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How to recall an email in Gmail

Emails shouldn't be the cause for regrets!
By
June 5, 2022

Gmail is among the top email clients, with a 28% market share as of May 2022 (according to Litmus) and over 1.5 billion active users. With so many Gmailers, we’re sure many of you are trying to take advantage of all the service’s features. One of them is the ability to recall an email in Gmail.

The ability to recall or “unsend” an email in Gmail is great and was introduced a couple of years ago. It has proven to be a life-saver when a mistake slips through or when you regret sending an unpleasant email. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, today we will teach you all about how to recall an email in Gmail. Let’s dig into the details.

Read also: How to set up a Gmail account

QUICK ANSWER

You can recall an email on Gmail if you act quickly. After composing and sending an email, you should get a notification that says en email is Sending, with a Cancel option right next to it. Hit Cancel. If you missed it, the notification will say the email is Sent, with an Undo option next to it. Tap on Undo.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

What does recalling an email on Gmail actually mean?

Gmail on tablet stock photo 5
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The truth is you can’t really recall an email in Gmail after it has been sent. Google only allows you to “unsend” an email. Unsending an email in Gmail is only possible for a short period of time, so it isn’t a true recall like you would be able to do in Outlook. With Outlook, you can recall or modify an email even after it was sent. On Gmail, nothing can be done after the delivery has been completed.

How to send a confidential email in Gmail

The closest thing to a true email recall in Gmail is removing access to a confidential email. Using confidential mode allows you to set an expiration date and passcode for the email. It also lets you remove access early, which is essentially like recalling an email. The only caveat is that you must send the email as a confidential email from the get-go. Here’s how to do it.

See also: How to create a group email in Gmail

How to send a confidential email from the web:

  1. Go to Gmail and Compose your email.
  2. Look towards the bottom-part part of the composition window and click the Toggle confidential mode button, which looks like a lock with a timer.
  3. Set an expiration date and passcode.
  4. Hit Save.
  5. Send the email.
  6. To remove access to the confidential email, go to Gmail and find the email in the Sent section.
  7. Open the email and select Remove access.

How to send a confidential email from the Gmail app:

  1. Open the Gmail app and Compose an email.
  2. Tap on the three-dot menu button.
  3. Select Confidential mode.
  4. Set an expiration date and passcode.
  5. Hit Save.
  6. Send the email.
  7. To remove access to the confidential email, go to the Sent section.
  8. Open the email and select Remove access.

How to recall an email in Gmail

Gmail logo on smartphone stock photo 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Using confidential emails involves a more complex process, and you need to be proactive to remove access to them. Chances are you won’t think of using a confidential email beforehand, in which case unsending an email in Gmail is your best bet.

How to recall an email in Gmail for the web:

  1. Go to Gmail and compose your email.
  2. Hit Send.
  3. Here’s where you get your first chance to recall an email in Gmail. When you send a message, you’ll get a notification at the bottom of your screen that says Sending…. On the far right, you can select the Cancel button.
  4. If you missed that chance, Gmail will send you a second notification that says Sent, with an Undo button to the right. Hit Undo to recall an email in Gmail.

How to recall an email in the Gmail app:

  1. Open the Gmail app and Compose an email.
  2. Hit Send.
  3. When you send a message, you’ll get a notification at the bottom of your screen that says Sending…. You can select the Cancel button.
  4. If you missed that chance, Gmail will send you a second notification that says Sent, with an Undo button to the right. Hit Undo to recall an email in Gmail.

Get more time to undo emails

Microsoft Surface Duo GMail not spanning correctly 1
David Imel / Android Authority
Gmail incorrectly spanning

The ability to recall an email in Gmail comes stock with every account since 2018, but it has its limitations, as mentioned earlier. Most importantly, it’s a time-sensitive feature that only works for a few seconds. If you don’t recall an email in Gmail within a few seconds, the regretful email is already delivered.

Google knows this can be an issue and has given you a feature to extend the time you get to cancel the email. Here’s how you can give yourself a bigger window of opportunity to make sure sent emails are good to go.

Extend the time you get to unsend an email in Gmail:

  1. Go to Gmail.
  2. Click on the Settings gear icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Select See all settings.
  4. Under the General tab, find the Undo Send section.
  5. Hit the drop-down menu next to it and select your Send cancelation period of preference. The limit is 30 seconds.

FAQs

Gmail gives you a bit of breathing room to cancel emails shortly after pressing the Send button. That said, an email can’t really be recalled after it has been actually sent.

By default, you have five seconds to cancel an email. This period can be extended to 30 seconds in the settings, though.

Confidential mode allows Gmail users to grant or revoke access to an email at will. One can also select how long the email is live for.