How to Retract an Email in Gmail

October 10, 2022
How to Retract an Email in Gmail
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

When you hit the send on an email, it's usually gone for good. However, there are times when you may want to take it back. Maybe you noticed a typo, forgot to include an important attachment, or sent a business email without a signature.

So, can you retract an email in Gmail after you’ve sent it? Fortunately, the answer is a ‘yes’. Gmail allows users to retract an email they have just sent for a brief period of up to 30 seconds. This often overlooked “Undo Send” feature is a godsend when you send out an email by mistake.

In this article, we’ll explain how to retract an email in Gmail so that you don’t have to be embarrassed the next time you see the recipient.

How to retract a Gmail email you’ve just sent

Step 1: Go to Gmail

Let’s get started on retracting an email. Go to your Gmail account. Once you're logged in, click on the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen to open Settings. From the menu that pops up, select "See all settings" and it’ll open up a new page.

Step 2: Set your settings to “Undo Send” emails in Gmail

On the Settings page, go to the “General.” Scroll down to the “Undo Send” section. For most, this feature is active by default, but you may need to enable it by clicking the check next to it.

Once enabled, select how long you want the send cancellation period to be. This is the timeframe that you’ll be able to retract the email before it’s gone forever. The default is 5 seconds, but if you find that 5 seconds isn't enough, you can change it to 10, 20, or 30 seconds. A lot of people want to know how to unsend an email after an hour or even unsend a Gmail email after 10 minutes but this, unfortunately, is not possible.

Once you've made your selection, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "Save Changes."

Step 3: Compose an email

Now that the "Undo Send" feature is enabled, compose an email like you normally would. Type out your message and add any attachments that you need to include. When you're ready to send your email, click on the "Send" button in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Step 4: Click “Undo” from the pop-up

To be able to retract your Gmail email, you’ll have to act fast! Immediately after clicking on the “Send” button, a pop-up window will appear with two options: “View message” or “Undo.” If you decide that you want to retract your email, simply click on the "Undo" button and your email will go back to draft.

If you want to view your message, you can click on the "View message" button and proceed as normal.

When you click “Undo Send,” your sending is canceled before it reaches the recipient’s server. If you wait too long, it will arrive at the end server, and you won’t be able to retract your Gmail email. Make sure you increase the cancellation time if that’s a concern!

Step 5: Revise your email draft

A nice thing to note is that when you retract an email in Gmail, it isn’t deleted entirely. Instead, it’s going to return to draft mode. This means you can review the message and make the necessary changes before sending it off again. You can find the message in your “Drafts” folder if needed.

If you don’t want to send your retracted email anymore and want to delete it, you’ll have to do so manually. You can do this on the draft page or in your “Drafts” folder.

Avoid the need to retract an email in Gmail

Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s easy to make them if you’re sending out multiple emails a day. Luckily, by taking some precautions ahead of time, you can avoid making typos or grammatical errors.

First of all, we’d suggest turning on Smart Compose. Smart Compose is a feature that Gmail offers that makes suggestions while you write your emails. It’s powered by machine learning, so it might know what you mean to type before you do! To turn it on, go to your Gmail settings, go to “Smart Compose” under the General tab, and click “Writing suggestions on.”

Also, consider adding a grammar-checking tool like Grammarly to your browser. It’ll catch any mistakes you make, highlight them, and offer a suggestion for revision. If grammar isn’t your strong suit, it’s okay! Have a tool that takes care of that for you.

If you’re sending out the same email many times, you’ll make a mistake at some point. Instead, try creating an email template on Gmail!

Save yourself the heartache by retracting an email in Gmail

Retracting an email in Gmail is a very simple process that can save you a lot of embarrassment or even get you out of a sticky situation. Following the steps outlined above, you can easily cancel the send on an email and make the necessary changes.

So, next time disaster strikes mid-email, don't panic—just hit undo!

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