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How to stop an email that you have just sent in Gmail

Email, it is often said, is like the arrow that has left the bow, or the bullet that has left the gun – it cannot be brought back once it is released into the infinite wilderness of the World Wide Web.

Does it happen that immediately after sending the email you realize that you should not have sent it yet? Do you wish that there was some way you can stop the email that you have just sent midway so that you can altogether abandon the idea of sending it, or modify it further? Or maybe the email intended for your girlfriend mistakenly was sent to your wife (or an email intended for your boyfriend mistakenly was sent to your husband). Whatever is the case, within a particular limit, you can undo the email you have just sent in Gmail. Yes, Gmail allows you to stop an email from going to the recipient even if you have clicked the “Send” button.

The feature that allows you to recall the email that you have just sent is already present in Gmail, it is just that you have to activate it. For this to happen, click on the “Settings” (that looks like a gear) icon on the right-hand side near the top, while you are logged into your Gmail account.

A further drop-down menu gives you different options; click “Settings” again. You are taken to a choice of tabs labeled as “General”, “Labels”, “Inbox”, and so on. One of such tabs is “Labs” where Gmail developers put all the latest tools they are toying with so that you can test them out even as they are not available as integral Gmail tools. Click “Labs” and scroll down until you reach this portion:

In case you want to “Enable” it, check the appropriate radio button and then click “Save Changes”.

This section, although, activates the Gmail undo feature, it does not yet allow you to set the time interval within which you can cancel the sending of an email. After you have clicked “Save Changes” you will most probably be redirected to the inbox.

Again click the gearbox icon and then click “Settings” and this time go to the “General” tab if you are not already there (you must be). Scroll down (if you need to) unless you come across this particular section:

This is where you get to decide for how many seconds Gmail must hold your message before it is sent. Suppose you set 30 seconds. This means if within those 30 seconds if you click “Undo”, the sending of your email will be cancelled. The upper limit is yet 30 seconds because maybe it’s been observed that it is within these 30 seconds that people mostly realize that they should not have sent the email they have just sent. And maybe it is some server limitation. As far as this feature goes, you cannot set Gmail to undo the email sending beyond 30 seconds.

Above explained is a feature that is available in Gmail itself and this can help you stop an email that you have just sent, even for just a period of 30 seconds.

If you are looking for an external plug-in, you can try out Boomerang for Gmail. It is a browser extension available for all major browsers that allows you to send your emails later in Gmail so that in case you want to cancel sending them, you have got plenty of time to do that.