How to Send a Confidential Email in Gmail

Confidential Mode, a feature in Gmail, lets you send a confidential email.

So, What is a Confidential Email?

The confidential email is an email in which you can set an expiration date. If you wish, you can remove access of the recipient before the assigned expiry date too.

Not only that, confidential email can’t be copied, forwarded, printable, and downloaded (However, when I try to forward using Yandex Mail, it got forwarded).

Forwarded confidential email

Moreover, it has some other downsides too. The recipient can take a screenshot of the confidential email. Also, the recipient may download messages and attachments using malicious software.

With that said, let’s see the steps to send a confidential email in Gmail.

Send a Confidential Email in Gmail

Sign in to your Gmail account. Hit the “Compose” button and compose your email.

Beside “Insert photo,” you can see “Confidential mode” (Lock with the Clock icon). Hit it.

In the popup, under “Set Expiration,” you can see a drop-down list.

Open it, and you can see the list of durations. The durations are – Expires in 1 day, Expires in 1 week, Expires in 1 month, Expires in 3 months, and Expires in 5 years. Pick the one you want.

You can also set the passcode for the email if you wish.

Select No SMS passcode (It means the recipient can view the email as usual if he is a Gmail user; If he is a non-Gmail user, he can see the “View the email” button in the email. After he clicks it, he can see the “Send Passcode” button. After he hit it, he’ll receive the passcode to his email address which he needs to input to view the email). 


Select SMS passcode (It means passcode is needed to view email which is sent to the recipient via text if he is a Gmail user. If he is a non-Gmail user, he can see the “View the email” button in the email. After he clicks it, he can see the “Send Passcode” button. Once he hit that, the passcode will be sent to him as text. He needs to input that to view the email). In this instance, I chose the “SMS passcode.”

Confidential mode popup

Hit the “Save” button in the popup.

Now, you can see the preview of the confidential email setting before the formatting toolbar. Hit “Edit” in the preview if you want to make any changes.

Preview of the confidential email settings

Click on the “Send” button.

In the popup, you need to enter the phone number of the recipient. Input it and then hit the “Send” button.

Confirm phone numbers popup

That’s it. All done.

The email will expire at the chosen period. However, if you want to revoke access earlier, open the confidential email you’ve sent and then hit “Remove access.” If you want to renewal access, click the “Renew access” which you can find in the “Remove access” place.

Let’s see how the things will go on the recipient end (Gmail user) in our instance.

When the recipient opens the email, he can’t see the body of the email and instead of it, he views the “Send passcode” button. Once he hit that button, he’ll receive a text with the passcode.

Send passcode button

He needs to enter that passcode in the email and then have to click on the “Submit” button.

Submit button

Once he did that, he can see the email along with the expiration date.

Body of the confidential email

Remember that he can reply to the confidential email. Moreover, the reply is also a confidential email by default for which he can revoke access (It is in the case of Gmail. But, in the Yandex Mail case, it is not).

He can edit the confidential email settings, and he can reply to it as regular email by disabling confidential mode (Hit “Confidential mode” for that).

Also, note that the reply will not contain the sender’s email body content.

Send Confidential Email in Gmail for Android

The Gmail confidential mode works on Gmail for Android too. Let’s see the steps to use it.

Open the Gmail app.

Hit the “+” at the bottom. Compose the email.

Tap the overflow menu (three vertical dots) at the top and then the “Confidential mode” option.

Confidential mode option

Now, choose the expiration and select the passcode (Standard or SMS passcode). Hit the “Save” option at the top.

Confidential email settings in Gmail app

Send the email by clicking the “Send” icon at the top.

If you’ve selected “Standard” as the passcode, the email will be sent. Otherwise, you can see a popup that asks you to enter the phone number of the recipient. Hit “Add missing information” option, enter the phone number and then hit “Done.”

Missing information popup
Entered phone number

Now, hit the “Send” icon.

To know more details about confidential email, check the above section (web version section).