Gmail gives you the ability to undo just about any action, from the simple like reversing sending an email to your archive folder to bring it back to the inbox, or undoing sending an important email. You can also undo status changes, like labels you have placed on messages or the unread status of a message. Conveniently, most of these are performed the same way, and we will go into detail about the one exception — how to undo sending a message. So without further ado, here’s how to undo in Gmail:
- How to Undo Miscellaneous Actions in Gmail
- How to Undo Sending a Message in Gmail
- How to undo in Gmail using keyboard commands
How to Undo Miscellaneous Actions in Gmail
For almost every action you take in Gmail, Google’s designers provided an easy way to undo in the form of the amber undo message that appears at the top of the screen when you perform just about any action. This message will pop up after an action and gives you the chance to reverse course.
For example, if you delete a message and wish to bring it back, the message at the top of the screen that will appear as soon as you’ve deleted will look like this:
Clicking the undo link will take the message out of the trash folder and put it back where it was before, whether that was the inbox or your archive, etc.
This temporary message will go away after a short period of time, or when you move on and perform other actions in Gmail; it will then reappear when you perform another action. It’s a simple and convenient way to undo something that you did by mistake.
How to Undo Sending a Message in Gmail
Undo-ing the sending of a message, in other words stopping a message that you sent before it goes out, works a little differently. By default, there is no option in Gmail account with default settings to do this — you need to turn this feature on. In order to do so, go into the Gmail Settings under the gear icon ⚙ to the General Settings page, and enable the Undo Send option. In addition to enabling it, you have the option to select how many seconds the timer will give you before it’s no longer possible to undo sending your message.
After enabling, save your setting to confirm them. Now, you will see the same amber-orange alert message every time you send a message, with the option to undo send. At the end of whatever amount of seconds you set, your message will go out and you will not be able to undo sending it anymore, so if you want to undo sending a message in Gmail you need to act quickly. If you are sure you want your message to go out and you feel some anxiety waiting until the undo message disappears, you can refresh your messages in the Inbox, and that will end the undo timer and your message will have been sent.
How to undo in Gmail using keyboard commands
For any action that can be done undone by clicking on the undo link in the amber warning box, you can also undo just by pressing the Z key on the keyboard. The only time this won’t work is if your cursor is currently focused on a text area, like the subject line input or body input of the email composition page. In that case a ‘z’ will appear just as text in the text box. But as long as you aren’t in a text box, Google will register it as a shortcut key. Just as with any Microsoft Office software program or most Windows and Macintosh programs in general, you can use standard keyboard commands to perform undo and redo actions. The keyboard commands will work the same way as pressing the button in the quick access toolbar, making it a very quick way to undo text entry for the pasting of an image, for example. Note that certain actions cannot be undone with either method, such as saving a document.
To undo in Gmail,
- Press Z for undo.
For quick reference, here are some other useful shortcut keys that you can use in Gmail.
Whether you undo using the link in the amber warning box or by pressing the shortcut key, Gmail will pop up a message confirming the action you have reversed.
Important Tips About Undoing Gmail Actions
There are some important exceptions to things that you can undo in Gmail. If you delete a message from your spam folder or your trash, those messages will be gone forever and there is no way to get them back.
If you accidentally moved a message to your spam or trash and you want to put it back in your inbox or archive, you can simply drag the message to the corresponding folder or move it where you desire.
Also note that you only have the option to undo for a certain amount of time — after a little while, the amber warning message will disappear and you won’t have the option to undo anymore, even if you stay on the same page.
Finally, when using the shortcut key, note that it will only undo the very last action. so, pressing it multiple times will not undo multiple previous actions like the way undo works in some desktop applications.