How to Delete Emails Instantly After Sending

Have you ever sent an email that you instantly regretted after hitting “send”? Maybe you sent an email to the wrong person or it was an angry mail to your boss, telling them (in not so kind words) what you think about them?

Whatever the reason, you now want to unsend an email, but it’s already too late. The damage has been done.

Both Gmail and Outlook offer a solution to that problem, though they work somewhat differently.

How to Unsend an Email on Gmail?

Gmail has an option in its Settings that will allow you to unsend an email before it reaches the recipient.

Here’s how to unsend an email if you’re using Gmail:

  1. Login to your Gmail account
  2. Click the cog icon in the upper left and select Settings
  3. In the Settings menu under the first tab (General) find an option titled Undo Send
  4. Next to it under the Send cancellation period select how long you want that period to be. Google allows you to cancel an email 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds after pressing “send”, so you’ll still have to work fast.Send cancellation period
  5. Once you select the cancelation period, go to the very bottom of the Settings page and click the Save Changes button.

Now we can test if this works.

  1. Compose a new email message
  2. Click Send
  3. You should see a message box saying: Your message has been sent. Undo. View Message.
  4. Press the Undo link
  5. Gmail will stop sending the message and now you can edit it and resend it again or you can close it and it will go to your Drafts folder from where you can delete it, change it or send it at a later time.

Recall an Email Message in Outlook

Microsoft’s Outlook has a similar option to recall an email message you’ve sent. However, the difference is that instead of undoing the send, Outlook will send another email message to the recipient: 

{Sender} would like to recall the message {Subject}

Here’s how to do it on Office versions newer than 2007:

  1. Select Sent Items folder from the folder pane on the left of your Outlook window
  2. Open the email message you would like to recall by double-clicking to open it. 
  3. Go to the Message tab
  4. Select Actions and then Recall This Message. Note that you will need to have an Exchange account to see this option and the feature will also be unavailable if you’re using Outlook on the web or if the message is protected by Azure Information Protection.
  5. Next, to delete mail send to trash, click on one of these two options: Delete unread copies of this message or Delete unread copies and replace with a new message. You can also check/uncheck the Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient box to know if it worked or not.
  6. Click Ok to confirm.
  7. If you select the Delete unread copies and replace with a new message option, compose a new email message and then click Send.

Which Option Works Better?

So, which option works better when you need to unsend an email? 

If I had to choose between Gmail’s unsend mail and Outlook’s recall email feature, I would go with Gmail’s option. 

The reason for this is very simple. 

With “undo message” on Gmail, you never actually send the email to the other person and so they don’t see it in the first place. As far as they’re concerned, there was no message in the first place. 

That means your boss won’t see that angry message in which you rage quit or you don’t send the message to the completely wrong person in the first place.

With “recall message”, however, the situation is a bit different. 

This option doesn’t stop the message from reaching the subject. Instead, as we said, it merely sends another message that you would like to recall the first message.

Now, that might have some uses, but let’s consider the following scenario:

  1. You compose a not-very-nice email message to your boss and click “send”.
  2. 2-3 minutes later, you regret sending the message.
  3. You then find that message and select Recall This Message and one of the two options below (delete or resend).
  4. What happens next depends on whether the recipient opened the first message or not.
  5. If they didn’t open it, but only saw the Recall message, the recall will be successful and the original message will get deleted.
  6.  However, if they did already read the original message (it’s marked as “read”, then the recall will fail and the new message is deleted. Note that the recipient still has to mark the original message as “read”. If he marks it as “unread”, the recall will still be successful, even if they read the message.

As you can see, there are a few more factors at play here, like did the recipient read the original message or did they marked it as “read” or “unread” for the recall to be successful in the first place. 

With Gmail “undo mail” option, you don’t have that problem.

There’s an Even Better Way! ⤵️

Undo Send can be a very useful option, but again, you have to work fast. If you let 30 seconds (max) pass, the message is sent and it will reach its subject (unless it bounces, but that’s another thing).

You can’t undo a message that you sent an hour or a day ago.

What you can do, instead is send an email with a Self Destruct timer on CTemplar: Armored Email.

To activate it you need to:

  1. Compose your message.
  2. Click Auto self destruct (the clock icon to the right of Send button).
  3. A pop-up will appear, allowing you to select the date and time after which the message will self-destruct. 
  4. Click Send and the message will self-destruct after its allotted time.

 Keep in mind that the message will self-destruct not just from the recipient’s inbox, but yours as well and it is only available if the recipient has a CTemplar account as well.

Ever regretted an email and wished you could undo it? Now you know how to unsend an email. Sign up to one of our paid plans today to enjoy this feature.