How Gmail Confidential Mode Works

Gmail is the service of email most used in the world. Free, rich in functionality, and of course integrated with Google services over the years it has received some interesting updates, such as the ability to cancel sending in case you have changed your mind, a new layout for the Web version, and the confidential mode.

Arrived years ago, this feature is not very well known, but it helps to protect sensitive information by setting an expiration date, and a password and even allowing you to subsequently revoke access to e-mail. So let’s see what it is and how Gmail confidential mode works in 2022what are its benefits, the risks, and how to send or read such emails.

What is Gmail confidential mode

Every day we send e-mails, sometimes we are wrong and if we’re fast enough we can cancel sending but what if we are dealing with sensitive information?

Messaging apps like Telegram or Whatsapp have self-destructing messages or those visible only once but for e-mail?

Gmail was introduced a few years ago for this reason the confidential mode which allows you to manage the information sent via email by setting an Expiration date for the message or by requesting the recipient to authenticate your identity before opening.

Note that this function does not necessarily add a higher level of security or privacy to your emails, as it does not use particular email protocols, but hosts the emails on a Google server. So actually confidential mode emails aren’t emailed properly as the recipients do not receive a message, but a link to click which allows them to read what you have sent. This mode allows you to protect sensitive information from accidental sharing or without your consent.

Gmail confidential mode: advantages

In confidential mode, you can:

  • Set one Expiration date for the message
  • Revoke access to messages at any time
  • Request a verification code via SMS to open messages

The recipients will not be able to copy, forward, print, or download these e-mails.

Gmail confidential mode
Gmail confidential mode

This all sounds great, right? Sure, but let’s also consider the disadvantages.

Gmail confidential mode: disadvantages

There are some disadvantages to consider when using confidential mode:

  • Emails cannot be scheduled
  • As we have seen for the WhatsApp messages that can only be read once nothing prevents recipients from taking screenshots And forwarding them or some malicious apps to copy or download them (with their attachments).
  • Another problem, perhaps more serious, concerns user data. Google has not clarified how these emails are stored, or how long they keep them on their servers. For example, if you want them to disappear after one day, the recipient will no longer be able to access them after 24 hours, but Google? The assumption is that it remains available forever, which could pose problems. Furthermore, if you use the code via SMS, Google will also have a telephone number associated with a user, who is not sure what will happen to him.
  • The last drawback relates to a recipient that does not use Gmail. In this case, it will receive a link to be accessed via a browser, a rather cumbersome practice, in addition to the fact that, as we always recommend on these pages, you must be sure of the sender of the message before clicking on it.
Content Expire
Content Expire

This is to say that confidential mode is one instrument that we can use, but well aware of your limits.

How Gmail confidential mode works

Now that we have defined What is there confidential mode of Gmail and considered carefully benefits And disadvantages, we see how it work.

Send an email in confidential mode from the web

Send an email in confidential mode from the web version of Gmail (which has just received a new design) it’s very simple.

  1. Start a browser and go to the Gmail page
  2. Carried out access with your account
  3. Write an email by clicking on the Write button at the top left
  4. In the edit window, you will see a series of icons at the bottom next to the key Send. Click on that a padlock shape (if you hover over it with the mouse, you will see the word Activate / Deactivate reserved mode appear)
Click on that a padlock shape
Click on that a padlock shape
  1. A window will appear with some details to customize (image in the previous paragraph).
    • You can choose later how much time the email expires (1 day, 1 month, 3 months, 5 years)
    • You can choose whether to add security level with a code via SMS that the recipient must enter to read the email (then you must enter his phone number).
  2. Compose the email normally. Below you will see one voice that warns you to be in confidential mode, with the possibility of making changes or deleting the function
  3. Send the email. Now you will need to enter the telephone number of the recipient
Enter the telephone number of the recipient
Enter the telephone number of the recipient
  1. If you go to the folder Sent, you can click on the email Remove access to the recipient
Remove access to the recipient
Remove access to the recipient

Send an email in confidential mode from the app (Android / iOS)

Send an email in confidential mode from the app it is equally if not simpler.

  1. Open the app Gmail, from an Android or iOS device
  2. At the bottom right, click on the button You write
  3. Touch three dots top right
  4. Select the item Confidential mode
  5. This will open a page with the same options as seen above, with the option to choose for how much time the email will be visible and if you add a code via SMS
  6. Write the message and tap Send. If you have chosen to request the code via SMS, you will be asked to enter the recipient’s number
Email in confidential mode from the app (Android and iOS)
Email in confidential mode from the app (Android and iOS)

How to read emails in confidential mode

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes now of whoever receives an email in confidential mode. There are two cases to consider, Gmail users and non-Gmail users.

When a Gmail user receives a confidential message, they can easily read it. Will see the message in the email list, but instead of seeing the first few lines next to the subject, you will see “This message was sent in confidential mode. Open to view its contents“.

It means that the message is in confidential mode and you have to open it to see its content.

At this point, if the code via SMS you will see a normal email with a message at the bottom saying that “You will not be able to forward, copy, print or download this email“. If the code has been set, you will see a message, Verify identity (verify identity) and under a button, Send passcode (Send the code).

Verify identity
Verify identity

By clicking on it, it will come sent an SMS with the code which will have to be inserted in a special field. At that point, you can read the email above. When the email has expired, or the sender has revoked access, you will see a message saying “Email is expired“(the email has expired).

Email is expired
Email is expired

For users not have Gmail, it’s more complicated. When they receive a confidential email from a Gmail account, they will see, as we described earlier, a link to click.

At this point, one will open the page in your default browser. If no security has been set up, they will see the page with the email, and at the top that sign-in to Gmail was made with the sender’s account.

If the SMS protection is they will have to click on the button to receive the code and subsequently they will see the message. Curiously, in this case, Google will indicate that the login was made with the telephone number (evidently a temporary account).

Also, read about How To Protect Against Cyberattacks?

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Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.

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