After years of being only a “labs feature,” Google has officially made the feature it calls “Undo Send” (some call such a feature “retrieve email”) available to any Gmail user (including business customers of Google Apps for Work). “Undo Send” allows people using Gmail to cancel a sent email if they have second thoughts immediately after hitting the “send” button. Here’s how to enable it and use it. (And an explanation of why it’s not actually “retrieving” email.)
How-to enable the ‘Undo Send’ feature in Gmail
- Click the gear in the top right corner of your Gmail dashboard.
- Select Settings.
- Scroll down to the “Undo Send” button and select the enable option.
- Select the amount of time (in seconds) you want to have to “unsend” an email. (See below why this is important.)
- Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
How-to ‘Unsend’ an email
After enabling the feature, whenever you send an email, a message highlighted in yellow will appear at the top of the email dashboard window. The word “Undo” will appear for the number of seconds you designated when enabling the feature in the email settings (you can change that setting at any time). The word “Undo” will disappear when the allotted time expires. (Note: If you don’t see the yellow highlight, still look for the word “Undo.” In some email clients, the appearance may be different.)
Why timing is everything: The undo send feature isn’t magic—it doesn’t make an email disappear. And it doesn’t send super-hero electrons out into the tubes of the Internet to capture and retrieve your email. It simply delays the number of seconds between when you click “send” and when Gmail actually sends the email. You are undoing the send, not actually retracting the email. Set your time accordingly. It’s great for when you hit “send” to soon, but it won’t work if you have second-thoughts the next morning.