What is Gmail confidentiality mode – and why should you turn it off immediately?

Written by
Matt Mone

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A major change has been made to the way Google handles email between users, and IT admins need to be aware of it.

Starting June 25, 2019, Gmail users have been able to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access using Gmail confidential mode. When used, recipients of your emails won’t have the option to forward, copy, print, or download any of their content – including attachments. Senders can also set an expiration date, revoke access at any time, or require recipients to provide an SMS verification code to access messages.

Sounds great, right?

Well, while it is undoubtedly a plus for user privacy, it’s likely to cause problems for a great number of organizations. Why? It’s enabled by default. If your business relies on Gmail – and your IT and email policies place any value at all on transparency or you have compliance requirements – you’ll need to be aware, and have a plan.


We recommend that, for now, you simply disable confidential mode. As an administrator, you just need to navigate to Apps > G Suite > Settings for Gmail > User settings, and select the following option:

Disable: This option will prevent users in your domain from sending emails with confidential mode.

Presto. Confidential mode is now disabled – at least until you’re able to develop a more nuanced plan for dealing with it in future and Google has released more documentation on how it will work with their archiving and compliance platform Google Vault.

Why would you want to?

Well, despite the fact that it’ll cause you some headaches if it catches you unaware, Google’s confidentiality mode – when paired with MTA-STS, which we’ve covered previously – is still a very powerful tool for protecting your users’ privacy and your organization’s data.

We can help guide your organization to fully understand the vast G Suite toolset and maximize the benefits it offers. Get in touch with Insource Services at insource@insourceservices.com, or call us on (781) 235-1490 to find out more.