Gmail confidential mode - effective June 25, 2019

As of June 25, 2019, you will be able to send emails using Google’s confidential mode through your university email.  Confidential mode allows senders to create expiration dates for email messages and revoke previously sent messages. It also allows senders to require additional authentication via text message to view an email.  Additionally, with confidential mode, recipients don’t have the option to forward, copy, print, or download their content or attachments.


You are still encouraged to send emails the way you have previously.  For email content that you would like to have greater control over, however, Confidential mode will be an option.


How do I use it?


You select Compose an email as you would normally.


There is an icon that looks like a lock which enables that email to be sent in confidential mode



When you select it, there will be a prompt for how long you would like the recipient to have access. There is also an additional option to configure an SMS code to be sent to them that they will need to enter to have access.


Simply select the x in the right hand side of the confidential mode banner to disable it.  You can also make adjustments by selecting edit


What does it look like for the recipient?


Through Gmail


Through Non-Gmail Accounts


The recipient just needs to select “View the email” and it takes them to another page in which they can view it, but can not interact with it.


Attachments are viewable in your internet browser, however, they are not downloadable.


You might not be able to view the email if the sender has chosen to revoke it or time has elapsed for access. If that is the case, you will need to contact the sender to ask them to resend or adjust its availability.


Limitations of Confidential Mode


  • Confidential Mode does NOT replace the need to encrypt sensitive information sent via email. The contents of an email sent in Confidential Mode remain in the sender’s mailbox.  If the sender’s mailbox is compromised, that data is still at risk if it is not encrypted.  The data is also at risk in the recipient's mailbox until the message has expired. 


  • Confidential mode does not prevent recipients from taking screenshots or photos of messages or attachments that they receive via confidential mode before the message expires. Therefore, it is possible for the recipient to still retain the information. 



Google Vault and Confidential Mode

Google Vault provides archiving of emails and is used for legal holds.  Google Confidential messages are visible in Vault in the mailboxes of all internal senders and recipients even when the sender sets an expiration date or revokes recipients' access to confidential mode messages.  Confidential mode messages sent from external parties are owned by their senders.  Message headers and subjects of external confidential messages are available in Vault, however, message content or attachments from external confidential messages are not.