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23 June 2015updated 24 Jun 2015 11:36am

Gmail now lets you unsend emails

Google adds the feature to its email service after trialling it for six years. 

By Barbara Speed

Today in “saving us from ourselves” news: Gmail has finally brought in a permanent feature which allows you to unsend emails.

The feature is now an optional setting on the web version and app. For those that turn it on, the service will now delay sending mail for up to 30 seconds, in order to give you time to change your mind. The feature has actually been languishing in Google’s “labs” – where it tests new features – for six years, but as of this week will appear automatically in all users’ settings.

To turn it on, click on the gear symbol in the top right hand corner of the screen, then select the window of time you think you need. Finally, click “save changes” at the bottom of the page:

Whenever you send emails from now on, the “sent” notification will also ask if you’d like to undo the message.

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Of course, this development could spell the end for a certain brand of viral news: the email blunder. Here are a few people who probably wish the feature was introduced a little earlier:

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  • The academic administrator who sent out a list of the 50 worst-performing students to an entire Oxford college. 
  • The receptionist who accidentally forwarded a racy exchange with her boyfriend to the entire office. She was just trying to tell them that the sandwich van had arrived. 
  • The US Navy Commander who accidentally sent hundreds of secret Pentagon documents to a British schoolgirl. 
  • You, probably, at one time or another. 

A new era of grace and decorum has arrived, folks.