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Gmail’s Undo Send Isn’t Really Undo, Just Like Multiple Inboxes Were Not Really Multiple Inboxes

First of all, I love Gmail, it’s my one-and-only email system.  And I’m certainly glad to see the ever accelerating rate of enhancements, whether “official” or just the Labs variety.  But oh, please, can we have some control here and call features what they really are?

First there was the multiple inboxes announcement.  Nice. Except that it wasn’t. Multiple inboxes, that is. Think about it: that would defy logic – unless we’re talking about handling multiple email accounts, which is clearly not the case with Gmail.  This feature is multi-pane viewing – no more, no less.

Today we’re getting another new feature: Undo Send. Except that it really isn’t. Undo Send, that is.

Undo Send is what Outlook has offered for ages: you can actually recall a message that had already been sent, provided the recipient has not opened it yet, and you’re both on Exchange.  What Gmail offers now is a momentary delay of 5 seconds, during which you may just realize you’re emailing the wrong Smith or Brown, and hit the panic Undo button. It’s not really undo, since the message was never sent in the first place – Gmail was holding it for 5 seconds, if you had enabled this option.

Of course, as just about all TechCrunch commenters note, 5 seconds is not enough, the delay might as well be configurable.  Something like this:

Oh, I forgot.  It’s from that other Web-mail system (the one that actually has multiple inboxes, too).

UpdateMG Siegler over @ VentureBeat agrees this is not real  unsend,  and he remembers AOL had a real unsend/recall feature, just like the Exchange theme I described above.

Update #2:  Oh, please… per Wired, Google already plans configurability, but all you get to pick is 5 or 10 seconds.

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Comments

  1. ..except for Outlook, the recall never works…receiver always gets the mail with a request shown as recall.

    i hope this one works better with gmail.

    BR

  2. Michael Leggett says:

    Allowing infinite recall gets you caught in a situation where you ether

    a) expose who has read a message (“could not recall from user x b/c they already read the message”) or

    b) you lie to the sender (“sure, we’ll recall this message”) or

    c) you just confuse / scare the sender (“we recalled this message for some people… but not for anyone who already read it or anyone not on gmail”).

    My experience has been that very often you realize your mistake immediately after hitting send. We built Undo Send for that situation.

    If you realize you forgot an attachment a couple hours later. You should probably just send another email. Gmail will thread that new email with the original to make it easier for people to find the missing attachment when they open the thread.

  3. On Google’s ‘announcements’, SearchWiki comes to mind ;)

  4. Pete Austin says:

    @Michael Leggett
    My experience is the same. Quite a few users spot errors immediately after hitting send. That’s why I introduced a similar short delay to my system (smartFOCUS eChannel) almost ten years ago. The difficult part is fine-tuning the delay, because customers hate any wait *unless* it just saved them from making a mistake. IMO ten seconds is a bit too short, and maybe it should vary with message length.

  5. May it is not that what the name promises to do.But i think it is a useful feature.Because you really realize that something is wrong in most times after hitting the send button.So it is good to have an emergency brake option.

    Regards

  6. This feature is very helpful,if we can configure time we can hold email for 1 minute that will be more than useful.

  7. would you rather have a badly named but delivered feature or a nicely named product ahem Fusion but no feature? :)

  8. Here’s a funny story from New York Magazine on a case when email recall would have been a life-saver, but it didn’t work:

    OH MY F’ING GOD ….so I sent out my resume when I was at work, and consciously I know NEVER to cc my group (obv) eventhough I always CC my group on all business related emails, but for some reason my subconcious kicked in and I did it! I yelled at my group “EVERYONE delete the last email I just sent”, which clearly translated to my team that they should all immediately look at it. While I was shaking uncontrollably I tried recalling the message, and it did absofinglutely NOTHING! PEOPLE, RECALL DOES NOT WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The way I reccuperated…went to paragon got a pair of spin shoes, and moved on, what else can you do besides curse outlook all freaking day?

    By KSolchouler on 03/05/2009 at 1:09pm

     

  9. I just love this gmail feature

  10. ahuh. now i know. but still, google undo is useful.

  11. Marc Savoy says:

    The title of your post says it all perfectly.

  12. should i dump outlook express in favour of gmail?? and how can you undo something that has already ” gone down the pipe” so to speak :)

  13. we know that Mr.G always have a great idea with their service, but not all the idea will acceptable for all.

  14. I really like this feature. I have used it a multiple times, as I have a quick trigger finger. It has saved me a number of times from having to send a correction email. Delay period is just right for me.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] First of all, I love Gmail, it’s my one-and-only email system. And I’m certainly glad to see the ever accelerating rate of enhancements, whether “official” or just the Labs variety. But oh, please, can we have some control here and call features what they really are?[From Gmail’s Undo Send Isn’t Really Undo, Just Like Multiple Inboxes Were Not Really Multiple Inboxes...] [...]

  2. [...] we are at this topic, I want to point out to Zoli’s post on the topic in his personal blog. He points out to a similar feature that has been existing for a long time in [...]

  3. [...] course, Gmail isn’t the only email platform that offers such a feature, as others are pointing out. Nonetheless, everything Google does attract attention and I wouldn’t be surprised if other [...]

  4. [...] It’s nice to be able to take a step back your email with undo.  Of course, some argue that Gmail doesn’t have an undo feature but a delayed sending option. [...]

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