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Science

Sender's remorse? Turn back the time with Gmail's email unsend

Wrong recipient, misspelled name? Google's email program now lets users "unsend" their messages. But you'll have to be fast if you want to keep your botched message from being delivered.

It's a dream come true for anyone who has ever sent an email by mistake - so, basically, for everyone who has ever used email. Tech giant Google announced on Tuesday that the "Undo Send" function will be immediately available to all users of its Gmail service.

If you frequently send lengthy discussions of your weekend plans to your boss instead of your buddy or hit "Reply all" on a 100-plus recipient newsletter, this is great news - because if you realize your mistake quickly enough, you may be able to spare yourself an awkward apology later on.

Since there isn't an omnipotent hand that can reach into someone else's inbox and magically pluck out the message after it's delivered (yet), the feature instead allows users to set a certain delay period for their emails before they are actually sent. Users can choose to have their message wait in limbo for five, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.

"Undo Send" has been available to users who opted in to Gmail's experimental Lab settings for six years. But now all users can install the safety guard.

To enable the feature, Gmail users prone to sender's remorse have to click the little gear icon on the top right of their inbox. Select "settings" from the drop-down menu and voilà: about halfway down is the "Undo Send" function.

Once activated, a small box offering an "Undo" will pop up every time an email is sent.

Gmail, which Google introduced 11 years ago, is used by 900 million people across the world, according to the Associated Press news agency.

cb/sms (AP)