We’ve all been there. You haphazardly dash off an email wrought with spelling errors; you accidentally hit “Reply All” for a private email; or you type out an angry missive and send it, only to change your mind once the button has been clicked. While everyone can commiserate, you may not have to relay the story to your friends at happy hour if you can get that email back before it’s read. But can you unsend an email? If you’re using Gmail or Outlook Exchange Server, there are ways to take control.

In Gmail

Gmail “gets” the idea behind accidentally sending an email. If you have the right settings, you have anywhere from five to 30 seconds to nab the email back before anyone sees it, but you must first have the “Undo Send” function enabled within Gmail. Here’s how:

  1. Open your Gmail account.
  2. Navigate to and click the gear symbol, found at the top right of the page, just under your account name and profile picture.
  3. Choose “Settings.”
  4. Find the “Labs” tab and click it.
  5. Scroll down to the section for “Undo Send.” Click the radial button beside “Enable.”
  6. Click “Save Changes.”

When you send an email, you’ll now see a new option at the top of the page. After clicking “Send,” you’ll see your usual “Message Sent” alert at the top of the page, but you’ll also see an option for “Undo Send” for a short amount of time after you’ve sent the message. It will undo the send command and the recipient will not receive the message. Gmail has heard the cries of “can you unsend an email?” and done something about it.

Keep in mind that once the “Undo Send” prompt disappears, you will not be able to undo the action.You need to act quickly or lose your chance.

Using Outlook Exchange Server

If your email operates on a Microsoft Outlook Exchange Server, you can also undo a sent message. This is typically used when the employees of an organization share the exchange server and won’t work when you’re sending email outside of your organization. Still, it might come in handy if you accidentally send a message to a coworker. You can recall it by following these instructions:

  1. Click “Sent Mail” in the left navigation pane.
  2. Find and select the message you’d like to recall.
  3. Click “Actions” in the “Message” tab at the top of the window.
  4. Choose “Recall this message.”

You’ll only see the option to recall if you’re on an exchange server and your organization has enabled the option. If it’s not available, a follow-up email may be a better course of action than trying to get the message back.

Have you ever sent an email you wish you could unsend?

Image courtesy of stock.xchng




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