You were in the middle of writing the email and accidentally clicked send without it being finished.

4. You were mad or filled with some other type of irresponsible emotion and sent an email off because of it and of course immediately after came to your sense and regretted the decision.

5. You were in a hurry and didn't check for grammar or misspellings or you noticed a few errors right when you were hitting the send button.

If any of these situations sound familiar, read on an learn how to unsend the email. This tutorial is only for Gmail accounts. I imagine there are similar methods in various email software but I only use gmail and am not familiar with them. If you know of the others, feel free to contact me via Google+, Facebook, Phone, or Email to let me know.

Gmail Undo Send Option

Gmail has an optional setting for unsending an email. Because it is optional it is not activated by default in any gmail account. As a user you have to tell Gmail that you would like to activate this option.

How Does It Work?

It is pretty simple. Every time you hit the send button the email is normally sent off right away. When the Gmail Undo Send option is enabled the GMail server will actually wait a little bit. This small time frame will allow the user to undo the send action and tell GMail to not send the email.

How Big Is This Grace Period?

It doesn’t last for long. To test the grace period I went in and sent a really mean email to…myself and started a stop watch right when I pressed send. The option to unsend my mean email to myself lasted for 12 seconds.

The 12 seconds must be the default setting because you can increase the grace period as well. I included instructions on how to increase the grace period at the end of the article. You can scroll down to read it or click the link to this section in the table of contents box in the right sidebar.

How To Set Up The Gmail Unsend Option

1. Log into your gmail account.

2. Click on the settings tab.

After clicking on your settings tab a drop down menu will appear. You will want to click on the Settings option within the list. This will open up a new page in GMail.

3. On the new screen locate the Labs link in the sub menu bar. The links in the sub menu bar are blue.

Google Labs are extra features that are more of an experimental or not so main stream set of features that are offered. These features could be around for a long time while some may disappear without any warning. Some of the experimental features might also be loved so much that they become default settings for GMail.

4. Scroll down until you find the Undo Send option and click enable.

5. Now that you have clicked enable make sure you save your settings before going back to your main GMail page to test out your new “Oh crap! I need to unsend that email” tool.

How To Test Your GMail Unsend Option

How brave are you/how much do you trust me that this works?

If you are really ready to take a leap of faith and see if this works, the best way is to try it with an email that you would regret sending. (Remember that I take no liability or am not at fault if for some reason it didn’t work.) If it doesn’t work, it is often times because you didn’t save your new settings.

So, who are you going to send this email to…and then quickly unsend it? A friend, a colleague, your boss, a family member?

Example of Me Sending & Unsending an Email

how-to-unsend-an-email-after-hit-send

Now quickly click the Undo link in the new yellow box that popped up.

undo-email-option

When you click on the undo option it will reopen the email that you unsent and allow you to edit the email or delete it entirely.

How To Increase The Undo Send Time

So, 10 seconds (although I timed it as 12 seconds the settings say it was 10 seconds) isn’t enough time for you to think and rethink if sending that email was the right option. That is fine. The GMail Unsend Option gives you four different times for your undo option. They are 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and 30 seconds.

That being said the GMail Email Unsend option does not work for regretted emails that were sent longer than 30 seconds ago. It will only fix a potentially huge problem if you catch it within 30 seconds. If you sent your email more than 30 seconds ago, the best option might be to just ask for forgiveness or hope they don’t open the email. Since most people get a lot of spam there is a huge possibility that they never even see your email.

You could also send them 30 emails with similar titles or various titles to distract from the one bad email.

Steps To Increase or Decreasing The Undo Send Option

1. Click the settings icon in GMail.

2. Click the settings option in the drop-down menu list.

3. On the new page stay on the General tab and scroll down to the Undo Send column.

how-increase-undo-send-time-gmail

4. Click the box that shows the time and choose the one that best fits your need.

increase-undo-send-from-10-seconds-to-30-seconds

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Resources

1. Although I didn't get this information from Google Tips you can always refer to them if you have additional questions. Here is a link to the tip about this unsend option.

2. Again I am always learning and expanding the horizon with tips, trick, and shortcuts with living life online from 8 - 5.

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