How to Recall an Email in Outlook: A Step by Step Guide





Just like everyone else, we all have our share of embarrassing email stories. Perhaps you’re wondering how to recall an email in Outlook after having sent a message to the wrong person, forgetting to enclose an attachment, sending an offensive email in the heat of the moment, or making a silly typo. These are just a few examples of email blunders that many of us would like to correct as soon as we realize them, and the ability to recall an email provides a way to do just that.

In this article, we will learn more about how to effectively use this feature and more.

Table of Contents

A Quick Guide to Recall an Email in Outlook

  • Open Outlook > go to Sent Items > click Message > Actions > Recall This Message.
  • To confirm a recalled message, check the Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient check box.
  • You’ll need an Exchange server email and both you and the recipient will need to be using Outlook for this process to work.

How to Recall an Outlook Email

The following is a step-by-step process to recall an email:



Step 1 – Pick the Email in Outlook to Recall the Message

Open your Microsoft Outlook and go to the Sent items to pick an email you want to recall.

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Step 2 – Recall Message

In the ribbon area, you will see the Actions tab having an option- Recall This Message.


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If you have a simplified ribbon, you may not see the Actions tab there. That being the case, open a sent message you want to recall and click on the three dots at the top right side of the ribbon. You will find the Actions tab in the drop-down menu.

When you select the Actions tab, an option to Recall This Message tab appears on the right side.

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Step 3 – Delete Unread Copies and Optionally Create a New Message

When you click on the Recall This Message option, a new Outlook window pops up. You have two options to recall your message:



  • Delete unread copies of this message
  • Delete unread copies and replace them with a new message

Pick the option you want. In case you want to know if the recall succeeds or fails, check the box for recall succeeds or fails.

Click on the Ok button to recall the message.

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Step 4 – Confirm Recalled Messages

You will get a confirmation on the screen to inform you that you have recalled a message.




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If the message is successfully recalled, you will get a notification.

Here is a summary table without the screenshots:

StepsHow to Recall an Email in Outlook
Step 1Open your Microsoft Outlook and go to the "Sent Items" folder to select the email you want to recall.
Step 2In the ribbon area, find the "Actions" tab and select "Recall This Message". If you have a simplified ribbon, open the sent message you want to recall, click on the three dots at the top right side of the ribbon, and find the "Actions" tab in the drop-down menu.
Step 3Once you click "Recall This Message", a new Outlook window will appear with two options: "Delete unread copies of this message" or "Delete unread copies and replace them with a new message". Choose your preferred option. If you want to know whether the recall succeeds or fails, check the respective box. Click "OK" to recall the message.
Step 4After recalling the message, you will receive a confirmation notification. If the recall is successful, you will receive a success notification.

Recalling a Message in Outlook on the Web

Outlook on the web doesn’t have a recall option for sent items. But you can undo send within 10 seconds.



Here is how to do it:

Step 1 – View All Outlook Settings

Click on the cog icon in Outlook on the web and go to the View All Outlook Settings menu.

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Step 2 – Set Undo Send Cancellation Period

Go to the Compose and Reply section and scroll the drop-down list to find the Undo send tab. Set the cancellation period to 10 seconds.



Presently, you cannot have a cancellation period of more than 10 seconds.

Step 3 – Undo Send Button

Write an email in Outlook on the web and send it. On the bottom of the email pane, you will see the Sending pop-up window with an Undo option.

Click on the Undo button to stop sending the message.

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Here is a summary table without the screenshots:

StepsRecalling a Message in Outlook on the Web
Step 1Click on the cog icon in the upper right corner of the Outlook on the web interface and select "View All Outlook Settings".
Step 2Navigate to the "Compose and Reply" section. Scroll down until you find the "Undo send" option. Set the cancellation period to 10 seconds. Note that currently, the maximum cancellation period is 10 seconds.
Step 3Compose an email and hit "Send". A "Sending" pop-up window with an "Undo" option will appear at the bottom of the email pane. Click on the "Undo" button within the cancellation period (10 seconds) to stop the message from being sent.

Alternatives to Recalling a Sent Outlook Email

If you are not able to use the recall feature in Outlook, the following are a few alternatives to recalling a sent Outlook message:

Send an Honest Apology Email

To make a mistake is only human. If you realize your mistake soon enough, the best option is to send an honest apology email. Be sure to explain in detail why you are apologizing and how you will make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. You could also offer to help resolve any issues or problems that may have been caused by your mistake.

Request a Follow-Up Conversation

how to find out if recalling your email has been successful - two people talking



If you think it might be better to address the situation in person or on the phone, you can ask for a follow-up conversation. This will give you the chance to explain the situation and apologize in person or on the phone.

Delay Sending Your Outlook Emails

Multiple factors determine the fate of a recall request. So many a time, email recall fails.

A safe alternative is to delay sending your Outlook emails. This will give you enough time to review your email message later to check if everything is right.

Here is how to defer the delivery of your emails in Outlook:



Step 1 – Manage Rules & Alerts

Click on the three dots at the right corner of your ribbon, then hover on Rules. Click on the Manage Rules & Alerts tab.

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Step 2 – Applying New Rules

Click on the New Rule tab in the Rules and Alerts pop-up. A new Rules Wizard window will open. Select the Apply rule on the messages I send tab and click on the Next button.

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Step 3 – Confirm Application of Rules

Now, the Rules wizard will ask which condition(s) do you want to check?

Don’t check anything and click on the next. A confirmation screen will pop up, stating that this rule will be applied to every message you send. Click on Yes.

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Step 4 – Defer Delivery

A new Rules wizard window will open, asking you what you want to do with the message. Check to defer delivery box and edit the rule description to select the minutes you want to delay your sending emails.

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Step 5 – Name and Turn the Rule On

Click on the Next button, and a new window will open to let you create an exception to this rule. Uncheck every box and click on the Next button.

In the new Rules Wizard window, you can give a name to this rule. Click on the Finish button. And apply the rule.

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Now, if you send an email, Outlook will delay delivery by 5 minutes. The email will stay in the Outbox for this period, and you can make any change to the email and send it again.

Here is a summary table without the screenshots:

StepsHow to Delay Sending Your Outlook Emails
Step 1Click on the three dots at the right corner of your ribbon, then hover over "Rules". Click on the "Manage Rules & Alerts" tab.
Step 2Click on the "New Rule" tab in the "Rules and Alerts" pop-up. A new "Rules Wizard" window will open. Select the "Apply rule on the messages I send" tab and click on the "Next" button.
Step 3The "Rules Wizard" will ask "Which condition(s) do you want to check?" Don't check anything and click on "Next". A confirmation screen will pop up, stating that this rule will be applied to every message you send. Click on "Yes".
Step 4A new "Rules Wizard" window will open, asking "What do you want to do with the message?" Check the "Defer delivery" box and edit the rule description to select the minutes you want to delay your emails.
Step 5Click on the "Next" button, and a new window will open to let you create an exception to this rule. Uncheck every box and click on the "Next" button. In the new "Rules Wizard" window, give a name to this rule and click on the "Finish" button. Apply the rule. Now, if you send an email, Outlook will delay delivery by the specified minutes. The email will stay in the Outbox for this period, during which you can make any changes to the email and send it again.

How to Recall an Outlook Email by Adding a Delay

A delay can be added to emails you don’t want to send out immediately for whatever reason. If you need to recall an email with an added delay, then follow these steps.

Step 1 – Open Outlook

After opening Outlook, click File at the top-left corner.

Step 2 – Manage Rules & Alerts

After clicking on the three dots at the top right corner, hover over Rules and click on Manage Rules & Alerts.

Step 3 – Select New Rule

You’ll see a window popup that will allow you to set different rules. Select New Rule.

Step 4 – Apply Rule

A new window will pop up over the old one with many options to choose from. Click on Apply rule on messages I send then on Next.

Step 5 – Set Desired Delay

At this point, you’ll see various conditions you can choose from, but leave them as-is and click on Next. Then click Yes on the confirmation screen. Click the checkbox next to defer delivery by a number of minutes to activate it. Click the link within the sentence and set your desired delay.

Step 6 – Add Exceptions if Needed

During this step, you’ll be able to add exceptions. If any of them will benefit you in any way, select them. Otherwise, click Next.

Step 7 – Name Your Rule

During this last step, you can name your rule. After naming it, click Finish and your new rule will be saved and activated.

How to Find Out if Your Email Recall Has Been Successful

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When an email has been successfully recalled in Outlook, you are able to easily tell because it’ll have a recall success note at the beginning of the email’s subject line.

What Does it Mean When You Recall an Email?

When you recall an email, it means that you are taking proactive steps to ensure the message does not reach recipients. Recalling an email gives you the chance to prevent an important or confidential message from getting into the wrong hands, or simply undoing a mistake before it’s too late.

This process varies based on the email service provider. So how to recall an email in outlook may be different than how to recall an email in Gmail.

how to recall an email in outlook

Here’s a quick word by Kevin Stratver on “How to Recall Mail in Outlook | Undo Send Any Email” if you’d like to learn by video. It’s a nice companion piece to this article.

Requirements for Recalling a Sent Email in Outlook

You and your recipient should have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account in the same organization in order to recall a sent email in Outlook.

So you cannot recall a message sent to Gmail, Yahoo, or any other email clients. Outlook on the Web doesn’t have the feature to recall an email.

Messages that are protected by Azure Information Protection cannot be recalled. You should also make a note that you cannot recall messages that have been opened by your recipients.

Email Protocols and Recall Limitations

Email recall is a valuable feature, but its effectiveness largely depends on the underlying email protocols. The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), the standard protocol for sending emails, doesn’t inherently support recalling an email once it has left the sender’s outbox.

This is why recalling an email is typically only successful within the same email system, such as Microsoft Exchange used by Outlook.

SMTP was designed for forwarding messages, not retrieving them. Once an email is sent, it moves through various servers before reaching the recipient. This journey makes it impossible to “pull back” the email through SMTP once it’s on its way.

Therefore, the recall function in Outlook works effectively only if both the sender and the recipient are within the same Exchange environment, where the server can intercept and retract the email before it is read.

Variations Between Different Versions of Outlook

Overall, most of the services offered by Microsoft are not very different and offer similar options. While this guide was made for the latest version of Outlook, you can follow along and may still find the recall option as long as you use the guide as a general outline. If you can’t find this option in your version of Outlook, it may not be supported.

Why Does My Email Recall Not Work?

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Here are a few possible reasons why your email recall doesn’t work:

  • You and the recipient doesn’t have Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account in the same organization
  • Your recipient has opened the message already
  • The message is redirected to another folder by the recipient or due to any Outlook rule

Is recalling an email in different versions of Outlook the same?

Yes, recalling an email in different versions of Outlook is the same. However, for Outlook 2007, some options have slightly different names. If you choose to recall an email in Outlook 2007, you will be given the option to “delete unread copies” instead of “recall this message.” Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 both give you the option to “recall this message.”

Does the Recipient Know if You Recall an Email in Microsoft Outlook?

Yes, the recipient will know if you recall an email in Outlook.

How long does it take to see if a recall succeeds on Outlook?

It can take a few seconds to several minutes to see if a recall succeeds on Outlook. The amount of time it takes to process a recall request depends on the size of the email and how many recipients are included. If you’re sending a large message, it can take longer to recall.

Additionally, if there are a lot of recipients, Outlook may need to process the recall request for each one, which can also increase the amount of time it takes to see if a recall was successful or not.

Is there a deadline for recalling emails in Outlook?

No, there is no deadline for recalling emails in Outlook. For a recall attempt to succeed in Outlook, the recipient must not open the email. Unfortunately, this means that there is no guarantee that a recipient won’t open the email before the recall attempt is made. However, it’s still worth trying to recall an email if you made a mistake or need to update the content.

The Psychology Behind Email Mistakes and How to Prevent Them

Sending an email prematurely is a common mishap that many of us have experienced. Often, this is due to the fast-paced nature of our work environments, where quick responses are valued.

However, rushing can lead to errors or sending emails to unintended recipients. To mitigate this, it’s essential to adopt a more mindful approach to emailing.

One effective method is to compose emails in a draft format first, giving yourself time to review and reflect before sending.

Proofreading is not just about checking for grammatical errors but also evaluating the tone and content for appropriateness. Additionally, using tools like Outlook’s delayed send feature can be a safety net, providing a buffer period to cancel or modify emails.

Creating a mental checklist or a set of personal rules for email communication can also be beneficial. For example, you might decide not to send emails when feeling emotional or to wait a few minutes after writing an email before reviewing and sending it.

These small habits can significantly reduce the likelihood of email mistakes.

Alternatives to Email Recall in Professional Settings

When an email recall is not possible or fails, there are other ways to professionally handle the situation. One direct approach is to send a follow-up email.

This email should acknowledge the mistake, offer the correct information if necessary, and apologize for any confusion caused. It’s essential to be clear and concise in your follow-up to avoid further misunderstanding.

In scenarios where sensitive information was sent to the wrong recipient, it’s crucial to also inform your IT department or security team. They can guide you on the next steps and, if necessary, involve legal or compliance teams.

Another preventative strategy is to utilize email encryption, especially for sensitive or confidential information. Encrypted emails add a layer of security, ensuring that only intended recipients can read the content, even if it lands in the wrong inbox.

Lastly, fostering a culture that understands and accepts that email errors can occur is vital. Encouraging double-checking recipient lists and subject lines before sending emails can create a more mindful emailing environment.

Conclusion

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Outlook is an incredibly powerful email tool, but it can be even more useful when you research Outlook productivity tips and know how to use its features to your advantage. With the ability to recall emails, you can ensure that you never send a message that you’ll regret.

And while Outlook doesn’t automatically process requests to recall messages, by following the simple steps in this guide, you’ll be able to manually start using this handy feature right away.

And while Outlook’s recall feature isn’t perfect, it can still be a lifesaver especially when you can’t unsend an email. To avoid even having to use the recall feature, practice good email etiquette and review messages before you hit “Send” so that you can avoid embarrassing or costly mistakes.

How Do I Recall a Message in Outlook Without a Tab?

Recalling a message in Outlook without a tab is very simple. All you need to do is click on File and then click on Account Settings. Next, navigate to Email and look for Type options. After making sure it says “Microsoft Exchange/Office 365” account, you’ll see the recall option as long as all features are enabled.

How Do I See Recalls in Outlook?

To check the status of a recall, simply open the Sent folder, click on the specific email you recalled, and then click on the Tracking button in the bar. Repeat this process for each email you want to check the recall message status on.

How Do I Recall an Email in Outlook After 1 Hour?

You can recall a message in Outlook, as long as the sent email hasn’t been opened by the recipient yet. In this case, all you have to do is go to Message, then Actions, and click Recall This Message. When the popup menu appears, select your desired option to send your recall message request.

Can You Recall an Email Already Sent?

Yes, you can. To do so, simply open Outlook and go into Sent Items. You’ll then click the email you’d like to recall, select Actions, then click Recall This Message. However, as mentioned above, if the recipient has already opened the email you sent them, then you won’t be able to recall it.

How to Make a Mailing List in Outlook?

Here is how to make a mailing list in Outlook. Go to Home then select New Items > More Items > Contact Group. Next, within Contact Group select Add Members > From Outlook Contacts. Then select a contact from your list and add them to the group by selecting Members. You can add additional members as needed. Remember that when emailing a mailing list, email etiquette is important. Check out these email greeting examples to help craft the perfect message.

Image: Depositphotos


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Kevin Ocasio Kevin Ocasio is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, United States Marine Corps veteran, serial entrepreneur, and certified digital marketer, who writes for various online publications including his own Grind Boss blog.

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