New ‘Undo’ Feature a Godsend for Gmail Users Who Regret Hitting ‘Send’

June 24, 2015 Updated: June 24, 2015

TORONTO—It might be called “send regret”—that panic that sets in after firing off an email or text that you suddenly realize was inappropriate, addressed to the wrong person, or just plain wrong.

Google is trying to save Gmail users from their own misguided missives by granting them a window of sober second thought.

Gmail users can now add the “undo send” feature to their accounts and give themselves up to 30 seconds to recall an ill-conceived email.

“‘Undo’ has saved my bacon professionally and personally more than once,” Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle enthused Wednesday, June 24.

Google is trying to save Gmail users from their own misguided missives by granting them a window of sober second thought.

“I’ve been known to press send a little too quickly. Sometimes, it’s as simple as fixing a typo or making sure you’re not replying-all, which can be awkward.”

The feature has been available to beta-testers of Gmail since 2009 and proved so popular that Google decided to roll it out this week for all its 900 million-plus users worldwide. It has also been an option for users of “Inbox,” an enhanced Gmail application.

“I think everybody is kind of vulnerable to this,” Brindle said of fretting after a fast-fingered click on the send button.

“Anything we can do to alleviate those sudden moments of panic when you’re using one of our products is a good thing.”

Users can choose a delay of 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds before a message is sent out and cannot be retracted.

“For me personally, I’m a 30-seconds guy,” Brindle said. “I need to reflect on it sometimes. Five seconds can be a little bit tight.”

Once “send” is pressed on an email, a yellow bar appears at the top of the screen, saying the message has been sent and offering the option to undo that transmission.

“Undo send” is a welcome Gmail addition for Murray Rowe of Toronto, who enabled the feature after hearing about it on TV.

When Rowe wished he could have recaptured delivered emails in the past, it wasn’t because of the content of the communication, but how he’d phrased it.

“I’d just press send and then reconsider the tone,” said Rowe, 40, who left the community services sector to pursue social work studies at George Brown College.

“That’s probably 99 percent of the time when I’ll use it, when I’m like: ‘Oh, that tone was a bit too assertive, too direct.
On a professional level, I would say there were times where I’d think:
‘This is going into a file. Could that tone be misinterpreted?'”

And like Brindle, Rowe also opted for a half-minute window to linger over second thoughts about the email being sent.

“Five seconds is not a lot of time.”