We’ve all probably done it: sent an email that we’ve like to have back. Whether it’s because we hit “reply all” on accident or wrote some things in the heat of the moment that we regret soon after, many emails have reached the wrong eyeballs since the advent of the online service.
Google has been working to give people a way out of a regrettable email send, and this week it became a reality for all Gmail users. Several news outlets reported that Gmail’s “Undo Send” has become an official feature of the web mailing service. NDTV Gadgets pointed out that the feature actually was announced six years ago, but that it was parked under the Labs section of Gmail, meaning Google employees had been testing it out but weren’t ready to promote it to the “General” section under Settings.
Where to Find Gmail’s ‘Undo Send’
You can find the “Undo Send” feature in the browser version of Gmail by pressing on the sprocket in the upper right-hand corner and clicking on Settings. “Undo Send” is the 10th item down on the list, and you’re going to have to click a box to enable it. From there, you can choose a buffer window of anywhere between 5 and 30 seconds before each email is officially shipped off. After you’ve sent an email and if you want to cancel it, you’ll see an option popping up on the screen asking you if you’d like to undo your latest outgoing message.
Now, you not able to pull an email out of a recipient’s inbox once it’s been delivered, but with the “Undo Send” feature enabled, you are able to give yourself a second chance to really think about whether the email should be sent in the first place and if you sent it to the right people. If only this feature were more pervasive years ago, then we wouldn’t have such reason to laugh about the erroneous “reply all” send, as was the subject of this memorable commercial that ran during the Super Bowl in 2011.
Why the ‘Undo Send’ Feature is Significant
Gmail is undoubtedly a leader in the world of free email services. Gmail leapfrogged Hotmail in 2012 for the most active monthly users among email providers, and the Google creation hasn’t looked back since. Hotmail, however, still has a slight lead for the most people worldwide searching for it, as Tech Times reported last September. Nonetheless, the industry looks to Gmail when it comes to email features, and with the “Undo Send” option’s rise to prominence, you can bet other email services are going to follow suit.
It’s worth noting that the office worker seen in the Bridgestone Tires commercial above was likely using an email service like Microsoft Outlook to send out the email in question. If only there were a way to recall it, huh? But, wait, Microsoft Outlook does have a similar, yet more roundabout way to rescind emails: You have to basically set up a delay period on all of your outgoing messages, and then you can go into your outbox and trash any email that you don’t want to be delivered. HowToGeek.com pointed out a long-winded way to set up the defer option in Outlook 2010, which will work similarly in the 2013 version. Even so, Outlook’s defer option is a far cry from the ease of Gmail’s “Undo Send” feature.
Even though “Undo Send” feels like it should have been around at least a decade ago – on any halfway decent email provider – there’s still a ways to go before the function is mainstream. Hopefully, other services will follow Gmail’s lead and implement their own easy-to-use versions of the feature, and then we’ll all have a second chance to undo any damage done by pressing “reply all” accidentally.
Do you have any funny stories about instantly regretting sending an email? Let us know in the comments below.