Confidential Mode

With Confidential Mode in Gmail you can send sensitive information securely. Recipients of messages in confidential mode can’t forward, copy, print or download messages, even the attachments.

You can also set an expiration date to revoke access at any time, and require an SMS verification code to access the message.

NOTE – 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.

There is a video at the bottom of this page which will guide you through the process of sending a Confidential Mode email.

How it works

Internally; Instead of leaving the text in the email it, in essence, takes an image of the content and displays that instead. Right-click mouse buttons are disabled and when you go to print the email it is blank.

For external users, they will receive a link to view the image of the email online and will also have the same limitations.

When the expiration date arrives, the content in the email disappears and a message to say the email has expired is all that remains.

Send messages & attachments confidentially

  1. Click Compose.
  2. In the bottom right of the window, click Turn on confidential mode (represented by a little padlock with a clock in front of it)
    Tip: If you’ve already turned on confidential mode for an email, go to the bottom of the email, then click Edit.
  3. 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.
  4. Click Save.

Remove access early

You can stop your recipient from viewing 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 view 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.

Android & iOS

The same options and method are possible in the mobile device apps however instead of looking for the padlock icon you simply need to press the More button (represented by the three dots) and touch Confidential Mode.