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March 24, 2009

Gmail button eliminates "outbox regret"

New feature lets you take it back

If you sometimes fire off an impulsive email to your boss or your ex, hit send, and then immediately regret it, you are probably the type of person Google had in mind when it came up with the latest feature for its Gmail service.

An "undo" link will now appear next to the confirmation that your email has been sent, Google announced on the Gmail blog last week. The link is active for five seconds after you send the email. During the time, Gmail holds the email instead of sending it right away, just in case you need to take it back.

Michael Leggett, user experience designer for Google, wrote in the blog that he once accidentally sent an email to "the wrong Larry," and that "pushed me over the edge."

"I could undo just about any other action in Gmail — why couldn't I undo send?" he wrote.

Leggett said he chose the five-second window because he thought that would be enough time to catch most "regrettable" emails.

The feature is only available to people who compose their email online through the Gmail website (as opposed to offline email software such as Outlook or Thunderbird) and who have turned it on in their settings under the "lab" tab.

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