I take it back!

image So far since the beginning of the week , I have received no less than four messages claiming to have attachments that did not.  Within seconds of receiving them, a follow-up email arrives confessing the stupidity, idiocy, or moron-itude of the sender plus the previously promised attachment.  I point no fingers as I am as guilty in this matter as anyone else.

Worse yet are those “Reply-to-all” instead of “Reply” mistakes.  Even worse is the Reply instead of Forward to.  I recall one time receiving an answer to a question from the Facilities Manager here on campus (my land-lord, basically) which I did not like.  Instead of forwarding to my wife my response of “Ugh!”, I replied that back to him.  Nice move, Einstein.

So, here’s a recommendation to all you happy clickers that let the send button do the talking when you’re not quite ready:

Email Delivery Delay in Outlook 2003/2007:

This allows you to double check and re-think sending your email even after hitting the send button.  It causes your email be held for a specified number of minutes after hitting send.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts, and then click New Rule.
  2. Select Start from a blank rule.
  3. In the Step 1: Select when messages should be checked box, click Check messages after sending, and then click Next.
  4. In the Step 1: Select condition(s) list, select any options you want, and then click Next.

    If you do not select any check boxes, a confirmation dialog box appears. Clicking Yes applies this rule to all messages you send.

  5. In the Step 1: Select action(s) list, select defer delivery by a number of minutes. Delivery can be delayed up to two hours.
  6. In the Step 2: Edit the rule description (click on an underlined value) box, click the underlined phrase a number of and enter the number of minutes you want messages held before sending.
  7. Click OK, and then click Next.
  8. Select any exceptions, and then click Next.
  9. In the Step 1: Specify a name for this rule box, type a name for the rule.
  10. Click Finish.

Forgotten Attachment Detector in Gmail

For Gmail there is an experimental feature that detects from the wording of your message that you intended to attach a file but did not.  It pops up a warning if it thinks you meant to attach something.

To enable this feature, go under the Google Labs section of the Settings page in Gmail.  Scroll down to “Forgotten Attachment Detector” and select Enable.  Then click “Save Changes” at the bottom.

I just turned it on for the first time and ran a few tests on the way I might say that I have an attachment.  For example:

  • I have attached a file” – works
  • see attached” – works
  • see attachment”- works
  • “Attachment” as subject line – did not work
  • Here is the file I mentioned” – did not work

Not bad.  It’s worth having running in the background.

Mail Goggles in Gmail

For those emails that you send late in the evening or over the weekend when your head isn’t in the right mindset to respond to some naysayer at work, wouldn’t be nice of something stopped before you vented all over them.  How about having to work out 5 arithmetic problems before you send? That would give you time to reconsider what you have written.

There’s another experimental feature in Gmail that does just that called Mail Goggles.  I don’t use this one but I’ve played with it.  You can control the difficulty and set a schedule for when this will interrupt your sending.


I have yet to discover a way to delay the delivery of an email sent through the Gmail web interface.  If anyone knows how, I’m certainly interested.






3 thoughts on “I take it back!

  1. Well…I was reading your blog when I realized that I had sent an email to one of my profs at Logsdon about an abstract for a paper and had forgotten to attach the document…Doh!!!!


  2. Hey! Saw that you were going to be meeting the creator of MatLab. Way cool! I was at a Math Tech Expo back in October and was actually able to meet Nick Jackiw, creater of Geometer’s Sketchpad and Markus Hohenwarter, creater of the open-source counterpart Geogebra. They’re both pretty cool guys – very knowledgeable. It was definitely an interesting experience.


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