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March 19, 2009

Undo Sending a Gmail Message

If you ever send a Gmail message too early or you change your mind after you press "Send", there's a feature that will help you. It's called "Undo Send" and you can find in the crowded space of experimental features from Gmail Labs.

After enabling the feature, Gmail will show an "undo" link when you send a message. You have to react quickly because the link disappears in 5 seconds and there's no way to bring it back. If keyboard shortcuts are enabled in your Gmail account, a better option than clicking on "undo" is to press "z". When you undo sending a mail, Gmail saves it as a draft and you can continue editing the message or discard it.


"Sometimes I regret sending a message the morning after. Other times I send a message and then immediately notice a mistake. I forget to attach a file or email the birthday girl that I can't make her surprise party. I can rush to close my browser or unplug the Internet — but Gmail almost always wins that race. (...) I could undo just about any other action in Gmail — why couldn't I undo send? (...) My theory (which others shared) was that even just five seconds would be enough time to catch most of those regrettable emails," says Michael Leggett from Google.

I don't think that 5 seconds are enough to realize that sending the message was a mistake, but it's a good trade-off between functionality and the need to provide a reliable service. A simple improvement could be a configurable delay before sending messages.

{ Thanks, Niranjan. }

39 comments:

  1. Ha! I just sent you an email about this new feature in Gmail Labs. Works well, too.

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  2. This is the most useful lab feature in my opinion.

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  3. May be they should one more " suspending" button for the people who could undo.

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  4. 5 Seconds are not enough, I now people that will come to a sad realization like half a day later when they're sitting some where cool, an thinking how good they feel because they finally said what they wanted to that person through email, xD and then come to the conclusion that it was a very unwise (just to keep it pg13) idea!

    Is that or either I watch to many comedy movies!

    Iaax Page

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  5. I think it should be customizable with the time. i think 5 minutes would be better.

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  6. I think 'Mail Goggles' is much better and more smarter. What I mean is it can hold you for sending emails until you're confident in doing so.

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  7. I agree with corey - it should be customizable

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  8. Finally... I had this posted on the forums forever.

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  9. undo is cool. perhaps customizing the time as you like would be even better: 5, 10, 15 seconds, etc...

    what about an extra option, different from this lab feature, that allows you to decide when and what time to send an email? this would be fantastic, especially when going on vacation, when wishing happy birthday in advanced (i always forget!), etc.

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  10. hi its really a cool valuable option in gmail. i just now tested in glabs it's working fine wow. thanx for sharing such a great post.

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  11. Very nice, it seems to delay sending for just long enough :-)
    Although it's getting rather hard to find them on that list - I missed it twice, it's easier to find starting at the end of the list - the 6th from the bottom

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  12. Definitely agree. A configurable delay AND an option to schedule the email for a specific time and date would be ideal, especially for announcements and email campaigns that need to go out at specific times.

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  13. Awesome implementation - agree, customization would rock!

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  14. 5 seconds? that isnt enough. how about having an option in the settings to set it at a default of 5 but changeable to 10, 15 20 seconds and a last option called verify after 10 minutes

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  15. So, why don't "create" an outbox and let the users choose what time spent to send the message "out" of this???
    Seems like a copy of resource, but seems more functional too...

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  16. I remember back in the day when I had America Online dial up and you had the option to do this to e-mails sent to other users of AOL. Gmail should do the same thing! The majority of my friends and family use gmail so it would work excellent for me.

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  17. I actually think its funny that gmail just thought of this. Microsoft Outlook has had the "recall" feature for a while and there is no time limit....

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  18. @cscottdraw:

    How message recall works

    "This feature requires you to use a Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 or later e-mail account. The recipient of the mail you want to recall must also be using an Exchange server e-mail account. For example, you cannot recall a message sent to someone's personal Internet service provider (ISP) (ISP: A business that provides access to the Internet for such things as electronic mail, chat rooms, or use of the World Wide Web. Some ISPs are multinational, offering access in many locations, while others are limited to a specific region.) POP3 e-mail account."

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  19. you can now set a 'cancellation period' in settings > general

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  20. You can use Live HTTP Headers to replay the Settings request after you've modified the Cancellation Period, and fill in an arbitrary value for p_ix_scp in the POST data. I have tested it with 60 (seconds) and it seems to work... I agree that there should be a different tool that lets you send mail at a designated time in the future.

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  21. Anyone notice that even after you disable the Undo option, your mail still seems to be sent on a delay.
    I find that my comments in fast passed email threads are much slower than they used to be! :(

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  22. Bummer. My mom just cc'ed my dad on an email about his surprise party - but it was more than half an hour ago. She's scrambling to get into his account before he does. Yikes.

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  23. Useful Feature! But just sent a mail by mistake, by the time I land in this page, I missed the Undo link.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  24. I need the Gmail Labs please.

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  25. i sent an email and i tried to undo it before the person retrieves and i couldnt, so i deleted my whole gmail email account.....does anyone know if my outgoing message can still be seen by that person????????????????

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  26. I think an hour should be given to be able to undo a sent email.

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  27. Is there a way to recall an unread message after it's been sent? In Outlook you can recall messages at anytime as long as they haven't been opened by the recipient. They also have the option to replace the old message with a new one. Any chance a feature like that will be added to Gmail labs?

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  28. Why you are forcing me to act in 5 secs? I want to recall it unless message is read as in outlook.Come on google, you already think everything, you just miss this one!!!

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  29. gmail has everything in it, but why not "recall option"?

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  30. I totally agree! Why not add that recall feature? This morning I sent an email and only now, in the afternoon, have i realized that it contains a couple of mistakes that I would so much want to be able to correct. Only I cannot! As the receiver is 8 timezones away I could have managed to recall, correct, and re-send, if Gmail only had that feature....

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  31. Need more time to recall a message. Also, should be in bold where you dont have to look for the button.

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  32. GOOGLE, we need a recal feature up here!!!
    Come to think of it everyone needs it, we all make mistakes in one way or the other that we wish to correct. YOu ve got to give it to us now.

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  33. NIce feature but of no Use unless you dont have control over it ! no use !

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  34. 5 seconds is NOT enough time!!!

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  35. I completely agree! We really need a recall feature! I just sent a response where I was bcc-ed and didn't realize. I am regretting it and wish I used Outlook instead :-(

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  36. Outlook's recall feature only works if both parties are using Microsoft Exchange servers. Most personal accounts don't use Exchange, and even for Exchange users the chance of succeeding in a message recall are spotty at best. It's unfeasible to have such a feature on any web email provider, even Gmail. Besides, nowadays by the time you realize your mistake, the recipient is already reading your message on their iPhone 4S.

    See also @Alex Chitu's comment back in March 2009.

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  37. What about undoing message on chat if the receiver is offline and the same message is sent as an email which the receiver gets in their inbox.

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  38. please , one day is very need!!!!!

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  39. I think a person should be able to recall his message at anytime-but before the reciever reads it.
    Hence if he finds the message is not appropriate or there is a mistake or so;he/she still stands a chance of removing the message...
    I hope Gmail would come up up with this feature..

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