What is Self-Destructing Email and How It Can Help You?

Do you remember playing with invisible ink when you were a kid? Maybe you wrote a secret note that you wanted only one special person to read or you helped a buddy with an answer on a difficult exam.

Well, we grew up now so we no longer use invisible ink to write notes. 

Now we use a self-destructing email app when we don’t want our message to be around the Internet for more than necessary.

What is Self-Destructing Email?

Just like a note written in invisible ink, a self-destruct email is an email that disappears and becomes unreadable after either a certain amount of time has passed, or when the sender requests it.

There are two main types of self-destructing email. They are:

  1. Time-based.

 In this case, the email self-destructs or disappears after a previously determined length of time. This time is determined by the sender before sending the email to the recipient and it can be a day, a week, month, or any length of time specified by the sender.

  1. Retractable. 

Let’s say you wrote a really angry email to your boss, calling him all kinds of names. Luckily, common sense prevailed and you realized that this is not the best way to resolve a conflict, especially not with your employer. 

The trouble is that you already pressed “send”. Well, if your boss hasn’t gotten to reading his email just yet, you still have a chance to cancel that email and pretend like nothing happened.

Just smile and nod as he passes you by.

Google’s “Attempt” at Self-Destructing Email

Somewhere in 2018, Google introduced “confidential mode” in Gmail, allowing users to set an expiration date for their messages or entirely void access to them. 

The new mode was first made available on computers and then on Android and iOS devices.

To activate it:

  1. Start composing a new email.
  2. In the New Message window, at the bottom, where you’ll find the Send button, find an icon that looks like a combo of a lock and a clock. That’s the icon to turn the confidential mode on/off. Click on it.
  1. Now a new message window will open, where you will be able to set an expiration date (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, or 5 years and if you want to include a Google-generated SMS passcode.
  1. And then just hit Save.

This was picked up very soon by almost all big tech news sites, who were running over each other in praising Gmail for this “amazing new feature”.

However, as we already covered many times, privacy and Gmail just don’t go hand-in-hand. Our friends at Tutanota wrote a great article, debunking Gmail’s confidential mode’s claims to privacy.

Here’s a little excerpt from it, we wholeheartedly recommend checking it out:

  1. The emails are not end-to-end encrypted.
  2. Google retains full access to the email even when you set a self-destruct email.
  3. If you password-protect and email, Google can link your recipient’s phone number with their email address.

Also, the fact that Google will auto-generate an SMS passcode for you will only mean that they will have full access to the “password-protected” message.

A Better and More Secure Self-Destruct Email Account

Gmail’s confidential mode is only confidential on paper, but not so much in reality. Instead, you should look at getting yourself a self-destruct email account with a full-fledged end-to-end encrypted email provider.

One such is our CTemplar: Armored Email. 

With CTemplar, you can specify a time at which an email message you’ve sent will auto self-destruct. 

Keep in mind that the self-destruct email feature is only available on CTemplar’s paid plans, but not on the Free plan. 

Also, you can only send a self-destructing email to another CTemplar account. If you are sending an email to, for instance, a Gmail or Yahoo account, the feature is not available.

To activate the self-destruct timer feature on CTemplar:

  1. Start composing a new email.
  2. At the bottom, find the clock icon and click on it to activate the self-destruct feature. Again, this will only be available on paid plans. If you are using a Free plan, it will be greyed out (like here).
  1. A pop-up will appear once you click the icon. Here you can select the time and the date when you want your email to self-destruct.
  2. Then just hit Sent when your email is ready.

After the set time, the email will self-destruct both in your Sent folder and in your recipient’s inbox. 

Also, both you and the recipient will be able to see how much time the email has before it is destroyed.

ctemplar self-destruct email


A self-destructing email is just one of the many features that will be available to you with a CTemplar account and that will help you remain secure and anonymous when sending emails.

If you’d like to send self-destructing emails, sign up for a paid CTemplar account. By becoming our paid plan member, you can also use a Dead Man’s Timer, which allows you to automatically send messages when the timer is up, even if you don’t log in.

In addition, you can schedule the delivery of an email for a specified time with the Delayed Delivery feature.

Ready to get back your privacy? Start using CTemplar now!