Say you want to send an email that expires after a certain period of time and should only be read by a person of your choice. This sounds more like a secret agent thing, but you as a normal person can use the same feature if you have a Gmail account.

This post covers how you can turn the confidential mode on when composing an email on Gmail and what it has to offer.

With regular emailing, you don’t have control over what’s going to happen to your message and who else is going to see it. But, with Gmail Confidential Mode, you can set both of these parameters for your email message, and can control its expiry as well as delivery to a specific person.

Let’s take a look how it works.

Enabling the Gmail Confidential Mode

  1. Just hit that big fat compose button in your gmail which brings up the “New Message” box right there.
  2. Click the “lock” icon in the toolbar at the bottom of this compose box.
    Gmail Confidential Mode Icon
  3. This will bring up the Confidential mode pop-up where you can set the expiration date for the message, and also a passcode for the recipient.
    Confidential Mode Settings

After setting up the confidential mode, this is how the email compose box looks like:

Gmail Compose box in confidential mode

Setting the passcode

When using the confidential mode in Gmail, “No SMS passcode” is set by default which means that your recipient receives a passcode via email in case when they are not using Gmail as their email service.

And if you choose to set an SMS passcode for the recipient, you have to type in a phone number of the recipient which verifies their identity using an SMS passcode. Note that the dialog asking for phone number appears only after you hit the “Send” button in the compose box.

Adding Phone number for SMG Passcode in Gmail Confidential Mode

Once the email is sent, the recipient receives an SMS passcode (auto-generated by Google) on the same phone number you entered in the above dialog box, and will be able to read the email only after providing that passcode.

Word of caution

Note that these emails are not as secure as the regular (encrypted) emails on Gmail. Some people have claimed that this feature just fancies confidentiality as it is secure only with Gmail-to-Gmail conversations.

Test email for the Gmail Confidential Mode feature
This is what I received when I tested the Confidential Mode feature. I opted for the SMS passcode.

Besides, avoiding sending highly confidential stuff like passwords, cards and bank details using this feature would be an intelligent choice to make.