Millions of us do it every day, we send e-mail without even thinking twice. But did you ever send something to the wrong person, or write something in the heat of the moment...click "send"... then instantly think, 'I wish i could take that back?" Well, now you can! You can 'unsend'... and do a whole lot more.
When Marc Dutton e-mailed a huge proposal to his clients recently, he forgot to include an important attachment... "So what I was able to do is actually just go back in, edit the e-mail, and add the attachment, like it never happened," says Marc.
That's right! Marc was able to edit an e-mail that had already been sent... and the changes were automatically updated to everyone who received it. How? A new service called big-string. Darin Myman is the founder. "Bigstring is like an oops button." "If you make a mistake you could correct it; if you didn't want to send it, you could recall it and, like, it never existed. It gives you a sense of control," says Marc.
How does it work? Traditionally, when you send an email, it's like a document saved on your friend's computer. When Marc sends an email, it's stored on the Bigstring server...and only an image is sent to his friend. It'll look like normal email but Marc can edit it, recall it ... or...even set it to "self-destruct!"
"You can send an e-mail to view once and that means once that person opens it, no one else could open that e-mail again," says Bigstring CEO, Darin Myman.
Bigstring is one of several new services offering you a variety of e-mail options. Some allow you to track your e-mails...others, including read-notify-dot-com, allow you to control what people do with your messages. "It let's you block people from forwarding, printing, or copying your e-mail," says Curtis Arnold of ReadNotify.com.
Lance Ulanoff is with PC Magazine. He says these services allow you to decide if your messages, even photos, can be kept as a permanent record. "People have to be more concerned now with what they send because the law has begun to recognize that they are records of information and actions that you may have taken in the past," says Lance Ulanoff, Editor of PC Magazine.
If your past actions include firing off an e-mail in the heat of anger or emotion, you may be interested in a product called 'moodwatch," Bill Ganon of Eudora says. "We launched Moodwatch because as more and more as e-mail becomes like conversation, sometimes you say things you wish you didn't." Aside from flagging obviously vulgar language, it will also alert you to potentially insulting phrases where the tone may be misunderstood.... like... "you've got to be kidding" or "that's ridiculous". Users love the tool. "You write your e-mail and just before you send it, if it thinks it's going to be very offensive, it's going to throw up a little dialogue and say to you, 'are you really sure about this?'," says Jerry Pape, e-mail user.
Whether you need to erase what you said about a co-worker...or soften angry words to your partner... users say these services offer a second chance... "I think everybody goes through a time where they send something with a mistake in it. Well now they have a chance to actually take it back and that's a beautiful feeling," says Marc Dutton, e-mail user.
There is a price for all that power. The e-mail services range on average from 30 to 50 dollars. Some charge you per year; some only require a one-time fee. While each service operates differently, all say they take privacy seriously, and even if your messages are controlled on their servers, you can erase them when you choose, so there is no permanent record.