How to recall a Gmail email

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Have you ever sent an email only to realize later that you made a critical mistake? We've all been there! The good news is that Gmail offers a feature called Undo Send that allows you to recall the email within 30 seconds of sending it. If you're quick enough, you can recall a Gmail email, make the necessary changes, and then resend your new message with confidence.

However, there are times when you can miss this brief window and regret sending a bad letter. In this article, you'll learn not only how to unsend an email on Gmail but also how to stop accidentally sending emails that could cause you embarrassment.

How to recall an email in Gmail and retrieve messages on the browser

Can you unsend an email you sent in Gmail? Yes and no. Let us explain. 

Gmail's Undo Send feature only delays the email – it doesn't actually wipe up your message from the recipient's inbox if it's already been delivered. 

In other words, if you set the send delay to 30 seconds, Gmail won't actually send the message until 30 seconds after you hit the Send button. You can then use those 30 seconds to decide to cancel the sending of that email.

Here's how to customize Undo Send:

  1. Open the browser of your choice.
  2. Go to mail.google.com.
  3. When in Gmail, click the gear icon at the top right corner of the window.
  4. Click See all settings.

    Gmail all settings

  5. Under General, make sure the Undo Send section has a time specified. 
  6. You can now customize the cancellation period to your liking (5, 10, 20, and 30 seconds).

    Set up cancellation period

  7. Next, go to the bottom of the Settings menu and click the Save changes button.

As you can see, there's not much you have to do to unsend an email in Gmail on the web except act fast. After you compose and send an email, a pop-up notification appears in the bottom left corner of your screen, telling you that the message has been sent. Quickly click the Undo button to unsend/recall a Gmail email.

undo send in Gmail for up to 30 seconds

Your unsent email should now appear as a draft on your screen. Adjust your message accordingly and send it, or delete it instead.

How to unsend an email on iPhone or iPad

With the iOS version of the Gmail app, you can change your mind and recall an email, too.

After you compose and send an email in Gmail, all you have to do is tap Undo in the lower-right corner of the app screen to retrieve your email. Just like on the web, this Undo option appears immediately after you send an email.

undo send in iPhone Gmail for up to 30 seconds

Unfortunately, the iOS app doesn't allow you to configure the cancellation time, so you must do this in the web version. We provided the steps to follow in the above section.

How to recall an email in Gmail on Mac

The answer to the question of how to recall an email on a Mac depends on which email client you use. Many people prefer a web version, but those who don't trust browsers should choose some apps. 

The most obvious choice is the pre-installed Mail app. Its icon is pinned to the Dock, so you just need to click on it. The app is convenient and quite simple. And it syncs with your Gmail when your Mac is connected to Wi-Fi. So you don't risk missing anything.

How to recall an email if you use Apple Mail?

The principle is the same as in the web version of Gmail:

  1. In Mail on your Mac, within 10 seconds of sending an email, click Undo Send at the bottom of the sidebar (or choose Edit > Undo).
  2. To change the amount of time you have to unsend an email or to turn off Undo Send, choose Mail > Settings, click Composing, click the Undo send delay pop-up menu, then choose an option.

    Undo send delay in Mail

Unfortunately, this feature is only available in the latest versions of MacOS — Ventura and Sonoma. If you don't have a Mac upgraded to these versions, you won't be able to cancel an email after you've hit send.


Another great feature is the ability to save reusable emails as templates. This eliminates the need for repetitive copy-pasting or typing, making it more efficient to send similar emails in the future. Finally, Canary Mail's powerful natural language search engine makes it easy to find specific emails, even if you don't remember the exact details. 

What to do to avoid sending emails by mistake

Mistakes happen to everyone. And when it comes to emails, sometimes, you can send your message to the wrong recipient or forget to add attachments. Thanks to Gmail's Undo Send feature, you can easily unsend your email if you realize your mistake immediately.

But sometimes, you can write an emotional email or make many mistakes in it. In both cases, you can realize it too late when the Undo Send isn't functional anymore. That's why it's important to know and follow some rules.

Rule 1: Never send the emotional letter

It's better not to send an email when you're feeling extremely emotional. You risk saying things you'll regret. If someone's email makes you feel angry, anxious, or euphoric, wait until the next day to reply. 

When you do respond, reread your draft as if you were in the other person's shoes. Also, we recommend you try Spark Mail's AI assistant. With its help, you can quickly change the tone of the text to be more friendly or formal. On top of that, the app can summarize, rephrase, expand, or shorten your text. 

Spark Mail's Al assistant to rephrase email

If you choose Spark Mail as your preferred email client, keep in mind that it, just like Gmail, has the Undo feature. If you've sent an email that you'd like to recall or unsend, you just need to click a button as soon as possible.

Rule 2: Write a plan

If you send a work email, it probably has some purpose. Perhaps you want to get a colleague's opinion on your project, submit a budget for approval, or notify employees about changes in the work schedule. No matter what message you want to convey, make a brief outline. You can use sticky notes, a notepad, or the notes app. Your plan might look like this:

  • Send files A, B, and C.
  • Ask for an opinion about a new project.
  • Specify the deadline for making changes.
  • Remind them about the upcoming meeting.

Such a plan will organize the thoughts in your head and help you not to forget a single important detail.

Rule 3: Proofread your emails

Before sending an email, it's crucial to read it again for clarity, typos, grammar, and style. If you struggle with catching errors, try reading your message out loud, as it helps you notice missed words or sentences.

To make things even easier, you can use AI-powered apps like Plus to instantly and accurately proofread your emails. Plus works in any app and offers features like summarizing, explaining, translating, and proofreading. It's a great tool for quickly scanning your emails for typos without any distractions.

Summarize with Plus

Rule 4: Write an email apologizing for sending a message by mistake 

If you send an email in error and unfortunately can't recall it, it is not a good idea to just leave everyone in the dark. The right thing to do, and the thing that could save your reputation, is to send an email apologizing for the mistake. This can make recipients acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes and appreciate the extra effort you put into apologizing.

Unsend Gmail email and improve your email experience with Setapp

We have all had moments where we immediately regretted hitting the Send button. But now you have all the tools in your arsenal to recall Gmail emails and avoid sending the wrong message. 

Try Canary Mail as a great Gmail alternative that you can use on a desktop. 

And if you want to improve your emails (like their tone, grammar, clarity, etc.), you may want to take advantage of such apps as Spark Mail and Plus. On top of that, we recommend you Ready to Send for generating draft replies with AI. Good news: all four apps are available to you at no cost through a seven-day trial of Setapp.

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