How to Unsend Email (& UnEmbarrass Yourself)

It’s been a long time since I’ve sent an email I truly regretted, but that doesn’t mean it feels like a long time ago: I recall it viscerally.

It was awful. I was in high school. I’d invited a friend (someone I’d met on a family vacation and then corresponded with in writing) to visit. She replied that she was coming—for four days. I forwarded the email to my then-boyfriend with some complaints about the bind I was in, the too-long stay. You see where this is going? I didn’t forward it. I replied.

I wrote her immediately to apologize. I backpedaled. I pleaded that she stay as long as she like. She graciously accepted the apology—and only stayed two nights. It was likely never forgotten—by either of us. Huge lesson learned.

I’m not sure Google would have rescued me. I don’t think I realized my error until she replied to my horrible, horribly embarrassing snafu.

But for the sake of many relationships, Google has listened: there is now a way to UNSEND GMAIL! You have 30 seconds max to catch that grammatical error, to stop transmitting your hotel plans to your boss on a sick day, to take-back your “Dear John”-letter. Or you might just consider never writing it in the first place! (See how, below the break.)

What’s your most horrifying, embarrassing email regret? What would you un-send? Let’s hear it!

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 3.23.53 PM

How to Unsend A Gmail:

  • Choose “Settings” in the Gmail Settings menu (accessed top right), and go to the “General” tab: Find the setting “Undo Send” and check the box to enable.
  • Click the drop-box to set a cancellation period: you can have up to 30 seconds to prevent an email from being sent.
  • Scroll down and “Save Changes.”
  • Test it. Send an email to yourself. You’ll see a message at the top of the screen: “Your message has been sent. Undo. View Message.” If you click nothing at all, it will be sent in 30 seconds.If you click the undo link, you’ll see the email again and can choose to make changes or close it (it will be saved in your drafts).

And how to un-embarrass yourself should you need to:

An April 2014 study suggests that focusing on the context of an embarrassing event—”like what you ate that day or what you wore—instead of thinking about how you felt, helps alleviate the stress these memories create.” So confront the memory (rather than deny it) and then walk yourself through all the details surrounding it.

Go forth and be kind!

P.S. A must-know setting for your iPhones before handing it to your young kids.

[Second image and study findings via The Huffington Post]

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