I Just Saved Your Job – Undo Your Email Send


bad email send. I wish I could unsend that email to the bossWe all have on the top of our wish list a magic button we can use to retrieve an email we sent prematurely. Believe it or not, its now possible, and if you’re reading this, I may have just saved your job. Thank you Google!
You received an email from your boss, friend or friend and quickly responded out of passion and click send, then shortly after realized your should have given yourself a grace period before sending. Within minutes, you get a reply demanding that you explain your response. Sound familiar? More and more this happens where people don’t take the time to wait to collect their thoughts before sending…or perhaps drafted the email but accidentally hit the send button.

Google has finally launched a ‘band-aid’ solution to this. Launched in beta back in March 2009, Google’s gmail launched a new feature to allow its users to defer the send of emails. Enabling this will give you the time you should need to retract the email you fired off.

We live in a fast paced world where email was supposed to cut down our work load and time. Conversely, the email technology has tripled our work load and time and now fully consumes us in the office, at home and on the go through our cell phones, black berries and iPhones. With the abundance of email we receive and respond to every day, and our demands to respond immediately, there has never been a need more than now for a tool such as this.

Even on the legal front, a tool to undo your email send can be a lifesaver. For example, an office worker who works for Patrick Fitzgerald, a U.S. Attorney in Chicago, sent an e-mail to the media that contained the names of 24 confidential witnesses involved in a federal probe.

In October of 2007, the U.S. House’s Committee on the Judiciary released the names of 150 whistleblowers who sent in tips about abuses at the Department of Justice.

In 2006, the Director of Admissions at the UC Berkley Law School accidentally sent out letters of acceptance to all 7,000 students who applied to the school that year. A very efficient way of notifying students on being accepted – except only 800 students should have received the congratulatory letter.

These are just three examples, however I don’t think its necessary to outline these as I’m sure everyone at some point in time has gone through a similar situation of sending an email that they wish they could retracted and delete or rewrite.

You have to do a risk analysis on these types of potential breaches to see what it would cost to prevent them. Just keep in mind what it would cost in lawsuits and losses to your organization’s reputation if they did occur. I am cautiously hitting the send key now.

For people who use Gmail, you’ll be pleasantly surprised you have the option now to defer your email sends as a level of protection if you should ever need to cancel or retract your email send. Thank you Google Labs and especially Yuzo Fugishima for this tool.

Googles gmail Undo Send

To test out this the Undo Send tool in Gmail, once logged into your Gmail account visit the Google Labs settings area to enable this feature. Scroll down the page about 3/4 the way down and look for ‘Undo Send’. Enable this and your set. Unfortunately we don’t see a means to better tailor this feature such as setting a deferral rate or time for emails…but this is beta, what do you expect.

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