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How to unsend an email in Gmail

With this Gmail feature, you have up to 30 seconds to catch and unsend a grammar mistake, a misspelled name, or even the wrong recipient before it's cast into someone's inbox abyss.
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Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor on
Gmail app.
Getty/Picture Alliance

Admit it: You rarely proofread emails and every once in a while (or very often) that typo seems to just mock you as it sits in your Sent folder. There's just something about hitting the Send button that makes you feel so productive, even if it means you didn't spell productive right in your actual email. (Believe me, I've been there.) 

Luckily, Gmail has an Undo Send feature that gives you up to a 30-second grace period after you send an email, so you can sneakily proofread before the message disappears from your grasp. Here's how to enable the feature.

Also: How to recall an email in Outlook

How to enable Undo Send in Gmail 

1. Log into your Gmail account

First, make sure you're logged in to your Gmail account and your inbox is fully visible. 

2. Click Settings

In the top right corner of your inbox, click on the Settings icon (gear). From there, click on the first button that says "See all settings".

Settings in Gmail inbox
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

Also: Google: Gmail is getting this new look to make switching between apps easier

3. Find Undo Send under the General tab

Once you're in Settings, you'll see a lot of options under the General tab; Undo Send is the fifth option down. Use the small drop-down menu to select your desired cancellation period -- you have the choice of 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds. 

Button to select desired cancellation period in Gmail.
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

Also: How to change your Gmail inbox layout (and why you might want to)

4. Save Changes

After you've made the selection for your Undo Send time period, scroll down to the very bottom of the General Settings menu and then click "Save Changes".

Save changes button in Settings.
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

5. Test

Once you've saved your changes and feel you've given yourself enough of a grace period (which you can change at any time by repeating the above steps), type up a draft email and make sure that the feature works before sending an email with some weight to it. 

Upon sending, you will see a "Message sent" notification on the bottom left corner of the screen. On the right side of the text should be an "Undo" toggle.

Undo sent message in Gmail.
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

6. Fix the message before you send (for real this time)

When you toggle the Undo button, the message will recall itself and appear as a draft window again, waiting to be edited and sent out again. 

All this to say, make a habit of proofreading emails. Take a second or two longer to double-check names, places, and important dates and times before you slap the "Send" button. As a last resort, know that you will always have a 30-second-long Undo button at your disposal.

Also: How to create a Google Calendar invite straight from Gmail 

FAQ 

How long do I have to recall a message in Gmail?

Gmail's Undo Send feature allows a 5 to 30-second grace period before your message officially lands in your recipient's inbox. After you log into your Gmail, go to Settings > See all settings > Undo Send > select time on dropdown toggle > Save Changes. After you save your changes, you'll have the amount of time you selected to catch any mistakes and undo the message before it's officially sent.

Does Gmail have read receipts?

Unless you request a receipt from Google, you cannot tell when someone has opened or read your email. 

Does Gmail automatically delete emails?

If an email is in your trash or spam folder for over 30 days, Gmail will automatically delete those emails. Otherwise, you have to manually delete emails yourself.

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