back to article Google presses 'send' on 'undo send' – AT LAST

Google has decreed that the “Undo Send” feature in Gmail, which it first unveiled in Gmail Labs in 2009, is ready to go mainstream. Gmail Labs' original Undo Send option gave hot-heads five seconds for the transition from fury to regret. That's been changed in the general availability version, which lets +Inbox users give …

  1. gerdesj Silver badge


    I expect that someone will attempt to create a RFC for email along these lines. We could add it to the mayhem of SPF, DKIM and DMARC - all great ideas but flawed due to one small problem (well several actually).

    Email wasn't constrained in any way from birth - it wasn't necessary to lock it down when it was invented. Then it became ubiquitous. Now we have a bit of a spam problem and things like alphabet soup were deployed to combat it. Unfortunately the vast majority of users are content with a background noise of crap with unpleasant oases of serious shit - phishing, etc etc.

    So: SPF - can work but inadequately used, usually ends up as ?all or ~all instead of the useful -all. DKIM: Can be useful, broken by some mail lists and bad use of relaying. DMARC: well engineered, could have been brilliant but breaks mail lists (unless they all change marginally in their method of distribution) p=meh.


    Back OT: Carefull when you hit send and be even more careful who is doing the sending on your behalf.

  2. Rafael 1


    Love the "half message" shown in the picture. Was it from Malcolm Tucker?

    1. Antonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Picture

      ...but why doesn't the "hero picture" include any of the "undo send" UI that is the subject of the article?

  3. Shannon Jacobs

    Six years to come up with a better idea? FAIL.

    Not a terrible idea, but a terribly slow implementation and it could be so much better, too. If it isn't the EVIL that's rotting their brains, there's something else going wrong at the google.

    Rather than a specialized Unto feature, imagine a general future-mail feature. For the undo function, you provide a setting to make the default delivery time later than the send time. In my own case, I'd actually prefer to have a 5-minute delay, but 30 seconds is not long enough to be especially helpful. If you think faster or slower, your mileage (and setting time) may differ. In that version, you just put it as a delay in the Outbox, and opening the Outbox will freeze the sending (with a warning, of course) and allow you to view any undelivered email. Again, it should be controlled by a user setting, but I'd recommend the default be something like an "Undo-able" button or "Unsend" option when there is pending email, and the click just takes you to the Outbox.

    Now for the generalization: I want a "considerate delivery" option. That would consider whether or not the email is likely to be rude or inconsiderate, based on rules that I can control for my recipients. If I know that someone receives email on their smartphone, then I would prefer that non-urgent email not be delivered at 3 in the morning in their time zone because it might wake them up. Is it routine work-related email? Then I'd prefer it not be delivered until working hours. I don't want to contribute to work/life imbalance.

    Another generalization would be for tickler use to support the Calendar, sending yourself (or someone) a future reminder to make sure some task has been handled. Various others, but the real point is that general tools are better.

    Of course, if the google wasn't EVIL, then they would have offered the generalized tool to break the spammers' business models. Same as it ever was, the main problem with email remains the spam. Obviously, I lost my warm and fuzzy feeling about the google.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Six years to come up with a better idea? FAIL.

      Your are asking about rocket science from someone who does not understand the concept of MX and basic mail delivery for crying out loud (and no gmail does not - I have logs to prove it). Some seriously tall order for that lot.

      Theoretically google should be able to do all of that - it should be able to analyze email language, it knows in which timezone is the recipient (it keeps track of last logins geographically for security reasons), etc. Practically - if it was the old Google which had ~ 7k people on board it would have done it in a few weeks. The sprawling "umpa-lumpah, have a free bike to ride between buildings, free coffee on the house, free oil change on the house, etc" bunch of clowns of today - not a chance.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    Previous mail system

    Our previous system before being forced to migrate to gmail, could unsend from within our domain, which was great for gas-lighting someone! Really, it was nice. Forgot the attachment(who hasn't) unsend the message go to drafts open it and attach and send.

    Or you could have the post it note a colleague use to have on his monitor:

    Calm before replies!

  5. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    The simple answer... the "Are you sure?" button which appears after you press the "Send" button. This will be configurable so that you can have an "Are you really sure?" button. If you have mild OCD then an "Are you really really sure?" button can give an extra opportunity for a re-think. For those with more serious problems there's a place down the road called a Post Office. Just don't buy postage or envelopes in advance, By the time you've queued 20 minutes to buy a stamp I can guarantee that you will be committed to sending your message.

    1. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

      Re: The simple answer...

      Can you send email from the post office? Is this "postage" thing that you buy an anti-spam measure?

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: The simple answer... @Anthony Hegedus

        HashCash would appear to have been a viable Anti-Spam email metaphor for going down the Post Office. The sender performs work in generating a string of characters which embody the recipient's email address in it, which represents a significant effort to email this specific person, although there is no monetary value for sending the email, unlike the 63p required by the Royal Mail.

        Because the recipient's email address is contained within the resultant string it is easy for the recipient to prove that the calculation has not been used before, and there is an expiry timestamp built-in which means that the storage of old expended signatures past their expiry date is not required. Sounds like a great idea, but it seems to have not gained widespread enough acceptance to have caught on.

  6. sad_loser

    Thank you Malcolm

    I think there is a generation of us who have learned the hard way and who now always double check.

    The biggest danger I find is colleagues who will forward stuff that is obviously confidential to the least suitable person

    I would like a non-forwardable self-destructing email and although it would be possible to screenshot, most people are not capable of doing this.

    Agree - nice MT reference

    It is so hard to get a leadership mentor these days, but with virtual leadership coaches like David Brent and Malcolm Tucker, the NHS is safe in my hands.

    my personal favourite - Malcolm doing some career counselling. ( NSFW, but this was a broadcast BBC show!)

  7. Doctor_Wibble

    A "Queue for Sending" instead of "Send"?

    Call the button "queue for sending" instead of "send" and have it do a configurable (within reason) timeout or to launch it all when you log out. Did this not exist previously or in other mail systems for a while now? Seems a bit anciently familiar and not just from company-internal Exchange.

    For any environment where it matters, you should be re-reading emails and correcting them before sending them out in any case.

    I do this and still make mistakes but if there is no latitude for smoothing over a mistake then either the recipient is a difficult contact (and my fault for reckless typing) or what I typed was unforgivably offensive, in which case I should be fired anyway.

    Corporate mail setups will probably end up counting the number of times someone does 'undo send' and maybe even having such 'undone' messages filed in the HR Ammo folder to be used as evidence in three years time when they want to 'efficientise' your department.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: A "Queue for Sending" instead of "Send"?

      But that doesn't work.

      Fact is that the "O-shit-what-have-I-done" detector inside your brain only gets triggered after you have actually done it. So "queue for sending" doesn't turn that detector on. Only when you actually send all the queued messages out, that's when your brain reacts and that's too late.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: A "Queue for Sending" instead of "Send"?

      If you use Outlook you can get it to stay in the Outbox forever. This is the factory default option for certain versions of Outlook.

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