Message Expiration

Message Expiration, allows ProtonMail users to send messages that will be destroyed after a set amount of time.

  • This feature is only available for encrypted messages:
  • Expiration only takes place if it is explicitly chosen by the sender (see below). By default, all messages sent from ProtonMail do not expire.

 

To set an Expiration Time for a message:

1. Select the button in the bottom of the compose page.

Expiring message in ProtonMail

 

2. Use the drop-down menu to set the amount of time the message will exist.

Setting the expiration time in ProtonMail

 

The expiration time chosen represents the amount of time the sent message will exist. The timer starts when the message is sent. For example, if you send a message and set the expiration time for 3 hours, the message will expire 3 hours from the time you press Send.



The expiration time does not start once the recipient has read the message.


 

The maximum expiration time is 4 weeks (28 days).

What happens to the message once it expires?

ProtonMail -> ProtonMail

Sender: Message is deleted from the sent folder.

Recipient: Message is deleted from the inbox (or whichever folder it resides at the time of expiration).

ProtonMail -> Non-ProtonMail

Sender: Message is deleted from the sent folder.

Recipient: Encrypted messages sent to non-ProtonMail emails are contained within a link when sent to the non-ProtonMail email. This contents of this link are deleted once the message expires.

Please note – Once expired, the encrypted message and attachments will be deleted, but the email containing the link to the now deleted message cannot be deleted as it resides outside of ProtonMail.

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40 comments

  1. fra173

    I send encrypted message without expiration to my own non-protonmail mailbox. When i open my message, i see expiration time 28 days. I tried to open this message when i logged in and logged out Protonmail – its no difference, expiration works.

  2. CD

    Can we have back the ability to enter the number of hours as well as using the slider please?

  3. Anonymous

    please fix this back to the older way. there is no reason, except NSA ones to keep the messages by default. and the process itself is unclear. on purpose?

  4. Anonymous

    So, there’s no option to keep the email forever if sent between Proton accounts? Feels like there should be a “never” option in the expiration slider. I also suggest a function where the user can set their own default expiration period in settings. Thanks for a great service!

  5. Nichole

    I need the ability to KEEP an email for an indefinite period of time. (i.e. scanned document). Please tell me there’s an option to do so.

  6. Jimmy

    Even though I have created an encryption password for sending an email to a gmail account with 42 hour expiration, I still get a message saying I need to set up an encryption password.

  7. Unbonded-freeman

    I am new to ProtonMail. I am trying to attach images from my iMac and would like them attached as images WITHIN the Text of a message.
    Can this be done or are they solely as an attachment which sits beneath the email and needs to be ‘clicked on’ separately?
    When attempting to send an attachment, I click on Send and a message Pop Up states that I need an “attachment key”.
    Where is that “Key”organized for or found?

    Cheers

  8. Sylwester

    What happens when i delete the email from my sent folder in a proton -> non proton scenario?
    In other words. I send an email with expiration of 2 days to non-proton account.
    After one day I know that the user read and does not need to access to that email again.
    Can i make the email expire earlier than it was set at sending?

  9. blueglacier

    I too, like 2 comments above, am having this problem with sending an attachment:
    “When attempting to send an attachment, I click on Send and a message Pop Up states that I need an “attachment key”.
    Where is that “Key”organized for or found?”

  10. Introspective

    Under the heading ProtonMail -> Non-ProtonMail above the
    article describes what will happen to a message that is set
    to expire for the Sender and the Recipient.

    I also saw the following note:

    “Please note – Once expired, only the link containing the encrypted message and attachments will be deleted.”

    It seems like this note is saying that the expired encrypted email will continue to exist on
    protonmail’s servers but the sender and recipient of the email will no longer be able to
    access it.

    Is this the correct interpretation of the given statement above or am I not understanding
    the meaning?

  11. ProtonMail Support

    The wording of that statement was poor, so we have revised the article.

  12. Dmitry Bolshakov

    https://protonmail.com/support/knowledge-base/encrypt-for-outside-users/
    “messages sent encrypted to non-ProtonMail recipients will expire after 28 days by default”

    here is
    “Sender: Message is deleted from the sent folder.”

    but if I did not set expiration time – I don’t want my message to be deleted

  13. ProtonMail Support

    The encrypted messages to outside recipients are stored on our servers, and not in the recipients mailbox. Because of this the maximum limit, even if you don’t set an expiration time, is 28 days.

  14. Anonymous

    i sent email with expiratoin to proton user.
    the email is gone from my Sent folder and probably from recipient’s Inbox.

    however he replied to that email and now all the text from the expired email is now forever stored in his outbox and in my inbox under his reply – is it possible to force expiration to all emails when replying to a email with expiration set? otherwise it’s of no effect when the original email expired, as its content in is all replies by default …

  15. banter

    I also have the same problem that when I send encrypted message without expiration to my own non-protonmail mailbox and when I open my message, I see expiration time 28 days. I need to have the option of keeping mail indefinitely. Please advise.

  16. ProtonMail Support

    The encrypted messages that are sent to outside recipients are kept encrypted on our servers and not in the participants inboxes. This is why there is a time limit to how long they are available. When you communicate with other ProtonMail users the messages are kept indefinitely.

  17. Anonymous

    Hi, is possible to stop to expiration an expiration mail when you have send it? Thanks

  18. ProtonMail Support

    Once the message is sent, the expiration time can’t be removed or changed.

  19. Fabian

    having switched expiration time to ZERO the mail will be received with an expiration time of 28 days.
    This is absolutely useless for me,how can I change it to OFF ???

  20. ProtonMail Support

    Hi,
    Sending encrypted messages to outside users has expiration time because they are stored on our servers.

  21. timdj

    I would like expiration time to be longer or able to select a date. I would like to send instructions to someone while I am away but that information is no longer needed when I am back.

  22. Anonymous

    I sent an email with expiration to a proton user.
    The email is gone from my Sent folder and from recipient’s Inbox.

    However, he replied to that email and now all the text from the expired email is now forever stored in his outbox and in my inbox under his reply.

    What can be done on your end about this?

    Thanks in advance

  23. ProtonMail Support

    We will look into adding more options about this in the future, for now if the user replies without adding an expiration time to his message, it will not be deleted.

  24. Anonymous

    I know this is just a repeat of many previous requests, but, increase the time available before message expiration, please!

    Only 28 days is far, far too short. Ideally, we should have a do-not-expire option. But, even something like six months would be very, very useful.

  25. Michael Gibouleau

    If you have a gmail account CC the message you are sending to the gmail account. Use the http://www.gmx.com account as an archive. I know they have a problem with storage and perhaps not willing to spend time or money gmx is a good solution. Or you can cc it and archive it to a gmail account or Thunderbird from Mozilla.

  26. Anonymous

    As a customer (any of us) we are given storage space from you.
    From the comments about the inbox n sent folders having mail deleted by you (protonmail) n I’ve never come across a protonmail address in my life, hence not very popular, then the servers are pretty damn empty!

    The lack of info by you to replies on here doesn’t allow me to ascertain what you mean by your storage space?
    Naturally as always the contract allows you to call the shots, we like it or lump it.
    I would assume that the deleted emails are stored on the space you allocate to the customer n not on additional space. If I was to give space to customers then I would let them choose how to use it. You allegedly can’t read the mail, so what difference is there to protonmail to protonmail over wanting to store an outsiders mail on your servers presumably on the space allocated to the customer?

    Lastly for myself. I have the android app with no built in instructions nor can I easily find if there is an idiots guide here on the website.
    Please enlighten me to what the symbol which looks like an eye with a line through it means please.

  27. ProtonMail Support

    The storage you have is for the messages and attachments you receive. All messages use up that storage. No matter where the message is, it takes up storage until you permanently delete it. The only messages that are automatically deleted are the ones sent with an expiration time, or encrypted messages to outside, which have a maximum expiration time of 28 days.

    The eye you see on the password field is a toggle allowing you to see or not see the password you are typing.

  28. Kyab

    I’ve only used 43mb of my storage space – yet my inbox emails prior to May 2016 are missing. This has happened in my other protonmail account too. All emails – both sent and received are missing; and I haven’t reached my storage limit nor have I doeoeted all of these emails.

  29. ProtonMail Support

    Please contact us on contact@protonmail.ch or via the Report bug button for assistance.

  30. Paul Janzen

    I have the same problem, except I can’t see any of my emails older than 2 weeks.

  31. ProtonMail Support

    Please check if there is more than one page of emails in your Inbox. You can find the page selector in the upper right corner beneath your username.

  32. Kyab

    I’ve only used 43mb of my storage space – yet in this and my other protonmail account all older emails (in this instance, prior to May 2016) are gone. They are gone from both my sent and received boxes, but there were still older emails in the draft box. I haven’t archived the emails, so that is not an option.

  33. ProtonMail Support

    Please contact us on contact@protonmail.ch or via the report bug button for assistance.

  34. proton user

    By default and for security reasons I believe that it is good for all messages to be deleted after a period of time. If some-one wants to hold onto the message maybe it should be copied and saved somewhere else. Also how does anyone know who is making some of these non secure comments. It could be some one trying to destroy the secure privacy structure.

  35. Victor Rodriguez

    Why would you need to encrypt an email message sent to another ProtonMail user? Isn’t all ProtonMail email encrypted? Then why the need to add additional encryption for messages between ProtonMail users?

  36. Matt S

    I would like to see an option to delete a message immediately after being read. If a message is not read prior to the expiration time it would be deleted. NoteShred does this and it’s perfect. Simple check box on the expiration options would do it. Greatly reduces risk and you don’t have to try to get your expiration time just right..

  37. I L Milne

    Hi
    I am no longer “able to find” many emails that I received in my INBOX during March to April 2018. Some even had attachments!
    Also, during this same period “The Replies” I sent to many of these same emails are longer in the “Sentbox”.

    I DID NOT SEND ANY OF THEM TO TRASH OR DELETE!

    Unable to find any on the Advanced Search either!

    Can you advise?

    Thanks

  38. ProtonMail Support

    Please contact our support team using the support form at https://protonmail.com/support-form, or send a message to contact@protonmail.ch or support@protonmail.ch.

  39. LammTech

    Protonmail is really very secure as it is an encrypted email service that uses a different approach to email security. Thank you

  40. Michal

    Please, make it possible to set expiration of the emails sent to non-protonmail emails to “never” at least for paying customers. I see your replies above that the reason why there is the maximum of 28 days is because the messages are stored on your servers. But that can’t be the reason – you store the incoming and outgoing non-encrypted emails on your servers too, and they just increase the used storage but stay there without expiration. I understand that the encrypted emails require more storage – I’m ok with the encrypted emails eating much more storage space of my limit. I’m considering paying for the Plus, but this holds me back.

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