We all dread those moments when you realize that you’ve just sent out an important email with a glaring typo in it. After all, it’s only natural to make mistakes in something as mundane as sending an email. Usually, minor typos in emails are overlooked by the recipients. However, there are some other mistakes that you may want to desperately avoid, such as missing an attachment, spelling the name of the recipient wrong, forgetting to (B)CC someone, etc. So how do you unsend an email that you’ve already sent? How can you UNDO an email that was mistakenly sent before you could finish typing? Read on to know all about unsending and recalling emails.
Can you Unsend an Email? Before we learn how to unsend an email, let us first understand what it actually means to “UNDO” the email. You see, the email technology as we know it today is very old and hasn’t evolved much in recent years. Unlike most modern chat apps, the ability to recall an email message is not built into the core email technology — meaning that once an email is sent, it is truly sent. So how do Gmail and other popular Email Service Providers allow you to unsend or UNDO an email? Well, they do this with a clever little trick.
Let’s first dive into the Undo Send Email feature in Gmail.
Undo Send in Gmail
Gmail is arguably the most popular email service provider today, so you can imagine the sheer volume of emails that are mistakenly sent using Gmail. It’s no surprise then that Google decided to throw in a feature that allows you to “undo” an email after you’ve sent it. The Undo Send feature in Gmail was earlier available as part of Gmail Labs, but is now a default option on all Gmail and G Suite accounts. With this feature, Gmail allows you up to 30 seconds to undo an email that you’ve just sent. Let’s see how to customize the Undo Send option in Gmail and use it to your maximum advantage by changing the Send Cancellation Period.
How to Change the Time Allowed to Use Undo Send in Gmail
- Visit https://mail.google.com and log into your Gmail account.
- Click on the settings icon at the top right of the Gmail interface, then click on the ‘Settings’ option.
- Choose your preferred Send cancellation period from the dropdown. The options provided by Gmail are 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds.
I have this set to 20 seconds, which gives me enough time to change my mind and hit the Undo Send button if needed. The only downside is that the recipient receives your email delayed by 20 seconds, which is fine considering the chance to fix your mistake in the email.
With this out of the way, let us see how to actually use this feature.
How to Unsend an Email in Gmail
Learning how to recall an email in Gmail is fairly easy once you know what to look for. Here’s how you can Undo Send on an email that you’ve just dispatched.
- After you send any email in Gmail, you will see a tiny message at the bottom left of the Gmail interface that looks like this.
- When you’re in your Inbox, Gmail will include a ‘View Message’ option. If you have ‘Send and Archive’ enabled, the wording of the message will slightly differ.
- Gmail will display this message and allow you to click on the ‘Undo’ link for as long as the Send cancellation period that you’ve set in the instructions above.
- Important: If you click away from this screen and navigate to another email or view inside Gmail, the option goes away. So make sure you click wisely.
How to Recall an Email in Outlook
If you’re looking to unsend or undo an email in the Outlook app, things work a little differently here. Unlike Gmail where you only have a finite time before you can Undo sending the email, in the Outlook app, you can Recall the email message as long as the recipient has not read it. That is, if and only if the sender and the recipient both are using a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account in the same organization.
This is great when you are part of an organization or team and have just mistakenly sent an email to one of your colleagues which has an error. You can easily recall an email in Outlook using the following option.
- Click on the ‘Sent Items’ folder on the left of the Outlook window.
- Locate the email message that you want to recall and open it by double clicking.
- Under the ‘Message’ tab, click on the Actions > Recall This Message option.
In case you do not see the Recall Message option in Outlook, there are three possible options why:
- The recipient has already seen your email and it cannot be recalled now.
- The recipient does not have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account.
- The feature has been disabled for your organization by your administrator.
Unfortunately, the option to recall an email message is not available in Outlook on the web.
How to Unsend an Email in Spark using Any Email Service
Spark is the incredible email app for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Android devices from the house of Readdle. Spark has a powerful set of features and works with all kinds of email service providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and many more. If your favorite Email Service does not let you unsend an email, simply download Spark for free, add your email accounts and you’ll automatically get the ability to ‘Undo Send’ on an email.
Why is Spark a perfect email app for Gmail or Outlook? Well, for starters, Spark gives you a whole lot of options to fix your mistakes when working with email. Spark goes way beyond offering just an undo send option for email — it lets you undo several different types of actions. Every time you send an email, pin, move, archive, delete, or mark it as read, Spark allows you to undo your last email action. Just click on Undo or hit Command + Z and your last action is automatically reversed.
This is great for when you accidentally Archive an email or Move it to the wrong folder. Spark is designed with the best email experience and you’ll start loving your email in no time. Get started with Spark for Free.
How to Avoid the Need to Unsend an Email
All the features that we’ve described on this page are nifty to have with you when you make mistakes. But there are times when you notice your mistake a little too late. Or maybe you are using an email service provider that does not offer the Undo Send functionality. What do you do?
Here are some tips that’ll get you prepared to learn how to avoid the need to unsend an email in the first place:
- Proofread your Email before Sending: This is fairly obviously, but it’s appalling how many people still don’t proofread your emails. Checking the content of your email while you type is just not enough. Once you’re done composing your email, step back from the keyboard, rest your eyes, and read the email at least once in its entirety. It’s much easier to locate any issues this way and much easier to fix too.
- Delay Sending your Email: Unless it is absolutely necessary to send the email right away, it is a good idea to delay sending the email by a few minutes (or hours) in some cases. With Spark Email, you can manually choose a date and time when your email is to be sent with the Send Later feature. This gives you ample time to fix any issues. The Send Later feature is especially great for when you’re working late nights, so you can schedule the email to be sent in the morning. Learn how you can schedule emails to be sent later with Spark.
- Check Attachments: It’s always a good idea to check whether the email needs an attachment before hitting the send button. Get into the habit of asking yourself, “Attach before Sending?”
- Leave the To: field for the End: If you’re prone to mistakenly hitting the keyboard shortcut to send an email while trying to hit another shortcut, a good trick to avoid this is to fill out the To: field of the email at the very end. This ensures that you don’t send out incomplete emails by mistake.
Many of the issues that require unsending an email can easily be avoided with apps like Spark. Download Spark for Free and switch to the best email experience for yourself and your team.