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Can You Unsend An Email in Gmail? (Yes, Here's How to Recall It)

May 30, 2022

If you’re wondering if you can unsend an email in Gmail, the short answer is:

Yes!

In case you sent an email with typos or forgot to attach a PDF document, you can quickly unsend the message like nothing happened. 

As long as the recipient has not opened or read the received email.

You can simply undo a Gmail message by clicking “Undo Send” if you decide to recall an already sent email.

There is, however, a time caveat to this.

So, it’s not like you can unsend a Gmail message 10 minutes after sending it when the recipient has already clicked on it.

Below, we’ll show you how to undo a sent email and how you can access it on your desktop or mobile phone by answering the following questions:

  • How Does Gmail’s “Unsend” Feature Work?
  • How Can I Unsend a Gmail Message?
  • How Can I Set a Recall Time For My Gmail Message Beforehand?
  • How Can I Unsend A Gmail Message From My Desktop?
  • How Can I Unsend A Gmail Message From My Mobile? (Android, iPhone, and More)
  • Why Can’t I Change The Unsend Time Settings On My Gmail Account?
  • Can I Recall An Email I Sent On Outlook?

Here’s what you need to know.

How Does Gmail’s “Unsend” Feature Work?

The Undo send is a default feature in Gmail in case you want to recall the email.

But if you’re wondering how it works, exactly, here’s a quick breakdown of the technical side.

  • Your email is held on Google's servers until the default time (7 seconds) elapses.
  • Clicking Undo will cancel the send and allow you to further edit your message, such as include an additional attachment or edit your typo.
  • After the 7 second delay, your message is released from Google's servers and is actually sent.
  • Gmail creates draft messages at intervals as you type. So, when you hit send, it gets released from Google's servers.
  • As we’re about to show you below, you can edit the time delay to be 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds.

Let’s take a look.

How Can I Unsend a Gmail Message?

The Undo or Undo Send function is the only feature on Gmail that expressly allows you to retract an already sent message. 

All other features allow you to create, delete, or format and send bulk or simple messages at a time without limitations to the number or size of messages you can send. 

As with any other messaging service, there’s always the likelihood of sending a message to the wrong address, attaching the wrong document in a message, or a simple typo that you notice once you’ve already hit the send button. 

The Undo function is, in essence, a delay feature on Gmail, and as such, it only works to recall a sent email within a limited time frame

If you are constantly sending Gmail messages, you can make good use of this feature by setting a time limit for unsending your messages if and when you need to.

message banner that pops-up when you sent an email with Gmail

How Can I Set a Recall Time For My Gmail Message Beforehand?

Gmail allows you to easily set an “Undo Send” time limit on your Gmail account. 

This customization function is only available on your desktop and the time adjustment is not applicable on the mobile version of Gmail. 

Here’s how to set a recall time delay when unsending your Gmail messages:

  • Log in to your Gmail account on your desktop.
  • On the top right side of your screen, click on the Settings button.
Location of the settings con in the Gmail homepage
  • On the options on the pull-down menu, click on the See All Settings option.
go to "see all settings" to explore the advanced settings page
  • Click on the General tab on the options panel that appears on your screen.
explore the general settings page to change the undo time on your emails
  • Scroll down to the Undo Send option and on the Send Cancellation Period tab, choose between 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds as your email recall time limit.

How Can I Unsend A Gmail Message From My Desktop?

If you wish to retract a Gmail message that you have wrongfully sent on your desktop, you can do so within a window period of between 5 to 30 seconds, depending on your time delay settings.

Here’s how to undo an email you just sent from your desktop browser. This works regardless of your browser, operating system, and so on.

Immediately after you send a message, a pop-up bar appears on the lower left side of your screen, notifying you that the message has been successfully sent. 

The pop-up bar also gives you the option to Undo the sent message or View the message.

when you send a message, it also gives you the option to unsend it

To recall an already sent Gmail message, click on the Undo message immediately after sending the Gmail message or within the set Undo Send window period. 

The Undo feature recalls your Gmail message and brings you a new window to compose your email afresh.

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How Can I Unsend A Gmail Message From My Mobile? (Android, iPhone, and More)

You can unsend a Gmail message on mobile as long as you reverse the send action within 5 seconds of sending the message. 

Unfortunately, the mobile version of Gmail does not allow you to extend the time delay.

So, you have to do it within the default 5 seconds.

If you are using an Android or iOS phone to send a Gmail message, a pop-up bar appears on the lower part of your screen immediately after you send the message. 

This pop-up bar notifies you that the message has been Sent on the left side, and on its right is the Undo option. 

what the undo banner looks like in Gmail mobile

You can click on the Undo option to recall your sent email. 

Once you press Undo, this feature initiates the process of recalling the email and indicates “Undoing…” on the pop-up bar. Once complete, Gmail takes you back to Compose, where you can draft a new email.

Why Can’t I Change The Unsend Time Settings On My Gmail Account?

Gmail only allows you a limited window period to recall already sent emails. 

The Undo Send function works by delaying the completion of send action. 

A delay function can only extend for so long, especially in a messaging service like Gmail that allows you several message correction and delete features that you can put to use before hitting the send button.

Electronic messaging services capitalize on the instant delivery of messages to recipients. 

Gmail only allows you to adjust the unsend time settings between 5 seconds and 30 seconds to ensure a balance between speedy delivery of messages and allowance for correction or recall.

What if you don’t use Gmail?

Here’s how to unsend an email on Outlook.

Can I Recall An Email I Sent On Outlook?

What if you don’t use Gmail and want to recall an email with mistakes on Outllook?

Outlook Exchange also allows you to unsend an email when you need to. 

But there’s an important caveat you should know about.

This email exchange feature only works if you and the recipient are both Outlook Exchange or Office 365 users. 

The Outlook email recall feature is only available if you are using Windows operating system.

Unlike Gmail, which has a brief recall window, Outlook Exchange allows you to recall an email at any time, provided the recipient has not yet opened it

Outlook also notifies you whether your email recall has succeeded or failed

To recall an email on Outlook:

  • Log in to your Outlook account.
  • Open the Sent Items folder on the left side of your screen.
  • Select the email you wish to recall and double click to open it in a new window on the email list that appears.
  • Click on the Message tab at the top of the new message window.
  • Select Actions.
  • Click on Recall This Message.
how to unsend an email form outlook
  • On the dialog box that appears, select either Delete Unread Copies of This Message or Delete Unread Copies of This message & Replace With A New Message.
recalling an email that as been already sent
  • Then, select the Tell Me If Recall Succeeds or Fails For Each Recipient option on the dialog box to receive a recall notification.
  • Click OK to initiate the email recall once you have selected your preferred delete option.

You can also change the delay email option on Outlook instead of recalling them. 

Delaying the delivery of a message allows you time to reconsider and reformat your messages.

To schedule or delay delivery of messages on Outlook:

  • On the top menu of your screen, select the Options tab.
  • Click on More Options.
  • Select Delay Delivery.
another option is to delay delivery for your emails
  • In the dialogue box that appears on your screen, click on Properties.
  • Under the Delivery Options tab, check the Do Not Deliver Before box.
  • Set your desired date and time when your email will be delivered to your recipients.
this option lets you delay and schedule when you want your email to be delivered
  • Click on the Close button to complete scheduling or delay your email delivery.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever sent an email with typos or forgot to attach an important PDF document - there you go!

You can simply change the delay timer to 30 seconds and get a good, second look at your email. In case you want to recall it.

Hopefully, this guide to unsending emails was helpful. The next time you send that awkward email by mistake, you’ll know what to do!

If this was indeed helpful, then you might also want to read:

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