You tap out a message and hit send — then, your heart thunks to the floor. Oh shit. I should
not have sent that after all. We’ve all been there, whether it was shooting off an angry email to a coworker, a tequila-advised proposition to your recent ex, or a truly troublesome autocorrect fail.
Luckily, it's 2015 and there are a variety of ways to take back your shame and embarrassment by unsending that irksome message. Some offer a buffer before the message actually hits someone's inbox or phone. Other apps and inbox tools let you actually retract your words — as long as the recipient hasn’t opened it yet (we haven’t invented time travel, after all).
While there’s no substitute for good ol' proofreading, you can now be saved from your quick, impulsive taps of the send button. Read on to find out how.
This article originally published May 16, 2015.
Photo: Madeline Buxton.
Skype Yes it's a little untraditional, but Skype (free, iOS and Android) is one of the best places to message from if you're having a wild night out. After sending a message, you can easily press down on it to edit what's been sent or remove it completely, hiding any inebriated blunders.
Photo: Courtesy Drunk Dial NO!
It doesn't get more simple than the Drunk Dial NO! app ($1.00 on Drunk Dial NO! iOS). All you have to do before a night out is press the plus symbol in the upper righthand corner, add as many contacts as you'd like, and enter the amount of "lock time". The app will block you from accessing that contact's number and email for as long as you specify so that even if you do get tempted to text your ex, you won't be able to.
Photo: Courtesy On Second Thought.
On Second Thought Send your messages through On Second Thought (free on Android), and you’ve got a 60-second buffer before it actually gets sent. Just swipe your message to the left or right within a few moments of hitting send and you’ve got the option to recall it. And perhaps even better: On Second Thought offers a curfew feature, so if you know you’re going out for a night of debauchery, the app saves all of your outgoing messages until the next morning. Imagine: Never waking up wondering what messages you sent the night before. Glorious! An iOS version is coming soon.
Photo: Courtesy Dasher.
Dasher Dasher (free on iOS and Android) is like the shopping mall of messaging experiences. In addition to letting you chat with friends (it's even GIF-friendly), it also lets you share your location, play YouTube videos right in the chat stream, and Venmo money, all without leaving the app. On top of that, Dasher lets you edit or delete messages you’ve already sent, so you can that turn that 1 a.m. duckface selfie you accidentally sent to your dad into a photo of your cat before he ever sees it.
Photo: Courtesy Clear.
Clear App Clear (free on iOS) helps you manage your social media image after the fact. It lets you go back in time and delete those old tweets you may have posted in poor taste (because maybe your potential new boss may not be so keen on how many f-bombs you’re able to drop in 140 characters). Clear is still in beta with a long waiting list, so be warned: Once you download the app, it may take a while until you’re actually given the opportunity to scan your Twitter feed for negative-sounding posts.
Photo: Courtesy Google.
Gmail Labs Undo Send Did you hit send on a flirty email to your office crush… to the whole office? While you should probably take a good, hard look at your flirtation techniques, your reputation isn’t SOL, as long as you’ve enabled Google Labs’ Undo Send feature in Gmail. This optional feature gives you 10 seconds to unsend a message after you’ve hit the Send button. If you need a little more time, you can up that buffer to 30 seconds. To switch this on, click the gear cog icon in the upper right to access Settings, then click the Labs tab. Scroll down to “Undo Send” and click Enable, then hit Save Changes at the bottom of the page. You can adjust the time buffer for Undo Send in the General tab of your Gmail settings.
Photo: Courtesy Microsoft.
Microsoft Outlook Recall Message What if your office uses Microsoft Outlook? Don’t fret, you’ve got a similar ability. Outlook lets you recall, or recall and replace a message sent to another person in your organization — perfect for reducing inbox clutter if you realize you forgot to attach a file, or identified some serious typos after the fact. To Recall a message, go to Mail, Sent Items, then open the message you want to recall. Go to the Message tab, click Actions, then Recall This Message. If you want to delete this message altogether, tap Delete unread copies of this message, otherwise, just edit your original email and your new version will be sent instead. Unfortunately, there are a few scenarios ( which Microsoft outlines) where your attempt to recall a message results in two messages being sent to the recipient's inbox — which means your original error may be doubly highlighted.
Photo: Courtesy Inbox Messenger.
Inbox Messenger Inbox Messenger (free on iOS and Android) offers several features that make it stand apart from your standard messaging app. First off, it lets you unsend messages (score!), but it also has a privacy mode that “cloaks” messages on your phone. A shake of your handset reveals the actual text, so prying eyes can’t spy on your chat logs while you type a new reply. Inbox Messenger also lets you send drawings, voice messages, videos, and your location, and supports a number of different languages. You can see if a friend is “present” or not as well, so you know whether to expect an immediate reply or if it’ll be a bit.
Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
Facebook Privacy Settings If you have a tendency to overshare on Facebook and regret it later, you can try switching your settings around to keep your posts private until deemed in good judgment. To do this, head over to the privacy icon in the upper right of your Facebook page, then click “Who can see my stuff?” Under “Who can see my future posts?” change it to “Only Me.” Now, everything you post to Facebook will initially be private to you. If you decide you want to share it with friends, or the world, you can click the upper right of the post to adjust its individual sharing settings. Alternatively, you can set your posts to only be viewable by a select group of friends or family. Both of these are actually a good idea if you’re afraid your old Facebook posts could come back to haunt you.
Photo: Courtesy Buffer.
Buffer Buffer is a scheduled posting service for social media. You can write posts and choose which social accounts you want them to publish to. Buffer will post them over the course of the day or week. If you’re looking to boost your social media presence on Twitter or LinkedIn, Buffer could be a great tool to use, but also, by planning out posts ahead of time, it eliminates the possibility that you might share something awkward or distasteful. Buffer (Free on iOS and Android) also has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, so it’s easy to use whether you’re on-the-go or at your desk.
Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Change Your Habits If all else fails, you could change your habits. Take an extra 10 to 15 seconds before hitting that send button to read (and re-read) your post. Autocorrect is sneaky sometimes; it can change the spelling of your word a second or two after you’ve typed it. If you don’t go back and proofread your message, Autocorrect may have swapped your colleague’s name for a random word that starts with the same letter. You can also use this Gmail tool if you find yourself constantly forgetting attachments on emails. And as for drunk texts…well, you can always just hand your phone to a friend for safekeeping (she doesn't know your passcode, right?).
Photo: Courtesy TigerText.
TigerText Secure Messaging For Business Made for businesses, TigerText sends fully encrypted messages to your work contacts. You have the option to send messages or files that self-destruct — and you can recall them at any time. TigerText also has an Apple Watch app, so you have even greater control over your messages. TigerText is available for free in the App Store and on Google Play.
Photo: Courtesy RakEM.
RakEM RakEM eliminates text regret by allowing you to delete individual messages or entire conversations from your phone and your friend's phone whenever you so desire. All it takes is one tap. To communicate with people through RakEM, your contacts also need to be using the app, but it's free in the App Store and on Google Play and is easy to download and use. Plus, all of your messages and attachments are fully encrypted for an extra level of security.
Photo: Courtesy Drunk Mode.
Drunk Mode If you're having a rager of a night, Drunk Mode is a must. The app, free on the App Store and Google Play, includes five services. The call-blocker component is a must: It keeps you from calling pre-selected friends (or exes) for up to 12 hours. There are also ways to keep track of drunk friends, easily find a ride home, and even a "Hotspots" feature with real-time data about how busy certain areas are.
Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
Privates Privates sounds a lot more risqué than it actually is (the app's slogan is "Protect Your Privates"), but that's the whole point. The app shares your most provocative moments with your intended recipient, only. It includes a screenshot blocker, and you can limit the viewing period for photos in the same way you can on Snapchat (although the latter has evolved from its earlier, edgier days). You can also recall messages that haven't been read yet to keep yourself in the clear after a crazy night out.
Photo: Google Play.
Drunk Blocker If you tend to shop when drunk, then this bank-account-saving app is for you. In addition to letting you block calls and texts, the app blocks your apps so that when you're tempted to buy that $3,000 computer from Amazon, you can't. You can also select a contact as your "designated driver" within the app, making it easy to call that person and get home safe.