How-To Geek

Send Encrypted Emails Through Gmail Using a Chrome Extension

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Need to send sensitive information through email? Normal email messages can be intercepted or hacked before reaching the recipient. However, you can use a free extension for Google Chrome, called SafeGmail, that allows you to send encrypted emails to anyone.

Messages are encrypted and decrypted within the browser, so your message is only seen by you and the person to whom it is sent, and the messages remain encrypted in both the sender’s and receiver’s email inboxes  The messages also automatically expire after a random amount of time.

SafeGmail works with any recipient email provider.

To install the extension, visit the SafeGmail extension page using the link at the end of this article. Click the Add to Chrome button.


The Confirm New Extension dialog box displays. Click Add.


A message box displays when the extension has been successfully installed. Restart Google Chrome and reopen your Gmail page after installing the extension.


SafeGmail adds an Encrypt? check box to the Compose screen. Once you have written your email and entered one or more recipients and a subject, click the Encrypt? check box. Two edit boxes display for a Question and an Answer. Enter a question and an answer that only you and the recipient(s) will know. Then, click Send + Encrypt.

NOTE: The answer is case sensitive.


The encrypted email looks like the following image for the recipient(s). The encrypted email is included as text between dashed lines. Copy this text before clicking the Here link to access the email.


Answer the question and click Submit to access the a screen allowing you to decrypt the email.


The Mail Decryption screen displays. Paste the email content copied from the received email in the edit box and click Show My Mail.


The decrypted message displays in the browser window.


SafeGmail also allows you to enter special language characters in your email message to be encrypted.

Download SafeGmail from [discontinued]

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 01/9/13

Comments (16)

  1. that guy

    When this works with Firefox I will use it.

  2. Jeff Sadowski

    IETF developed PGP back in 1991 specifically for enceypting email. Why can’t they write a good interface to use it in a browser? Enigmail in Thunderbird seems to work quite well. The Kleopatra program that comes with PGP for Windows makes it pretty easy to use outside the browser then just copy the encrypted message where you want it. It has been around for such a long time yet I still see stuff like above… how sad.

  3. mario
  4. mikycomputers

    Thank for the info,how can I know that they don’t keep the data themselves?or see it themselves?

  5. Wasp

    Google always makes a backup of user’s data, even if it’s logged in to an google account (Gmail, Search, YouTube, Android Market) and even better from it’s blessed child Google Chrome. Read the privacy policies for Google Chrome and the “requirements” of the addon’s. You’ll consider the more you user the, the more you lose your rights.

    So even you encrypt your mail, by the time before you do the encryption, an already back text of the unencrypted mail with be send to the data center of Google.

    Browser mail encryption, for now, has in no secure. So, stay with Enigmail and Thunderbird and support the GnuPG Project as you can, if you really care for privacy and respect for communication.

  6. Vaidya

    After installing extension, do I still have the option of sending mail in normal manner, without encryption.

  7. Ancient1one

    Informative post.. Thanks Just do not understand why we need an extension to encrypt emails. Why aren’t all email providers encrypting any and all info sent by email?

  8. biOos

    @Ancient1one: Because of the CPU consuming… among others.

  9. Abu Zibby

    Symmetric encryption is not the right tool for encrypted communications. PGP/GPG and SMIME are the proper tools for email.

    As far as I know the are currently no browser extensions but copy & paste from a GPG-enabled editor works fine and is secure.

  10. Dic

    @Abu Zibby:

    “. . . PGP/GPG and SMIME are the proper tools for email.

    What are they, and where can we get ’em?

  11. Eagle

    @WASP. One would hope the user is using SSL to connect to Gmail servers. Full Message Encryption is for after it leaves Gmail servers.

  12. Wasp

    @Eagle this is true in a way but with Google Chrome the “computer security laws” collapse.

    @Dic take a look at these

    and I hope you to admire Phil Zimmerman

  13. dan

    Too bad you have to copy and paste to decrypt. A lot of extra steps. Needs to be able to decrypt in the e-mail body once you enter the answer.

  14. dan

    I’ll be deleting.

  15. Richard

    What about any attachments that you may also be sending? Are these also encrypted, or just the body of text?

  16. Dic


    Sorry about the delay (been away), but thanks for the links.

    And, yes, I do thank Phil Zimmerman. As it happens, my current reading – Simon Singh’s ‘The Code Book’ – has explained the problems he had with the FBI in getting his PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) to us mere mortals. In the end, though, it was us mere mortals who forced it through.

    But while we’re remembering Phil, let’s also remember Martin Hellman, Whit Diffie, Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adelman, for their earlier breakthrough work on secure encryption, for it was on their work that Phil Zimmerman based his PGP. (The first two explained the theory, the other three put what we now know as RSA into practice.)

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