How Gmail’s new ‘self-destructing emails’ actually work

Rob Waugh
You can add many of the new features right now (Getty)

This week has seen a major redesign for Google’s Gmail email service – including the addition of ‘self destructing emails’.

Gmail users are seeing a new updated look for Gmail – and one of the new features is ‘confidential mode’, which lets you send ‘self destructing’ emails.

Emails sent using ‘confidential mode’ can’t be forwarded, printed or copied.

They can also be set to delete after a set period of time.

The email content is accessed online, rather than in the email, so this works even if the recipient doesn’t use Gmail.


After the set period, users see a message saying, ‘This email has expired.’

Users enter ‘confidential mode’ using a lock icon at the bottom of the ‘compose email’ box.

Users can also add security features such as requiring a code generated by a text message before an email can be opened.

The changes are rolling out now (Google)

Google says the mode will be useful for sending confidential emails such as tax returns.

Google says, ‘Finally, a new confidential mode allows you to remove the option to forward, copy, download or print messages—useful for when you have to send sensitive information via email like a tax return or your social security number.

‘You can also make a message expire after a set period of time to help you stay in control of your information.’

You can access some of the features of the new Gmail (although not yet ‘confidential mode’ on all accounts) by clicking the cog button the top right of Gmail and selecting ‘Try the new Gmail.’