There can be all kinds of reasons you don't want to send a text message or an email straight away—maybe you know the recipient is busy or in a completely different time zone, or perhaps the information you're sending won't be relevant for a while.
Today's mobile and desktop apps are adapting to give you more options when it comes to scheduling your messages for the future. These are the tools you can use and the options you've got.
Schedule Texts and Chats
The Google Messages app that's the native SMS app on many models of Android phone (and available to download) now has a scheduling feature built in. The trick is to tap and hold the Send button (the arrow icon on the right) once you've composed your message.
This will bring up a panel with some suggested times later in the day. You can select one of these, or choose Pick date and time to specify an exact day and time. Until then it will stay as pending in the app, with the scheduled time and date above it.
If you're using Android, the exact setup of your phone will depend on the make and manufacturer, and you might find you've got other options. The default Messages app on Samsung devices, for example, has a scheduling function built in for delaying the sending of texts.
Tap the + (plus) icon to the left of the text box—or the > (greater than) icon if you can't see the + icon—then choose Schedule message from the pane that pops up. You'll be prompted to pick a date and a time to send the message, then tap Done.
Over on iOS, the default Messages app doesn't include a native scheduling function, but you can use Apple's own Shortcuts app for the job. You then need to install the Delayed Time iMessage shortcut, which you can find by searching for it in Shortcuts, or get there directly from here. If you tap the three dots at the top right corner of the shortcut, you can see how it works and maybe tweak it to suit your own needs.
Run the shortcut with a tap, and you'll be prompted for a contact, a message, and a time and date when you want it to be sent. The shortcut then waits for the specified amount of time before sending your SMS or iMessage. It's best not to schedule messages too far in advance, as this trick needs the Shortcuts app to still be running in the background at the scheduled time you've specified.
Your phone will need to be switched on and have an active connection to the outside world for these scheduled messages to be sent—you're delaying the sending of the text from your local device, rather than having it wait in the cloud or on a server somewhere, so bear that in mind.
As for third-party chat apps, you won't find message scheduling in apps like WhatsApp or Signal, but it is available in Telegram: Hold down the Send button (the blue arrow) to find the Schedule Message option, then pick a date and time for the message to be sent.
As well as scheduling your text messages, you can also put a delay on your emails. Gmail is best at this, and if you're using Google's email client on the web, you can click the small arrow next to the Send button when composing a message, then Schedule send to pick a day and a time.
Gmail will make some suggestions for you, like tomorrow morning, but if you choose the Pick date & time option at the bottom you can specify exactly when you'd like the email to go. Future schedule suggestions will usually include the last date and time you picked, so you can easily get a batch of messages going at the same time.
Messages that are waiting to be dispatched are kept under the Scheduled heading in the Gmail navigation pane on the left, and until a message has gone, you can open it up, edit it, change the scheduled time it needs to be sent, and delete it.
The emails that you've scheduled are stored on Gmail's servers, so you don't have to make sure your devices are switched on and online as you do with scheduled text messages—once you've picked your date and time you can switch off your laptop and let Gmail take care of the rest.
These scheduling options are available in Gmail for Android and iOS as well. In the mobile apps, from the Compose window you need to tap the three dots in the top right corner and then choose Schedule send—you're then able to go for one of Gmail's suggestions or enter a specific date and time.
Apple's Mail client doesn't offer a scheduled send function, but a variety of other email applications do—and you can manage your Apple email through them (or through Gmail if you prefer).
Microsoft's Outlook supports email scheduling. When you're composing a message on Windows, switch to the Options tab, click the three dots to the right, and then choose Delay Delivery; on macOS and in the web client, click the arrow next to Send, then pick Send Later.
Mailbutler is an email plug-in for Apple Mail, Outlook, and Gmail that supports scheduling—though you'll need to pay €7.95 (about $9.50) a month for the premium package to use it. Another option is Spark, which is free for personal use: It's available on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and Windows, and it lets you schedule messages to send at a future date and time.