Retrieve sent messages in Gmail, delay them in Thunderbird

A new Google Labs tool lets you unsend e-mail you're having second thoughts about, and a Thunderbird extension lets you set the send delay on a message-by-message basis.

Last August, I described how to delay the messages you send from Microsoft Outlook . In that post, I bemoaned the lack of a similar feature in Gmail. Well, Google engineer Yuzo Fujishima comes to the rescue with a new tool called Undo Send, though unlike Outlook's send-delay feature, in Gmail, you have to act--or unact--fast.

To activate the feature, open Gmail, click Settings in the top-right corner, and choose the Labs tab. If you don't see a Labs tab, click more in the top-left menu, select even more, click the Labs link at the top right, choose Gmail Labs. Scroll to Undo Send, click Enable, and select Save Changes.

This feature isn't a miracle worker; it can pull back a message only in the first 5 seconds after you click Send. Still, many an e-mail "Oops!" comes to mind in that split second after you send it.

The Undo option appears for about 5 seconds in the "Your message has been sent" message at the top of your in-box.

Gmail Labs' Undo Send option
When you use the Undo Send option from Gmail Labs, you have about 5 seconds to retrieve a message you just sent. Google

If you click Undo in time, your message is yanked from the outbound queue and you see a message informing you that the send was undone.

Gmail Labs' Undo Send notice that the message was successfully retrieved
If your sent message was successfully retrieved, you see an alert to that effect. Google

Clearly, the Gmail Undo Send feature doesn't give you anywhere near the level of control you get when delaying sent messages in Outlook, but Gmail's version is much simpler to implement.

The Send Later extension for the Mozilla Foundation's Thunderbird e-mail client provides a similar function. Unfortunately, several people report problems using Send Later with the latest version 2.0.0.21 of Thunderbird. The extension appeared to work as advertised on my Vista PC, however.

Send Later extension for Mozilla Thunderbird
The Send Later extension for Mozilla Thunderbird lets you delay your outgoing messages by the amount of time you prefer. talk2sk
To activate Send Later, press Ctrl-Shift-Enter when you've finishing composing the message. In the "Send this email later" dialog box that opens, select the time you want the message sent using the drop-down menus at the top of the window, or click one of the three preset delays: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours.

If only everything we do on a computer had a "do-over" button!

About the author

    Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.

     

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