How to Send and Open a Confidential Email in Gmail | #emailsecurity

Have you ever sent a confidential email to the wrong person and desperately wished that you could undo the mistake? Or perhaps you wanted to prevent your recipient from downloading, forwarding, or copying the contents of your email but there was no option to do that.

Thanks to the confidential mode in Gmail, all these options are now within your reach.

So what exactly is confidential mode in Gmail? Why should you use it? And how do you send private emails using Google’s mail service?

Why Should You Use Gmail’s Confidential Mode?

google mailbox

Available on both iOS and Android through the Gmail app, as well as its web version, Gmail’s confidential mode is sure to please all the privacy-centric email consumers of today.

Here are some interesting reasons why you should give it a try.

Send Secure Emails With a Passcode

Confidential mode takes your email security to the next level by providing the option of requiring a passcode for your recipients to open your emails.

Essentially, you lock your email with a passcode that can be texted to the recipient and they must provide it in order to open the message.

Set an Expiration Date

Nothing short of a spy movie antic, the confidential mode in Gmail has self-destructive capabilities. The sender can set an expiry date and once it hits that time, the email will expire automatically.

This feature isn’t dependent on the type of email you are sending so can be applied to a document, text, video, picture, or just about anything. The expiration date can be selected for a date of a week, a month, three months, or five years.

Use a Mobile Number to Secure the Email Content

The confidential mode also provides the option to use a mobile number to secure your email content. You can select a contact number and the recipient receives a password to unlock the email.

Note that if you forget the mobile number, there is no other way to open the email.

Stop Recipients From Forwarding or Downloading Emails

The option to forward emails is disabled by default for emails received through confidential mode. The recipients are not allowed to download any attachments unless they provide the passcode.

However, it does not prevent recipients from using malicious programs to download your email attachments.

Prevent Email Content From Getting Copied

Confidential mode does not allow your recipients to copy your emails. However, it doesn’t stop them from taking screenshots or photos of your email content or attachments.

Send Private Emails Across Different Email Providers

It doesn’t matter if your contacts are using a different email provider or platform. Gmail’s confidential mode can send emails privately to all providers and inboxes.

Related: How to Send an Encrypted Email and Increase Your Privacy

How to Send and Receive Emails in Confidential Mode

Have you taken a fancy to Gmail’s confidential mode yet? Now, you need to know how to send and receive an email through this mode.

How to Send a Confidential Email in Gmail

Sign in to your Gmail account like you normally do and click on the Compose button on the top-left.

Write your email, add a recipient, a subject line, and then click on the Confidential mode icon that resembles a padlock with a clock and is located at the bottom of your window.

email gmail confidential

A new pop-up window will appear that will provide you with the option to set an expiry date. Once you set your desired time period, you will be presented with an option to either require a passcode through SMS or not.

If you select No SMS Passcode, then it will be sent to the same email address that you are addressing the email to.

Gmail's Confidential Mode

The bottom of the email will show you the set expiry date. Click Save before sending your message. If you have chosen the SMS passcode option, you will be asked to enter the recipient’s phone number.

confidential mode expiry date

A word of caution: careful you don’t enter the wrong number!

How to Undo a Message You’ve Already Sent

Changed your mind right after sending an email? No worries. The confidential mode lets you easily revoke access or “unsend” the message.

Any confidential email sent always appears in your inbox as well as the Sent folder. To “unsend” the message, click on the confidential email, then click on the message, and then select Remove access.

If your recipient has not yet read the email, then they won’t be able to access it anymore.

How to Open an Email in Confidential Mode

You will open an email sent through Gmail’s confidential mode in the same way as any other email. However, keep these things in mind:

  • You can only view attachments or email content until the expiration date or until the sender removes access.
  • Do not be alarmed if you are not able to copy, paste, download, or forward the emails as they are disabled through the confidential mode.
  • If the recipient has a required passcode for access, then you will need to enter it before being able to read the message or view any attachments.

If you receive an error while trying to view your email, it is likely that the sender has revoked access or deleted the email before the expiration date. The only way around it is to contact the sender to provide the extra time or re-send the email.

Is Gmail’s Confidential Mode Really Secure?

encrypted email

No matter how many privacy options are included in email accounts, they can never be truly secure. This is especially true for webmail services like Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo. Any emails sent out, even using confidential mode, stay in Google’s servers and as such can be accessed by Google if they wanted to.

Also, the passcode option further poses a risk for your recipients as you have to turn over their private phone numbers to Google. Another drawback is that Google’s confidential mode does not offer end-to-end encryption for emails which is required for truly private communication.

If you want your emails to be fully encrypted, the good news is that there are many secure email providers like ProtonMail that secure and encrypt your emails in the best way possible. However, for the interim, if you want something fast, free, and more private than many other email services, Google’s confidential mode is not a bad bet.

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