12 Simple Hacks to “Undo” Those Embarrassing Tech Mistakes
In this fast-paced world, when we’re firing off emails, posting status updates, and sending messages a mile a minute, we’ve all pressed “send” or “delete” sooner than we’ve intended at one time or another.
From posting a photo of my “amazung view of the muntains” to sending an email prematurely, I know that feeling of regret all too well.
We’re all trying to maintain control of our online footprint as best we can. But with so many opportunities to mess up on the web, it’s easy to make silly tech mistakes from time to time.
Luckily for us, there are ways to correct some of these embarrassing slip-ups. I consulted my colleagues and scoured the web (hat tip to you, PureWow) to find the following tech hacks that are so simple and yet so life-changing, you won’t believe you ever lived without them.
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1) How to Un-Send an Email on Gmail
Have you ever sent an email and immediately wished you could take it back? If you use Gmail, you totally can. Technically, the un-send feature in Gmail doesn’t actually un-send your email — what it really does is delay the sending of your message for a few seconds, giving you the option to undo the send while the clock is ticking. All you have to do is enable the feature via Gmail Labs. Here’s how to do it …
Step 1: Go to Settings from your Gmail homepage.
The General tab should be open by default. If not, open it.
Step 2: Scroll down until you see the Undo Send section. Click the check box next to “Enable Undo Send,” and choose your cancellation period. You can make it five seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, or 30 seconds.
Step 3: Don’t forget to click Save Changes at the bottom of the screen.
(For you non-Gmail folks, I tried looking for solutions in Outlook and other email clients but couldn’t find any that actually worked. If you know of any, feel free to share tips with readers in the comments section.)
2) How to Restore Tabs in a Web Browser
If you’re like me and keep 10+ tabs open on your internet browser at once, it can be a little devastating when you accidentally close a tab without meaning to — or, even worse, when you close all of them at once.
That’s why I rejoiced when I heard about this hack for Chrome and Firefox, which lets you recover one or of all your previously opened browser tabs without having to dig through your web history. (It doesn’t work if you quit the application altogether.) It’s simple:
On a Mac, hit Command-Shift-T.
On a PC, hit Ctrl-Shift-T.
3) How to Recover an Unsaved Word Document
This is the worst. Has Word ever crashed on you? Or maybe your computer died and you lost hours — or even days — of work? In some cases, you can recover that lost file the way it was at the moment you lost it. Unfortunately, if you never saved the document in the first place, you’re out of luck — but that means you need to get into the habit of saving documents the moment you start them.
If your version of Microsoft Office has AutoRecovery, you can recover a file that’s been autosaved by looking in the AutoRecovery folder the next time you open Word. Here are the instructions for Mac, and then for PC.
Open Microsoft Word and go to File, then Open Recent — and your file will (hopefully!) be listed in the Open Recent list.
Alternatively, you can find it by opening your Finder and looking in /Users/username/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2011 AutoRecovery. (Note that you have to replace username with your personal username.)
To eliminate the guessing game in the future, you can take the precaution of choosing exactly where you want Word to autosave files. To do this, go to Preferences in the Word menu and click File Locations.
Choose AutoRecover files.
Click “Modify…“. Then choose where you want your files to autosave. You can also create a new folder specifically for autosaved files.
Finally — one more Microsoft Word tip! — there’s a feature on some Office applications that lets you save your files automatically on a regular basis. You can set up exactly how often you want your files saved. Just make sure you don’t use AutoRecover in place of actually saving your files. Here’s how to customize it:
On the Word menu, click Preferences. Click Save (in the Output and Sharing section).
In the “Save AutoRecover info every…” box, enter how frequently you want Word to autosave your documents. Click OK.
Step 1: Open Microsoft Word and go to File, then Open, and click Recent Documents from the dropdown menu.
Step 2: Scroll to the end of all your recent documents, and then click Recover Unsaved Documents.
Step 3: If you find the Word Document you’re looking for, double-click to open it, and then save it immediately.
Alternatively, you can find it by searching your computer.
If you have Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 …
Step 1: Press the Windows logo key + E to open Windows Explorer.
Step 2: In the Search This PC box, type the document name and press ENTER. (If you’re unsure of the document name and don’t have a ton of documents to sort though, you can also just type .docx in the Search This PC box and press ENTER and look through all your documents by date.)
Step 3: If you see the Word document you’re looking for, double-click the document to open it.
If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 …
Step 1: Click Start , type the document name in the Start Search box, and press ENTER. (If you’re unsure of the document name and don’t have a ton of documents to sort though, you can also just type in .docx and press ENTER and look through all your documents by date.)
Step 2: If you see the Word document you’re looking for, double-click the document to open it.
4) How to Edit a Facebook Post, Status, or Caption
If you write a post, status, or caption on Facebook that you want to change later, you can edit it via an internet browser. (Unfortunately, you can’t yet change it via Facebook’s mobile app.) Here’s how to do it in a browser:
First, hover your mouse over the post you want to edit. A small, grey arrow will show up in the top, right-hand corner of the post.
Click the arrow and choose Edit.
Edit away! Click Done Editing when you’re finished. Note that edited posts will be labeled Edited, as shown below.
5) How to Undo Typing on an iPhone to Recover Deleted Text
Did you accidentally erase something you just typed? To get it back, you need to Undo Typing. All you have to do is shake your phone, and a window will pop up prompting you to Undo Typing. Click Undo, and you’ll get that text back.
Be warned, though: The “undo” feature only seems to give back text you’ve deleted by selecting the text and then pressing delete — not if you’ve deleted it letter-by-letter.
See it in action:
Image Credit: Chris Wade
6) How to Undo Typing on a Computer
This keyboard shortcut never gets old. Ever delete something you typed out, but really wish you didn’t? Undo typing on a Mac by pressing Command + Z, or on a PC by pressing Ctrl + Z. It’ll “undo” whatever the last thing you typed (or deleted) was. Alternatively, you can click Edit from the menu at the top of your screen and choose Undo Typing. You can repeat this action several times to keep undoing the last few key stroke sequences you made.
7) How to Redo Typing on a Computer
Change your mind and want to “redo” the typing you just un-did? In most applications, there’s a shortcut for that, too. Redo typing on a Mac by pressing Shift + Command + Z, unless you’re in Microsoft Word, in which case press Command + Y. On a PC, press Shift + Ctrl + Z, unless you’re in Word, in which case press Ctrl + Y. Alternatively, you can click Edit from the menu at the top of your screen and choose Redo Typing.
8) How to Unsend a Text Message on iPhone, Android, or Blackberry
Have you ever sent a text message you wish you could take back? There’s an app for that! TigerText is a free app that lets you recall your text message at any time — even after the person has read it. This app can also encrypt your text messages, set them to self-destruct after a chosen period of time (kind of like SnapChat), and can let you know when your texts are read by the recipients. You’ll need to download the app, connect it to your email address and phone, and create a password. This solution only works if both you and the recipient have the app installed, but I still thought it was cool enough to share.
9) How to Un-Send an iMessage
Without TigerText, you can’t un-send an iMessage on an iPhone once it’s been delivered. But if you’re quick enough, you can stop it from sending while it’s still in the process of sending.
How? By putting your phone in Airplane Mode to stop the text from sending. iMessages send pretty quickly nowadays, so you don’t have much time … meaning you’ll probably want to practice if you ever plan on trying this in the future. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: As soon as you realize your mistake, press the Home button.
Step 2: Go into the Settings app. (It may not be in the same place on your iPhone as it is here.)
Step 3: Switch on Airplane Mode by sliding the button to the right so it turns green. If it works, a small airplane will appear in the top, left-hand corner of your iPhone screen.
Step 4: Go back to the text message. If it failed to deliver, then it worked! You can delete it if you want.
(You can usually turn your phone on Airplane Mode by simply swiping up from the bottom of your screen — but note that you can’t do this while you’re texting, which is why you need to go into Settings instead.)
10) How to Rewrite Your Instagram Caption
Can’t think of a super clever Instagram caption on the spot? Not to worry: You can always edit (rewrite) your caption later. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Open the picture on your phone and tap the ellipsis.
Step 2: Choose Edit from the menu that appears.
Step 3: Edit the caption to your heart’s desire, and to save it, press Done.
Note: To delete your caption entirely, follow the steps outlined in #11. When it comes to deleting the caption, Instagram treats captions like it does comments.
11) How to Delete Instagram Comments
You can delete Instagram comments and delete your own Instagram caption using the same trick. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Open the picture on your phone and tap the thought bubble icon.
Step 2: Hold down your comment for about two seconds, and swipe to the left. Tap the trash can.
You can also do this with any comment on your photo. You can also do it with any comments you make on other users’ photos.
12) How to Undo a Retweet on Twitter
Ever retweeted a post on Twitter, and later decided you want to remove it from your Twitter feed? It only takes one click of a mouse. If you used Twitter’s retweet feature, the same retweet button you clicked (the rotating arrows) will undo your retweet.
It won’t delete the tweet from the original poster’s page, but it’ll remove it from your own feed.
If you retweeted with a comment, you can remove the retweet by clicking the “delete” link located beneat the tweet, just as you would delete a regular tweet from your profile.
Have any more hacks that’ll help the rest of us correct our tech mistakes? Share them in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.