What is “confidential mode” in Google?

Google’s confidential mode may sound like something from a CSI show, but it’s actually not as confidential as you may think. It’s a tool you can use when you’re sending an email (it’s the padlock icon in the bottom bar). Confidential mode offers a few features. It gives you the ability to set an expiration date for the email, and it also restricts the recipient from forwarding, copying, printing or downloading the email. You can also use it to protect an email with a password.

Keep in mind, though, that confidential mode doesn’t provide full security or confidentiality to your emails. It doesn’t fully encrypt your emails, so we would advise you not to send sensitive information — even if you’re using confidential mode. But it’s still a useful tool for keeping things on the low — just know that it can be hacked (since it’s not encrypted) or screenshotted.

If you use confidential mode to set an expiration date on an email, know that the email will still expire even if the recipient doesn’t open it. It’ll still exist in your sent mail folder, but the recipient won’t have access to it after it expires.

About Carrie

Carrie Rollwagen is host of the Localist podcast and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she works as Vice President of Strategic Planning at Infomedia, a web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. Find the Localist at @thinklocalist on Instagram and follow Carrie at @crollwagen.

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