Design & UX
Article

New GMail System Helps Prevent Email Embarrassment

By Craig Buckler

email embarrassmentFor all it’s convenience, email is a dangerous medium. It’s 9pm Friday night. You’re moaning to your friends about working late and click send without thinking. Monday morning arrives and there’s a “Did you mean to send this message to me?” email sitting in your inbox. From your boss. Oops!

A new GMail feature might help you. “Got the wrong Bob?” is a Google Labs add-on which analyzes the contact groups you email most often and identifies potential conflicts. For example, if you regularly send messages to Tim, Angela and Bob Smith, a new email to Tim, Angela and Bob Jones will alert you that it might be a mistake:

email embarrassment

The system was devised by Google engineer Yossi Matias:

I often came across messages sent by mistake because Yossi is a common name in Israel.

One was a communication between two people. They were having a conversation about the future of a colleague but had accidentally included him in the emails. So I thought that maybe we can provide a feature that can recognize this.

“Don’t forget Bob” is a similar add-on which analyzes your send list and highlights recipients you might have missed. To switch on either system:

  1. Log on to GMail and click Settings at the top-right.
  2. Click the Labs tab.
  3. Scroll down to the add-on and click Enable.
  4. Hit Save Changes.

Could this system help you? What was the most embarrassing email you sent to the wrong recipient?

Meet the author
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler
  • The Rocker

    Nice, I won’t make any more typos when creating email in gmail, my life is changing

  • WebKarnage

    I have made a few cracking typos that completely change the meaning of what I typed, but never sent the message to the wrong person. Only a couple of times have I left out an intended second recipient and forwarded it to them later.
    I hardly use my Gmail account (just for Google related stuff) so it won’t make any difference. I so rarely send to groups of recipients either, that even if I was using Gmail it wouldn’t change a thing.

  • http://fcOnTheWeb.com ferrari_chris

    I’m not sure which is worse – accidentally sending an email to one wrong person, or hitting the dreaded Reply To All button when you only wanted to reply to one person…

  • http://www.magain.com/ Matthew Magain

    Now if only Google could develop a GTalk add-on to prevent me from sending IM messages to the wrong person …

  • mystline7

    Great! I can’t count the amount of times I’ve accidentally sent emails to the wrong people like this.

    Good work google :3

  • D.A.

    This is quite the idea, another helpful tool to keep things on track in our
    busy lives. I am usually very careful with things like this, but have sent some
    IM’s to the wrong people. Thankfully they were only slightly embarrassing.

  • nick

    I never send to the wrong person but often times I forget to attach files. Maybe they can make something along the same lines but for file attachments…

  • adimauro

    Unfortunately the ‘unsend’ button remains an elusive dream…

  • Stevie D

    Two features that would stop me sending stupid emails are:

    – a warning if you start off the email “Hi Bob” but the name in the To: line is “Tim” (obviously, I would expect it to work with other combinations of names too)

    – a warning if I type something about an attachment, but then don’t attach anything.

  • teena

    I’ve done it once and I vowed never to make the same mistake again lol — …though it would be worst if accidentally hit reply to all…internet is good, I mean e-mails but if you’re a first time user, it could lead to embarrassment. thanks for the tip.

  • direkfilmizle

    thanks alot for information
    film izle

  • http://www.scriptsdesk.com jakab

    wow! Really very nice system provided.

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