Discover top guides, trends, tips and expertise from AIO Writers

How to Unsend an Email in Gmail & Outlook

Julia McCoy
Tuesday, 30th Apr 2024
how to unsend an email

You hit “Send” on an email and your heart sinks. Wrong recipient, embarrassing typo, or forgot the attachment. We’ve all been there.

But what if I told you that you could take back that email? That’s right, there’s a hidden feature in Gmail and Outlook email clients that lets you unsend emails and save yourself from those “oh no” moments.

In this post, you’ll learn exactly how to unsend an email in Gmail and Outlook, step by step. No more cringing at sent emails!

Let’s get into it.

Table Of Contents:

How to Unsend an Email in Gmail

We’ve all been there. You hit send on an email and immediately realize you made a mistake. Maybe you forgot to attach a file, sent it to the wrong person, or just said something you shouldn’t have. Your heart races, your palms sweat. Is it too late?

Good news – if you’re using Gmail, you might be able to unsend that email. But you have to act fast.

Gmail’s Undo Send feature gives you a short window to recall an email message after hitting send. It’s a lifesaver, but it’s not foolproof.

How do you use this feature to save yourself from email embarrassment?

Step 1: Enable Undo Send in Gmail Settings

First things first – to unsend an email in Gmail, you need to enable the Undo Send feature in your settings. Here’s how:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top right corner of your Gmail inbox and select “See all settings”
  2. Scroll down to the “Undo Send” section
  3. Choose your cancellation period — you can select 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds
  4. Scroll down and click “Save Changes”

how to unsend an email on Gmail

That’s it. You’ve now enabled Undo Send. But remember, this isn’t retroactive — it only works for emails you send after enabling the feature.

Step 2: Use the Undo Send Feature

Okay, so you’ve enabled Undo Send and you just fired off an email you regret. Here’s what to do:

After you send an email, look for the “Message sent” notification that appears in the bottom left corner of your screen.

You’ll see the option to “Undo” or “View message”.

Click “Undo” – but be quick about it. You only have a few seconds before the option disappears and your email wings its way to the recipient.

If you click “Undo” in time, your email will pop back open in the compose window, letting you edit or delete it before sending it again.

Crisis averted!

Now, about that cancellation period. When you enable Undo Send, you get to choose how long you have to recall an email — 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds. Personally, I like to give myself the full 30 seconds. The more time to realize and rectify a mistake, the better.

But even 30 seconds isn’t a ton of time. And once that window closes, there’s no getting your email back. So while Undo Send is a fantastic feature, it’s not an excuse to send emails recklessly.

Always take a moment to double-check your message before hitting send, even with Undo Send enabled.

Undo Send is available in the Gmail web client and the Gmail mobile app, though the mobile app has a shorter cancellation window of just 5 or 10 seconds.

So if you’re firing off important emails on the go, be extra careful.

Visit Google Support for updates on how to unsend emails on Gmail.

How to Unsend an Email in Microsoft Outlook

Maybe you’re not a Gmail user. If Microsoft Outlook is your email client of choice, you’re not out of luck – Outlook also has a feature for recalling emails. But it works a bit differently than Gmail’s Undo Send.

In Outlook, you can try to recall emails after they’ve been sent, but only under two conditions:

  1. The recipient must also be using the Outlook email client.
  2. They haven’t read the email yet.

So it’s a bit more of a gamble. Let’s look at how it works in the Outlook desktop app and the Outlook web client.

Unsend Email in Outlook Desktop App

If you’re using the Outlook desktop app, here’s how to attempt to recall an email:

  1. Go to the Sent Items folder
  2. Double-click the message you want to recall to open it
  3. In the Message tab, select Actions > Recall This Message
  4. Choose whether to “Delete unread copies of this message” or “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message”
  5. If you’re replacing the message, compose your new email and click Send
  6. You’ll get a message letting you know if the recall succeeded or failed for each recipient

how to unsend an email on Outlook

Keep in mind that this only works if the recipient is also using Outlook and hasn’t read the message yet. If they’ve already opened it, you’re out of luck.

Unsend Email in Outlook.com

Bad news for Outlook web client users — there’s no recall feature in the web version of Outlook. If you send an email you regret, your only option is to send a follow-up email with an apology or correction.

This is a major drawback of the Outlook web client compared to the desktop app. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to use the desktop version for important emails. The lack of a recall feature in Outlook.com is also a stark contrast to Gmail, which offers Undo Send on both its web and mobile clients.

So if you’re an Outlook.com user, be extra careful before hitting send. Double and triple-check your email, because once it’s sent, it’s gone for good.

Whether you’re a Gmail devotee or an Outlook enthusiast, the ability to unsend or recall an email can be a lifesaver. But it’s not a foolproof solution. The best way to avoid email mishaps is still to pause, proofread, and think before you send. Undo Send and message recall are safety nets, but caution and care are still your best bets for avoiding email embarrassment.

Key Takeaway: Ever sent an email too soon? Gmail lets you hit “undo” but act quickly. Enable Undo Send in settings, pick a time limit, and use it right after sending. For Outlook users, recalling is trickier and works only if the recipient hasn’t read it yet. Moral of the story: double-check before hitting send.

How to Unsend an Email on Mobile Devices

We’ve all experienced that moment of dread after hitting “send” on an email, only to realize we made a mistake. Whether it’s a typo, the wrong recipient, or an incomplete thought, the desire to unsend an email is universal.

The good news? Many popular email apps, like Gmail and Outlook, offer an “unsend” feature on mobile devices. This feature gives you a brief window to recall the email before it reaches the recipient’s inbox.

Unsend Emails in the Gmail Mobile App

The Gmail mobile app for iOS and Android includes the same “Undo Send” feature as the web version. After enabling it in Settings, you’ll see an “Undo” button after sending an email. Tap it within the set cancellation period to unsend.

Here’s how to enable and use Gmail’s Undo Send on mobile:

  1. Open the Gmail app and tap the menu icon (three horizontal lines).
  2. Scroll down and tap “Settings.”
  3. Select the email account you want to enable Undo Send for.
  4. Tap “Undo Send” and choose a cancellation period.
  5. After sending an email, an “Undo” option will appear at the bottom of the screen. Tap it within the set time frame to unsend the email.

Keep in mind that you have a small window to undo send email on mobile compared to the desktop app, with a maximum of 10 seconds to recall the email.

Unsend Emails in the Outlook Mobile App

Unfortunately, the Outlook mobile app does not currently have a built-in unsend feature like its desktop counterpart. However, you can still achieve a similar effect with a bit of email management.

One workaround is to use the “Schedule Send” option, which allows you to delay when an email is sent. This gives you a chance to review and edit the email before it reaches the recipient. Here’s how:

  1. Compose your email as usual in the Outlook mobile app.
  2. Instead of tapping “Send,” tap the three dots in the top right corner.
  3. Select “Schedule Send” and choose when you want the email to be sent.
  4. If you need to make changes or cancel the email, go to the Scheduled folder, open the email, and tap “Cancel Send.”

While not as seamless as a true unsend feature, scheduling emails can help prevent mistakes and give you more control over your email communications on mobile devices.

Tips for Avoiding Email Mistakes

While the ability to unsend an email can be a lifesaver, it’s always better to avoid mistakes in the first place. Here are some tips to help you send error-free emails and reduce the need for the unsend feature:

Double-Check Recipients and Content

Before hitting send, take an extra moment to review your email. Check that you’ve selected the correct recipients and the correct email address, especially if the email contains sensitive information. Give the content a once-over for any typos, unclear phrasing, or missing attachments.

If you’re prone to sending hasty emails, try reading your message out loud before sending it. This can help catch errors and ensure your tone comes across as intended.

Further reading: How to Write an Email: 15 Ways to Make an Impact

Use Delay Send Options

Many email clients offer a “Delay Send” feature. This allows you to schedule emails to be sent at a later time or set a default delay for all outgoing messages.

Even a short delay of a minute or two can make a big difference. It gives you a chance to have second thoughts, catch mistakes, or even refine your message for better impact.

To enable Send Delay in Gmail:

  1. Click the gear icon and select “See all settings.”
  2. In the “Undo Send” section, set a cancellation period of 5 to 30 seconds.
  3. In the “Delay Delivery” section, choose a delay time for all outgoing messages.
  4. Scroll down and click “Save Changes.”

Save Drafts Frequently

Get in the habit of saving your email drafts often as you compose them. Most email clients automatically save drafts, but it’s a good idea to manually save periodically, especially for longer emails.

Saving drafts ensures you don’t lose your work if your email client crashes or you accidentally close the window. It also allows you to step away and come back to the email later with fresh eyes for proofreading.

Key Takeaway: Accidentally sent an email? Don’t panic. Gmail and Outlook on mobile have your back with “Undo Send” and “Schedule Send.” Quick taps can save the day. To avoid oops moments, double-check recipients, use delay send options, and save drafts. A little caution goes a long way in email peace of mind.

FAQs: How to Unsend an Email

Can you unsend an email you already sent?

Yes, if your email client supports Undo Send. Gmail and Outlook let you cancel a sent message within a short time.

Can I unsend an email after an hour?

No, most email services only give you seconds to minutes to unsend. An hour’s too long.

Is it possible to delete a sent email?

You can’t delete emails from the recipient’s inbox. But, use recall or undo features right after sending for a do-over.

How do I unsend an email after 30 seconds?

In Gmail, set Undo Send to 30 seconds in settings first. Then click “Undo” quickly after sending.

Conclusion

And there you have it — the secret to unsend emails in Gmail and Outlook. It’s like a magic button for those moments when you wish you could take back a sent email.

While the unsend email feature can be a real lifesaver, it’s not foolproof. By taking a few extra precautions and using email management strategies, you can avoid most email mishaps in the first place. But when mistakes happen, now you know how to unsend an email and make things right.

Written by Julia McCoy

See more from Julia McCoy
UNLOCK YOUR POTENTIAL

Long Headline that highlights Value Proposition of Lead Magnet

Grab a front row seat to our video masterclasses, interviews, case studies, tutorials, and guides.

Experience the power of RankWell®