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How to recall an email in Gmail after sending

How to recall an email in Gmail after sending

5
min read

There’s nothing quite like the embarrassment of sending an email and immediately wishing you hadn’t. 

Maybe you left off an attachment you meant to include or made a spelling mistake you didn’t notice in time. Perhaps a great idea for a catchy subject line came right after hitting send, or maybe you send the email to the wrong email address entirely.

Whatever the reason, there will probably come a time when you want to recall an email. Not only is this entirely possible in Gmail — it only requires a few steps. 

Here’s a breakdown of how to recall an email in Gmail. 

How and why do you recall an email after sending it in Gmail? 

You can recall an email (also known as Undo Send) for any reason. After you send an email, you have a short period during which you can cancel it. Keep in mind that once this recall period ends, you won’t be able to recall the email anymore. You have to act quickly. 

The steps for how to recall an email in Gmail are as follows:

  1. Log in to Gmail on your computer and send an email.
  2. In the bottom left corner of your screen, locate the “Message sent” box (seen above).
  3. In the “Message sent” box, click “undo.”

With just these two clicks, you can send and undo send emails in Gmail. 

What Gmail settings do you need to enable Undo Send? 

Google started offering Undo Send as an optional feature in 2015. As of the 2018 Gmail launch, Undo Send is automatically enabled on all Gmail accounts and set to five seconds. That means you don’t need to change any settings to be able to recall emails. 

However, it is possible to change the timeframe you have to recall emails from your Gmail account. Choose from 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds as your new Undo Send time limit.

To change your Undo Send timeframe settings:

  1. Log into Gmail on your computer.
  2. In the top right corner of your screen, click the gearshift to access the settings for your account. 
  1. At the top of the Quick settings menu that pops up, click the “See all settings” button.
  1. Scroll down the menu to the “Undo Send” section and select 5, 10, 20, or 30 from the drop-down menu next to “Send cancellation period.”
  1. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.

What are the limitations of the Undo Send function in Gmail?

The main limitation around recalling emails in Gmail is the time limit. After you pass the maximum 30-second time limit, there is no way to recall your sent emails anymore. 

Think of the Undo Send function more as a "get out of jail free" card for mistakes than a catch-all solution for sending and recalling emails. Use those 30 seconds (or whichever time limit you choose) wisely to make sure you’re comfortable with the recipient(s) reading the email you just sent. 

Can you recall an email on your mobile phone as well as your desktop? 

The Undo Send feature is available on mobile as well as desktop. On the Gmail app for mobile, the steps for recalling an email are only slightly different than on your desktop or laptop. 

  1. Log on to the Gmail mobile app and send an email as usual.
  2. At the bottom of your screen, locate the grey box that says “Sent.”
  3. On the right side of that box, click the blue text reading “Undo.”

After you click undo, you will return to the draft of the email you just recalled. 

Are there any drawbacks or risks to recalling emails in Gmail?

There are no significant drawbacks or risks to recalling emails in Gmail. The only possible downside to the Undo Send function is that it may make you less vigilant about catching errors in your emails before sending them. 

To avoid this, make sure you carefully type out all of your emails. Proofread each email once you’re finished, and check over the recipient list to make sure you spelled each email address correctly. If you referenced an attachment, make sure you attached it to the email and that there’s nothing wrong with the file. 

Try to only use the Undo Send function as a last resort, not something that affects the way you draft your emails. 

What’s actually happening when you recall an email? 

A common concern about recalling emails is that recipients may still be able to see the emails before you recall them. This isn’t the case. 

The phrase “recall an email” is actually misleading because Gmail doesn’t send out your email to the recipient(s) until the Undo Send cancellation period has passed. In other words, if you set your Undo Send time limit to 30 seconds, your recipient won’t receive your email in their inbox until at least 30 seconds after you click “send.”

Gmail gives you this grace period before sending out your email. Your recipient won’t see the email and then have it disappear before their eyes if you recall it. Any email you recall never made it to the recipient's inbox in the first place. 

If you don’t click Undo during the cancellation period, the email will go out to your recipient, and you won’t have any way to get it back. 

Can you recall an email in Gmail after the Undo Send timeframe

What happens if you send an email and only realize there was a problem with it after 30 minutes, or a day? Is it possible to recall it then?

Even though many people want to know how to recall an email in Gmail after 30 minutes or more, it isn’t possible. By this point, Gmail has already delivered the email to your recipient, and you cannot get it back. 

No, unfortunately, it is not possible to recall an email in Gmail a day after you send it. Once the maximum cancellation period (30 seconds) is over, and there’s no way to use the Undo Send feature anymore. 

Get the most out of Gmail

The Undo Send is one of several free Gmail hacks that can help you get the most out of your Gmail account. Tools like Streak will up your Gmail game even further by offering email power tools. 

Use Streak to know instantly when people read your email, schedule emails and automatic follow-up to be sent at just the right time, and more. The best part? It’s free to add to Chrome.

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