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How to recall an email in Gmail after sending

How to recall an email in Gmail after sending

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 sent the email to the wrong email address entirely.

Whatever the reason, there will probably come a time when you want to recall an email. The good news is that this is entirely possible in your Gmail inbox — and it's super easy. In fact, it only requires a few steps. 

Here’s how to recall an email in Gmail in a few simple steps. 

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 a Gmail email, you have a short undo send window during which you can cancel it in your Gmail inbox. Keep in mind that once this recall period ends, you won’t be able to recall the email anymore. You have to act quickly. 

a screenshot of the "undo" button option after sending an email in gmail

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 the Undo button

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


What Gmail settings do you need to enable Undo Send? 

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 an email in Gmail. 

Of course, that's a pretty short undo send window for most of us. If you need more time to catch any email mistakes, it’s possible to change the time frame you have to recall emails from your Gmail account. Choose from 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds as your new Undo Send time limit.

a screenshot of gmail's general settings page. the "undo send" setting option is highlighted.

To change your Undo Send time frame settings:

  1. Log into Gmail on your computer.
  2. Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of your Gmail inbox 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.
a screenshot of two buttons in gmail: "save changes" and "cancel"

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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. 

screenshot of undo send time frame options in Gmail

Think of the Gmail 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.

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

screenshot of gmail recall email feature undo send on an iphone mobile device

The Undo Send feature is available on mobile devices 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. Locate the grey box at the bottom of your screen 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.

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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.

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What’s actually happening when you recall an email in Gmail? 

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.

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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, there's no way to use the Undo Send feature anymore.

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How to write emails more confidently on the first try

Undo Send is great when you catch a mistake at the last second, but wouldn’t you rather catch them earlier? There are a few ways to write emails more confidently and reduce the odds of making mistakes.

1. Waiting to add recipients

It’s natural to fill out an email from top to bottom - Adding the recipients, the subject, then the email body. While natural, this introduces a risk of accidentally sending your email before it’s finished.

Compose your subject line and email before adding recipients to guarantee your email is finished before you send it. Gmail can’t send an email if it doesn’t know where it’s going!

2. Proofreading

Always read through your email at least twice before sending it. If it’s an especially important email, you might even want someone else to read through it for you.

While Gmail’s built-in spelling and grammar checkers help cut down on mistakes, they can’t catch mistakes related to extra or missing content. For example, they don’t know that you meant to include a price in the quote you sent to a customer.

You can also proofread your recipient list to ensure that your email is sent to the right place. 

3. Check for missing attachments

a screenshot of gmail missing attachment warning

A common gotcha for Gmail users is forgetting to include attachments that are referenced in your email. Be sure to double-check for missing attachments before hitting send.

4. Using delayed send

a screenshot of streak's schedule send feature in a gmail compose window

Streak allows you to schedule emails to send for free. By scheduling emails, you’re able to send emails while giving yourself more time to catch errors. 

If you realize you’ve made a mistake before the scheduled send time, you’re able to edit the email or cancel it altogether. You could use Gmail’s email scheduling similarly to Undo Send to give yourself more time to spot mistakes and make any necessary changes.

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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 emailschedule emails and automatic follow-up to be sent at just the right time, and more. 

The best part? Streak is free to add to Chrome and use in Gmail.

Give yourself time to review email drafts. Download Streak for free to use Send Later in Gmail, along with other free email tools like Email Tracking, Snippets, and more.

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