Sending confidential messages on Gmail

Google’s confidential mode in Gmail, introduced in 2018, allows people with personal accounts to send messages that can expire, and that prevents recipients from copying their contents, forwarding them to others, or downloading them.

Access to confidential mode in Gmail will be widened to include to G Suite users from 25 June, giving them the ability to correspond in confidence. This feature will be switched on automatically; managers will have the ability to switch it off if they want. This means you will be able to use the feature to send sensitive business documents if your company uses Gmail.

You can also now use confidential mode on a desktop, or through the Gmail app on mobile, though you will need to activate confidential mode each time you send a message. Here is how you do it in your browser:

In a browser: Compose a new message. Look for the icon of a locked clock to the right of the ‘Send’ button (it may be hard to find among all the other icons, but keep looking) and tap it. A pop-up will appear that allows you to set the parameters for how long you would like recipients to have access to your message before it expires.

If you want an extra layer of security, you can also require recipients to input a passcode that will be texted to their phone numbers. A notification that the message is being sent in confidential mode will appear across the bottom of the message.

On mobile: The steps are largely the same as in the browser, but some of the items are located in different places than in your browser. The process is the same for both iOS and Android versions of Gmail.

Compose a message. Tap the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of the app, then tap ‘Confidential mode’. You will then have the option to set the time for how long the message can be viewed by recipients and whether it is protected by a passcode. Once you have adjusted the settings, a message sent in confidential mode will display a small window across the bottom that details how long the message will exist before expiring