How to Recall or Unsend an Email in Gmail

Occasionally, we regret hitting the Send button on an email and want to immediately recall the action. It may be a hastily written message or an annoying forward that creates a bad impression. This tutorial shows how you can tweak Gmail settings to give you a generous 30-second cancelation period to recall or unsend the email so that your recipient won’t see it. Our instructions cover both Gmail on a web browser and the Gmail app for iOS/Android.

Tip: use Gmail offline if you enable the correct settings.

How to Unsend an Email in Gmail Web Browser

To recall or unsend an email in Gmail using any desktop web browser, follow these steps:

  1. Hit the “Send” button after composing a new email.
Click the "Send" button in Gmail's web browser.
  1. Recall the outgoing email at any time by tapping the “Undo” button, which will stay on your screen for 5 to 30 seconds, depending on your “Send cancelation period” settings.
Click "Undo" button in Gmail message sent on Gmail's web browser client.
  1. A “Sending canceled” or “Sending undone” message tells you that the email will not be received by your recipient.
  2. The email will go back to your Gmail “Drafts” for you to edit.
Sending cancelled message shown in Gmail web browser.

Warning: you can’t recall an email in Gmail by deleting a message from the Sent items. The moment you visit the Gmail “Sent” folder, the “Undo” button will fade away. The email that you were trying to avoid sending will have already reached your recipient’s inbox.

Also helpful: if you sync your Gmail account to Apple Mail, you can schedule and unsend messages from the Mail App.

How to Unsend an Email in Gmail Mobile App

To recall or unsend a Gmail email in the Gmail app on Android/iOS, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Gmail app home screen, and click the “Compose” button to draft your email.
  2. Hit the “Send” button.
Hit compose button in Gmail mobile app.
  1. While the email is sending, you will get a couple of seconds to hit the “Cancel” button.
Click "Cancel" button while email is sending in Gmail mobile app.
  1. If you can’t hit the “Cancel” button quickly enough, you can still click on the “Undo” button that stays on your screen for an additional five seconds.
Click "Undo" text in Gmail mobile app after an email is sent.
  1. You will notice an “Undoing” status at the bottom, indicating that the email has been recalled.
Gmail email in "undoing" status as shown in Gmail mobile app.

Good to know: If you’re facing any authentication problems in Gmail that prevent you from accessing your account, follow this handy guide that solves the issue.

Increase the Time Window to Unsend Emails in Gmail

Desktop

By default, Gmail on a web browser lets you recall an outgoing email for up to five seconds. To increase the time window to up to 30 seconds, follow these steps:

  1. Click the gear icon on the top right. It will open the Quick Settings panel underneath the icon.
  2. Click on “See all settings” to access the complete list of Gmail settings.
Click "See all settings" in Gmail's web browser.
  1. Under the “General” tab, scroll down to “Undo send,” which has a drop-down menu next to it.
  2. Edit the “Send cancelation period” value from the default 5 seconds to 10, 20, or 30 seconds. Choosing a maximum time of 30 seconds gives you more time to decide whether you should cancel an email.
Set the Undo Send cancellation period as 30 seconds in Gmail's Settings on Desktop
  1. Click “Save changes” to apply the recall time settings.
  2. Every time you send an email, the “Undo” button will flash on the screen for up to 30 seconds.
Click "Save changes" in Gmail's web browser to apply a new change.

Mobile

Gmail’s mobile apps don’t allow you to undo messages more than the default timeline of five to seven seconds. Currently, the apps lack a menu option to increase the “Send cancelation period” value.

However, there is a tweak you can utilize with “Confirm before sending,” that gives you a little more time to think.

  1. Click the Gmail menu icon on the top left of your screen (three horizontal lines).
Click the Gmail menu icon indicated by three horizontal lines.
  1. Scroll down and tap on “Settings.”
Click "Settings" inside Gmail mobile app.
  1. Go to “General settings,” and check the box next to “Confirm before sending.”
Select confirm before sending in Gmail mobile app.
  1. The next time you send an email, you’ll see a confirmation dialog box that gives you a little more time to pause and think about whether the email should be sent. Click “OK” to send the message.
Send message confirmation dialog in Gmail mobile app.

The question is, what are your options if you need more time than 30 seconds? Gmail carries a “Schedule Send” button right next to the “Send” button on both Gmail webmail and the mobile app. You can delay your message for several minutes, hours, or days.

You can also use Google scripts to automate your Gmail emails or manage several Gmail accounts from the same place.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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