Be it forgotten attachments, accidental sends or situational emails where we decide to get things off our chest, all of us have certainly sent some email that we would give anything to get back.
Fortunately for impulsive people, Gmail offers the capability of recalling an email. The recalling feature is not enabled by default, but once you do it, the rest is easy. If you have a potentially career-ending or relationship ending email that you need to recall, Gmail is there for your rescue.
Gmail utilizes the “Undo Send” feature to recall emails. To enable it:
- Click the Google gear icon at the top right of your Gmail screen.
- Select Settings.
- Scroll down to the Undo Send option and click Enable.
- Set the cancellation window. You can choose to unsend the email within five, 10, 20 or 30 seconds after you send it.
Note: It is recommended that you set this time to at least 10 seconds.
Recalling a test email
After setting the Undo Send option as per your needs, it is
time to check if it works as expected.
- Hit Compose and address a quick email to yourself.
- Hit the blue Send button.
- Look in the lower left corner of your Gmail window immediately. A quick sent notification pop up displays the message Message sent and gives you an option to view the message or create a new one.
The Undo option is displayed in the middle of the notification bar. If you wait until the Undo option vanishes, then the cancellation period has expired, and it is too late to recall the email. Since Gmail allows you to set a maximum of 30 seconds for the cancellation window, it is important to click the Undo option before it expires quickly.
When you hit the Undo option, you will see that your email pops back in the initial state that you sent it in. You can change the content freely or address it properly before sending the email again. You can also delete the message and start over. There is no time limit for working on the email once it has been recalled.
The time limit for recalling the email is set in Gmail,
because Gmail does not actually undo the message after it is sent, but delays
sending the email by the time that you set. Hence, all the emails you send are
actually delayed by the time that you set allowing you to ponder on if the
email is actually worth sending or if you want to undo the send action. Emails
are actually expected to be answered in the duration of minutes rather than
seconds, hence dispatching the email, delayed by a matter of seconds is a small
price to pay in exchange for the ability to revert sending the email.