Recall Emails in Gmail, Avoid Embarrassment

Woman freaking out in front of laptop computer

Just about everyone’s done it at least once. You’re in a rush to send an email and in your haste you make a glaring mistake. Whether it’s misspelling the recipient’s name at the beginning of the email, forgetting an attachment, or just sending the email before it’s complete, we’ve all been there.

Thankfully, if you use the Gmail Web client to send messages, there’s a feature you can enable that lets you recall your errant email before it gets you into hot water.

Interested? Of course you are. Nobody wants to come off looking like an idiot, and now you don’t have to. Here’s how to recall emails in Gmail.

SEE ALSO: The Complete Guide on How to Export Google Contacts

How to Recall Emails in Gmail

1. First things first, you need to be using the Gmail Web interface for this feature to work. Log into your Gmail account over at This will work even if you’re a Google Apps user.

2. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the window and select Settings.

3. On the Settings page, click on the Labs tab.

Gmail Settings page

4. Scroll down the page and locate the Undo Send section. Click the Enable radio button, scroll to the very bottom of the page, and click Save Changes.

Gmail Undo Send section

5. Next, click on the General tab of your Settings page and scroll down to the Undo Send section. Here you can set the timeframe during which you can recall a message. The default is 10 seconds, but you can go as high as 30. Once you’ve set your preferred time, click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

Setting cancellation period in Undo Send in Gmail

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Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

Testing It Out

Now that you have the Undo Send feature set up, it’s time to take it out for a test run. I wouldn’t recommend testing this for the first time by sending your boss an email telling him or her what you really think of them; maybe try sending a test email to one of your other accounts.

Using the Web client, start a new email, enter an email address to send to, and type a quick message.

Typing test email in Gmail Compose window

When you’re ready, click the Send button. Once you do, you’ll see this notification at the top of the window, directly under the search bar.

Notification of sent Gmail message with Undo link

Click Undo to recall the message. It will open up the Compose window once again and you’ll be ready to make any necessary changes.

SEE ALSO: Steal These 7 Famous Productivity Tips Today

How’s It Work?

Basically, the recall email feature works by delaying the sending of your email for the amount of time you set. In other words, if you set a 30-second recall, any emails you compose in the Web client won’t be sent until 30 seconds AFTER you click the Send button.

This allows you to stop the countdown and change the message before it actually sends. Once the email actually is sent this time, there’s no turning back.

More Great Gmail Tips

Hopefully this “second-chance” feature can really help you avoid sending embarrassing emails and look smarter overall. Want some more Gmail goodness?

How about how to export your Facebook contacts to Gmail, or maybe how to send email from a different address in Gmail?

If you love all the Google Apps, then you’d probably like to know how to import events into Google Calendar and how to sync Google Contacts with the iPhone.

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