gmail mobile email

By: Nick Gambino

Riding the self-destructing message train, Gmail has introduced a way to send e-mails that expire after a given time. Confidential Mode, as it’s called, is meant to protect sensitive information from prying eyes.

The secure feature has been available on your computer since Gmail was given a major update back in late April, but it’s finally ready for the Android and iOS apps.

Senders will have the option of setting an expiration date anywhere between one day and five years. Though I can’t imagine why you’d want something to expire after such a long period of time. It seems 24 hours or a week has more applicability.

Now just because an expiration date has been set doesn’t mean that it’s locked in stone. The sender of the confidential e-mail can decide to revoke access at any time. And for an extra layer of security they can require a passcode sent by either SMS or e-mail be entered before anyone can read the content of the e-mail.

On top of all of that, the ability to copy, paste, download, print and forward have all been disabled so that you can be sure the recipient is the only person who will receive the e-mail.

Google was kind enough to let us know that there are still flaws in Confidential Mode when they announced it in their support center. “Although confidential mode helps prevent the recipients from accidentally sharing your email, it doesn’t prevent recipients from taking screenshots or photos of your messages or attachments,” it reads. “Recipients who have malicious programs on their computer may still be able to copy or download your message or attachments.”

The last point goes without saying, but the prior statement indicating that recipients can still take screenshots is of note. Snapchat famously alerts the user if the recipient screenshots their message/image, but Gmail hasn’t added any sort of support for that. That means any sensitive information can potentially be copied and saved without your knowledge rendering the self-deleting function null and void.

To use Confidential Mode all you need to do is fire up Gmail, compose a message and then select the “More” option with three dots in the top right. Turn Confidential Mode on, set your expiration date, passcode and any other controls. When you’re finished hit “Done” and type your message. It’s that easy.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.