Information classification is one of the major security problems when working with organizations and clients. You need to follow the guidelines to classify emails and send as normal, private or confidential mode. Many of us aware how to send confidential emails in Outlook client. However, do you know that you can easily send confidential emails in Gmail? The beauty with Gmail is that it self-expire confidential emails after the set expiry date. If you are excited, read further on how to send self-expiring confidential emails in Gmail.
Confidential Emails in Gmail
In Outlook and many other email clients, you can mark the email as confidential to prevent certain user actions. However, you can’t set expiry date to remove the content of the confidential email. In contrast, you have to set an expiry date in order to send a confidential mail in Gmail. In addition, the recipient can’t do the following actions when receiving confidential email:
- Not possible to copy or print the email.
- Can’t forward or download the email.
- Can only read the content before the set expiry date.
- Email will show a message with the expiry date indicating that is a self-expiring confidential email.
Sending Confidential Email in Gmail
With the above details, you must know that the confidential mode in Gmail is something different compared to other email clients. Follow the below instructions to send a self-expiring confidential email.
- Login to your Gmail and compose an email.
- Click on the “Confidential mode” icon. This is available at the bottom icon list in desktop interface.
- On Mobile devices, tap on three dots icon and select “Confidential mode” option.
- On the next screen, set an expiry date for the email.
- You can set the expiry date from one of the available options of 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 3 months or 5 years.
- The “Require Passcode” option has two options – No SMS passcode and SMS passcode.
- Recipients do not need a password to open confidential email when you select “No SMS passcode” option. However, if the recipient does not use Gmail, then he or she should login with Google account to view content of the email you have sent.
- When selecting “SMS passcode” option, you need to enter the phone number of the recipient. He or she can request a passcode when opening the confidential email and receive the passcode in the number you provide. Gmail supports SMS passcode for countries in North America, South America, Europe and Australia. However, only India, Korea and Japan are supported in Asia.
- After setting expiration date and passcode option, you can start typing the content and send your email. You will see a notification in the message body with the content expiry date. Click on the “Edit” link to change your settings before sending the email.
Revoking Recipients Access
After sending a confidential email in Gmail, you can anytime revoke the access for reading the email.
- Simply go to your “Sent” folder and click on the confidential email you have sent.
- It will show you the content expiry date along with a link to “Remove access”.
- Click on the link to revoke the access.
- You will see a message in the bottom saying, “Action completed”. Now, the “Remove access” link will be changed to “Renew access” with the notification saying, “Content is expired”.
- Click on the “Renew access” link to reset the expiration date.
Reading Confidential Email
If you have set no passcode required, the recipient can simply read the email using the mobile app or desktop interface. The message will show a similar content expiry notification with expiration date.
As mentioned, recipient can’t forward, print, download or copy the email content.
Email Has Expired
There are three possibilities if you can’t see the content of the confidential email:
- Sender revoked your access to read the content.
- Deleted the sent email before the expiration date.
- Set expiration date of the email is already expired.
In all these cases, you will see a “Email has expired” notification in the message. It will have a note saying, “The sender has set a limit on how much time you have to view this email”.
When to Use Confidential Mode and When Not?
Confidential emails in Gmail is a cool option for sending restricted content. You can use this feature for the following scenarios:
- You can send product launch or client project details that is valid only for few days or weeks. After the set expiration time, you can either renew the date or leave the email content to expire automatically.
- Protect the email with passcode to avoid data leaking or accidental reading of unrelated person.
- You do not want the recipients to forward the email or reproduce in any form by copying.
- Follow organizational requirements to send the email as confidential when using Gmail.
However, it is obvious the recipient can take a screenshot and grab the text from that. You can easily tap and copy the text from screenshot images in smartphones like iPhone. Therefore, do not send secret messages in confidential mode. In addition, there will be no mentioning of confidentiality classification in the email. Hence, you should not use this feature for Outlook confidential classification replacement in legal projects that needs explicit data classification to be mentioned in the emails.