How do I send an encrypted email in Gmail?

SecurityAppdrawn Team | Published 3rd October 2023
Find out how to send and receive emails in confidential mode...

There are seldom occasions when you compose an email whereby you just feel really uneasy about its contents. Perhaps you are sending sensitive information regarding medical symptoms to your GP or private information to a legal firm or financial outfit? Or maybe you are wanting to file a formal complaint to HR regarding a colleague at work? Whatever the scenario, the bottom line is, you don’t want that information going elsewhere or getting into the wrong hands! 

To give you peace of mind we recommend sending emails in confidential mode. This way only recipients in possession of a passcode can access the email and they are unable to copy, paste, download, print and forward the contents of the message. Obviously this isn’t a bullet proof solution but it certainly adds a layer of protection.

How to send encrypted messages and attachments confidentially in Gmail?

  • Go to Gmail.
  • Click the ‘Compose’ button and a new message window will appear.
  • At the bottom of the message window there is a padlock icon with a clock called ‘Toggle confidential mode.’ Press this icon. 
  • Set an appropriate expiry date from the drop down menu.
  • You can then choose whether to opt in for an SMS passcode:
  • Opting for 'No SMS passcode' means if the recipient of your message uses the Gmail app, they will be able to open it directly. Any recipient who does not use Gmail  will receive an email with a passcode.
  • Opting for 'SMS passcode' means the recipients of your message will receive a passcode via text message. You will be asked to enter the intended recipient's phone number.
  • Hit ‘Save’.
  • A padlock icon with the heading ‘Content expires on [INSERT DATE]’ will appear in the body of the email proving it is encrypted.

How do you remove access to an email that has already been sent?

If you have had a change of heart and want to stop a recipient viewing and accessing the email before the specified expiry date, you can remove access early:

  • Go to Gmail > Sent
  • Open the confidential email in question.
  • Click ‘Remove access.’

Receiving an email in Gmail sent in confidential mode

If you are the recipient of an email sent in confidential mode you:

  • Can only view the message and attachments until the specified expiry date or until the sender removes access.
  • Cannot copy, paste, download, print and forward the contents of the message (text or attachments). 
  • Might need to enter a passcode to open the email. This may be sent via text message.
Appdrawn Team | Updated 3rd October 2023

Follow us on social media for more tech brain dumps.