How to unsend a sent email in Gmail [Tip]

There are many good reasons why you might want to unsend a sent email. In fact, in life, there are many situations that you ardently wished you could negate, cancel, revoke, withdraw, or annul the contents of an email sent; consequences of a word spoken out of character, or an action taken recklessly or hastily.

The Situation

Imagine you work in customer service and you’re in your office doing your normal everyday work on a busy morning, when you receive an email from one of your customers complaining about the bad service he has purportedly, in his opinion, received from you. On receiving that email, you are at a loss to understand what went wrong with this customer, as you had tried your best and regularly communicated with this him regarding the progress and status of his delivery.

Probably, you have a short fuse regarding things that go wrong in your life or your frustration got the better of you in this situation.  You drafted a long defensive email to the customer to explain your actions and service that you think were exceptional as far as this customer’s order was concerned. You also reminded him that you had kept him informed during every stage of the order processing. Without giving yourself time to think about your response you hit the send button.

Now you wish you knew how to unsend a sent email so you could reply to your customer more professionally, rather in the heat of emotion.

Other Reasons

You may want to unsend a sent email for other reasons like the following:

  • You forgot to include the attachment for the email.
  • You sent your email message after including recipients who you did not want to send the message to.
  • You did not include the right subject information in the email.
  • You noticed glaring spelling errors in the email you just sent.

Gmail has a 30 second delay before mail is delivered into the recipient’s’ inbox, which you can use to unsend a sent email.

How to Unsend a Sent Email in Gmail

Step 1: Before you use the unsend or undo send facility in Gmail you need to enable the facility.

  • Login into your Gmail account using your credentials.
  • Click the cog and select the general tab.
  • Ensure Enable undo send is selected.
  • Click save changes.

Now you will have a 5 second delay before emails are delivered into recipients’ inboxes.

Step 2: To set the time delay before delivery:

  • Again, click the cog and select the general tab.
  • Ensure ‘enable undo send’ is selected for undo send.
  • Set send cancellation period from 5 to 30 seconds (preferably 30 seconds) for the delay before email is delivered to recipients’ inbox.
  • Click save changes.

Now you will have least have some time to change your mind and unsend a sent email in Gmail.

Step 3: Using Gmail, if you have already sent an email and wish to unsend a sent email.

  • Ensure background sending is off.
  • Click cancel or undo immediately when it appears.
  • Make changes and then resend the email.


It is quite straightforward to achieve this result if you set the relevant parameters for ‘enable undo’ and ‘time delay’ before delivery. It may be a good idea to go ahead and set this up because you never know when you are going to want to unsend a sent email in Gmail.

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