Gmail now has over 1.5 billion active users making it the number one email client in the world by far. It’s easy to use, comes with 15 GB of free storage, has seamless integration with Google Drive, and syncs with other email accounts.
But most people don’t realize they can increase their privacy by sending confidential emails.
In this guide, you’ll discover how to send confidential emails on Gmail as well as Microsoft Outlook. You’ll also get some tips you can use to protect all the emails you send, regardless of whether you mark them confidential or not.
Send & Receive Confidential Emails
With Gmail’s Confidential Mode, you can protect sensitive information from unauthorized access. You can set pass codes, expiration dates, and revoke access to emails you send. You can also choose whether recipients can print, download, copy, or forward your message.
Of course, it’s not bullet-proof. Users can still use apps to take screenshots or share the message. But it is a much higher level of security compared to default email settings.
Beware: sending confidential emails doesn’t mean that nobody can intercept your message. For this reason, whenever sending sensitive data, enable a VPN. It can help to prevent man-in-the-middle and other types of cyber-attacks.
Robust and high-performing VPN like NordVPN encrypts all your online traffic, including emails. It reduces the chance of any third-party figuring out the contents of your message to a minimum. And considering the privacy threats these days, you are best off enabling your VPN at all times regardless of whether an email is confidential or not.
But let’s go back to the main point. How do you compose a confidential email?
Read More: How To Schedule Emails in Gmail For Free
How to Create a Confidential Email
Step 1: Open Gmail and click Compose.
Step 2: In the bottom right of the window, you’ll see a lock. Click on it to turn on Confidential Mode.
Step 3: Create an expiration date and passcode. If you choose an SMS passcode, recipients will receive a passcode required to open the email. Be sure to input the recipient’s phone number and not your own
Step 4: Click Save
Step 5: Compose your message and send it
How to Remove Access Early
Step 1: Open Gmail and go to your Sent folder
Step 2: Open the confidential email
Step 3: Click Remove Access
How to Open Confidential Email
You can open a confidential email both in Gmail and in other email clients:
- For Gmail, you open the email and enter the passcode if necessary.
- For other clients, you click on the email, and it will take you to a separate web page. If necessary, you’ll need to enter a passcode to view the email.
That’s it. It’s not rocket science. Sending and receiving confidential emails is simple. But most people are not aware of this Gmail feature.
Confidential Emails on Outlook
Outlook also allows you to set the sensitivity level of your email to private or confidential. When you set a level other than normal, you see a note at the top of the email saying, “please treat this email as private” or to whatever setting you chose.
But it doesn’t change the recipient’s ability to forward, download, copy, or print the email. It is only a notice for them to see.
To change what recipients can do with your email, you must alter the Permissions under the Options tab in Outlook. Don’t see Permissions? Then double-check whether you’ve enabled the Information Rights Management feature in your settings.
Next, set the permissions accordingly. You can select one or many restrictions:
- Disable Forward All
- Request a Read Receipt
- Request a Delivery Receipt
- Disable Print
- Disable All
Read More: How to Delete Gmail Messages in Bulk
Confidential Doesn’t Mean Encrypted
Regardless of whether you use Gmail or Outlook confidential settings, it doesn’t mean your email is encrypted. Google can see the content of your email, and they store it on their servers.
Even after an email expires, it’s still accessible in the sender’s sent folder. In other words, Google still has access to it. And if someone hacks your Gmail account, so do cybercriminals.
If you want to encrypt your emails, you’re better off looking at an option like Proton Mail. Proton Mail uses end-to-end encryption and does not store emails on its servers. It creates a much higher level of privacy.
Alternatively, you can use an encrypted messaging service like Signal. Not only does it offer secure messaging but also encrypted voice and video calls. Signal also has better identity verification tools and doesn’t store your messages on its server nor log metadata.
You might not be able to replace email entirely, but it’s a good alternative. And it’s compatible with file sharing. It means you can still use it for work purposes, like sharing Word documents and other important files.