As a part of preventing unauthorized access to your Gmail accounts, especially when it comes to sending messages and other sensitive documents alongside, Google has enabled confidential mode service for their Gmail users. With this service, you can easily set a date for expiration for messages, and you can even revoke an already sent message any time you want to. Therefore, among other things, you will get to know what confidential mode is in Gmail, how to mark an email as confidential, and how you can turn on the confidential mode in G Suite.
What is confidential mode in Gmail? It is an app that is available on Android and iOS, which disables the receiver of a message from copying, forwarding, downloading, or printing such a message. By implication, any sensitive information that you are sending cannot be leaked out with the confidential mode. Once you lock it using a password, the recipient can get the password sent through email if he or she does not have or use the Gmail app, or through SMS messaging if you choose that option.
Apart from preventing or protecting sensitive information from leaking out, with the confidential mode, you can set a time when the message would expire or revoke access to it whenever you choose to. However, even though recipients would not be able to share your email when it is received, that does not mean that they would not be able to take photos or screenshots of the message or attachments. Also, if a recipient has any malicious programs on his or her computer, that may grant him or her access to copying or downloading the messages or attachments.
Is Gmail confidential mode encrypted?
Even though Gmail confidential mode prevents unauthorised printing, downloading, or transfer of your messages or attachments, one thing that has been faulted with this app is Google's failure to ensure end-to-end encryption. The implication of this is that Google can gain access to the contents of whatever you send and they have the technical capability to store the information for as long as they want to, not minding the 'expiration date' on the message.
So, instead of allowing the end-to-end encryption, what Google did instead is to use their Information Rights Management (IRM) technology. Unfortunately, this technology rests on the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act obscure statute.
How do I enable confidential mode in Gsuite?
There are a few steps that you can take when enabling confidential mode, so, if you are sending a message through your computer, android phone, or iOS, here is the guide on how to enable confidential mode in Gmail.
Enable confidential mode on your computer
- Visit Gmail on your computer.
- Then, click on "Compose", and on the bottom right of your computer's window, click on "Turn on confidential mode".
- If you already have the feature turned on for an email, what you need to do is to click on "Edit" at the bottom of the email.
- From there, you can then set a date that you want the message or attachment that you are sending to expire as well as a passcode. With the settings that you have made, all messages and attachments are affected.
- In case you choose "No SMS passcode" option, it means that the Gmail app would be able to open the message directly. However, any recipient who does not use Gmail will receive an email containing a passcode.
- On the other hand, if you choose the "SMS passcode" option, this means that the recipient would get a passcode through text message. This would be possible once the phone number of the recipient is entered.
- Lastly, click on the "Save" button.
Enable confidential mode on Android
- Open the Gmail app on your Android tablet or phone.
- Then, tap on "Compose" and at the top right side, tap "More" (the three dots) before you also tap on the "Confidential mode" option.
- If you have turned it on before now, you can edit it by tapping on "Edit" at the bottom of the email.
- Then, you can turn on the confidential mode.
- Next is to set a date that the message or attachment that you are sending would expire as well with a passcode.
- If you want the Gmail app to open the message directly, choose "No SMS passcode" option. However, if the recipient does not use Gmail, he or she would receive an email containing a passcode.
- On the other hand, if you choose the "SMS passcode" option, this means that the recipient would get a passcode through a text message. But note that this would be possible once the phone number of the recipient is entered.
- Once you are through with the whole process, tap on "Done".
Sending messages and attachments confidentially on iPhone and iPad
- Open the Gmail app on your iPhone or iPad, and then tap on "Compose".
- Tap on "More" on the top right side before tapping on "Confidential mode".
- In case you have turned on the confidential mode before for the email, simply tap on "Edit" at the bottom of the email to turn on "Confidential mode".
- Now you can set when the message or attachment would expire and the passcode for opening it. In case you click on "No SMS passcode" option, it means that the Gmail app would open the message directly, but if the recipient does not use Gmail app, an email containing a passcode will be sent.
- On the other hand, if you choose the "SMS passcode" option, that means that the recipient would get a passcode through a text message. This would be possible once the phone number of the recipient is entered.
- After you have done all, tap on "Done".
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How to remove confidential mode in Gmail
In case you want to deny recipient access to open the email before the date of expiration that you set, whether you are doing that on your computer, Android tablet, phone, or iPhone, here is how to go about that.
- Open the Gmail app on your computer, Android device, or iPhone or iPad.
- Next, tap on "Menu" and then on "Sent".
- Then, you can open the confidential email, and at the bottom of the screen, tap on "Remove access".
How to open an email sent with confidential mode
When you receive an email with confidential mode, here is what you need to do:
- If it comes with an expiration date, you have the privilege of viewing the messages and attachments (if any) before they expire or until when the sender disables your access.
- Automatically, you will not be able to download, copy, paste, print, or forward the information.
- In case there is the need to enter a passcode before you can open the email, enter the code that was sent to you via a text message or email.
Google has done a great job worth commending with the confidential mode app that Gmail accounts now have. At least, with it, senders can rest assured that only messages and attachments that they want recipients to leak out, print, download or get transferred are eventually done. However, a defect in the app is the unactivated end-to-end encryption that it does not have.