Send & open confidential emails

You can send messages and attachments with Gmail's confidential mode to help protect sensitive information from unauthorized access. You can use confidential mode to set an expiration date for messages or revoke access at any time. Recipients of the confidential message will have options to forward, copy, print, and download disabled.

Important: 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. Recipients who have malicious programs on their computer may still be able to copy or download your messages or attachments.

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Learn how confidential emails work
In this animation for confidential mode in Gmail, Lisa clicks the confidential mode icon at the bottom of the message, then sends a confidential message to Sam
Important: The content in this animation is only available in English.

Send messages & attachments confidentially

  1. On your computer, go to Gmail.
  2. Click Compose.
  3. In the bottom right of the window, click Toggle confidential mode .
    • If you've already turned on confidential mode, go to the bottom of the email, then click Edit.
  4. Set an expiration date and passcode. These settings impact both the message text and any attachments. 
    • If you choose "No SMS passcode," recipients using the Gmail app will be able to open it directly. Recipients who don't use Gmail will get emailed a passcode.
    • If you choose "SMS passcode," recipients will get a passcode by text message. Make sure you enter the recipient's phone number, not your own.
  5. Click Save.

Remove access early

You can stop your recipient from opening the email before the expiration date.

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. On the left, click Sent.
  3. Open the confidential email.
  4. Click Remove access.

Open an email sent with confidential mode

If the sender used confidential mode to send the email:

  • You can open the message and attachments until the expiration date or until the sender removes access.
  • Options to copy, paste, download, print, and forward the message text and attachments will be disabled.
  • You might need to enter a passcode to open the email.
I'm using a Gmail account
  1. Open the email.
  2. If the sender does not require an SMS passcode:
    • If you use the latest Gmail apps (web or mobile), you will directly find the email when you open it.
    • If you use another email client, open the email, click on the link View the email and sign in with your Google credentials to open the message.
  3. If the sender requires an SMS passcode:
    1. Select Send passcode.
    2. Check your text message for the passcode.
    3. Enter the passcode, then select Submit.
I'm using another email account
  1. Open the email.
  2. Select View the email..
    • A new page will open.
  3. Select Send passcode.
  4. Check your text messages or email for the passcode.
  5. Enter the passcode, then select Submit.

I'm getting an error

Email has expired

The sender might've deleted the email or removed your access before the expiration date. Contact the sender to give you more time or to resend the email.

The provided number is for an unsupported country

You can only add SMS passcodes for phone numbers from these regions:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Europe
  • Australia
  • Asia: India, Korea, and Japan
Switch accounts
Make sure you're signed into the correct Google Account that's associated with the recipient email. Then, try to open the email again.

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