How to Use Gmail's Confidential Mode

Set your emails to self-destruct using Gmail and the Gmail App

When you want to send emails that contain private information, use confidential mode in Google Gmail to send messages that automatically disappear after a specified amount of time. Gmail confidential mode also prevents recipients from forwarding, copying, printing, or downloading the message contents. Confidential emails can be sent to other Gmail users or those who use a different platform such as Outlook, iCloud, or Yahoo.

How to Use Confidential Mode to Send Emails in Gmail

If you use the official Gmail website to send emails, use the confidential mode in the compose window.

  1. Select Compose.

    The Compose button in Gmail
  2. At the bottom of the compose window, select the Confidential Mode icon (the lock with a clock on it).

    The Confidential Mode icon in Gmail
  3. Choose when the message will expire, then select Save. Your options are one day, one week, one month, three months, and five years.

    The Set Expiration menu in Gmail
  4. For extra security, select SMS passcode to require recipients to enter a code sent in a text message to their device before they can open the email.

    The "Require Passcode" option in Gmail Confidential Mode
  5. Click Save to return to your email with the settings you chose.

    The Save button for Gmail Confidential Mode
  6. Write your email and send it as usual.

How to Use Confidential Mode in the Gmail App

If you compose emails on the go with the Gmail mobile app for either iOS or Android, you can also quickly send confidential content while in confidential mode.

  1. Select Compose.

  2. Select the More icon (the three horizontal dots).

  3. Select Confidential mode.

    Compose, More, and Confidential Mode options in the Gmail app
  4. Tap the link under Set expiration to pick a time before the message deletes. Your options are one day, one week, one month, three months, and five years.

  5. Choose an option under Require passcode to add more security to the message; when this feature is on, Google will generate a passcode the recipient must enter to read the email.

  6. Tap the Check mark (or Send) to save and return to the composition screen.

    Confidential mode options in the Gmail app
  7. Compose the email, and then select Send.

    Tap Edit after returning to your message to change the expiration date.

How to Open a Confidential Email in Gmail

If you use Gmail, open a confidential email the same way you open a regular email on the website or mobile app. If the email requires a passcode, you'll receive a text message with the code.

If you're not a Gmail user, follow the confidential email link to request a passcode. Then, enter the passcode found in the text message sent to your device to view the message's contents.

While Google has placed precautions in their system to prevent confidential emails from spreading, receivers may take a screenshot of the information or use malicious software to bypass security restrictions. Take caution when sending any private data over the internet.

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