Most of us have experienced that heart-shattering moment when you send the message to the wrong person.
Most smartphone communication apps have “Unsend” or “Delete for everyone” buttons, but it isn’t that common for email clients.
Luckily, the Outlook recall email function allows its users to unsend messages in case they ever send one to the wrong person. So, if you’re looking for how to recall an email in Outlook, then read on for an in-depth guide.
A Little About Outlook
Microsoft Outlook is a great email client that allows users to manage their emails easily. It has several advantages over other mailing clients like Gmail.
It features a friendly UI and excellent email management and seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Office. Therefore, it’s a great remote work productivity tool.
Not only that, Outlook has seamless integration with Skype, Teams, and To-Do. Since its launch in 2012, it has amassed over 400 million users.
How to Recall an Email in Outlook
Note that these instructions for how to recall a message in Outlook don’t work on the web version. This only works on a desktop client, and you and the recipient have to be using Microsoft Exchange or a Microsoft 365 account in the same company.
The recall email Outlook feature doesn’t work with emails that aren’t within the same organization. So it can only really be used as a way of improving workplace email communication. While that might have you closing the app in frustration, here is how to unsend an email in Outlook.
Step 1: Go to the Sent Items folder and search for the email you want to recall. It should be near the top of the list if you sent it recently. Double-click it.
Step 2: Click on the Message button on the toolbar at the top. It’s going to expand it. Now have a look at the Move section, and you should see a letter and an envelope icon. That allows you to see more options, click on it.
Step 3: More options should show up. Click on the Recall This Message option there.
If your interface is different, select the Message tab, click the three dots there, click on Actions, and click on Recall This Message.
Step 4: A popup window should show up. You will see two options: Delete Unread Copies and Replace With a New Message or Delete Unread Copies of This Message. You should have an option that notifies you if the process failed or succeeded. You can choose to enable or disable it depending on your preference.
Step 5: If you choose to send a replacement message, Outlook opens another screen that allows you to review the message. As you compose the new email, Outlook will recall your old message. Click on the Send button when you revise the message.
NOTE: If you use the Outlook recall message function, the recipient sometimes needs to open the recall message first. Make sure to type in something to get the recipient’s attention.
In some cases, the recipient may not be notified when the recalled messages are deleted.
There is still a chance that the recipient may know that an offensive or irrelevant email was sent even if they cannot view it properly.
Related Reading: How to Edit Signature in Outlook [Desktop and Mobile]
Variations Between Different Versions of Outlook
Most Microsoft services have pretty similar options. You can follow the guide above, but your Outlook version may have different settings in your case. Whether you’re using Outlook 365, Outlook 2019, or an older version, make sure to follow the general outline, and you should be able to get to the recall option.
If you’re unable to see it, check whether your Outlook client supports it.
Related Content: How to Get iMessage on Windows
Requirements to Recall an Email
- You and the recipient must both use Outlook and be on an exchange server.
- The email must be unread.
- The recipient’s mailbox must be open when you attempt the recall.
- Span filters, rules, and add-ons can’t interact with the email before the recall.
Possible Outcomes for an Attempted Outlook Email Recall
- If the recipient has read the email, the recall will fail, and the recipient will be notified of the recall attempt.
- If they have not read the email and it meets the other requirements, the email will be deleted, and the recipient will be informed that you recalled the email.
Note: The recipient may have opened the email and taken a screenshot, then marked it as unread, and the recall will work.
Alternatives to Recalling an Email
The system to recall messages on Outlook is far from perfect in Outlook and leaves much to be desired. If you can’t recall your email, fret not, as you can choose a few alternates. Here are a few of them.
Write an Apologetic Email
You should always double-check to ensure your emails go to the right person, but we all make mistakes once in a while.
If you accidentally do send the wrong email to the wrong person, then the best way is to just apologize to them nicely. An honest apology is never bad and helps build trust and respect with your recipient.
Just type a concise apology email, explain what went wrong, and ask them to delete the email if it had something important, like another email, attached to it.
How to Recall an Outlook Email by Adding a Delay
Adding a delay means that your emails aren’t sent out immediately. If you’re someone who constantly has to reply to emails, send confidential data, or just don’t trust themselves, you may want to add a delay to your sent emails.
Follow the instructions below to set up delays to your sent emails.
Step 1: Click on File on the top-left corner of Outlook.
Step 2: Click on the option that says Manage Rules & Alerts.
Step 3: A window will pop up that allows you to set various rules. Here, select the New Rule option.
Step 4: Another window will pop up on the old one with a number of categorized options to choose from.
- Click on Apply rule on messages I send
- Click on Next to go to the proceeding page
Step 5: The new window will show you a number of conditions to cheese from. However, in our case, we don’t need to choose any of them so just click on Next. A confirmation screen will appear. Click on Yes to confirm it, then:
- You should see an option called defer delivery by a number of minutes, click on the checkbox next to it to activate it
- Click the hyperlink in the middle of the sentence
- Set the number of minutes to pass after the email is sent.
Step 6: After clicking on Next, you will be taken to another window that allows you to add exceptions to your ruleset. In our case, we didn’t have any but feel free to scroll and choose an option that may benefit you. Otherwise click on Next to go to the finalization page.
Step 7: This window will allow you to name your rule and add a few final touches. Once you’re done, click on Finish, and your rule should be saved and activated.
Why Recall Sometimes Doesn’t Work
Even though it may sound like a no-brainer, the recall function doesn’t always work flawlessly. The email you sent may already be in the recipient’s inbox due to the blazing fast internet speeds these days. Here are a few factors that may botch your attempt to recall an email. Here are a few of them:
- Public folders: Public folders allow anyone with access to read the email. If somebody opens it, then the recall will fail.
- Redirected to another folder: If the recipient has set up a rule that sends your email to another folder, then the recall will fail. This is why you should act fast if you mess up.
- Opened message: If the recipient has already opened the email, then you won’t be able to recall it. The recipient will still be able to receive and read the recall message but the recall option only works with unopened emails in the inbox.
- Different email clients: The recall function only works with Outlook, so you’re out of luck if you use Gmail or another email messaging platform.
Related reading: How to Encrypt Email in Outlook
Frequently Asked Questions for the Outlook Recall Function
Still unsure about some things? This FAQ section should be able to ease any troubles you run into.
How Do I Recall an Email in Outlook 2021? / Can You Recall an Email Already Sent?
The method of how to retract an email in Outlook 2021 works in the same way we discussed in this article. You have to go to the Move section, go to more options, and finally click on Recall This Message.
How Do I Recall a Message in Outlook Without a Tab?
To use the unsend email Outlook function without a tab, you need to:
- Go to File and click on Account Settings
- Then navigate to the Email section and look for the Type options.
- Make sure it says “Microsoft Exchange/ Office 365” account. The recall option should be there if all of these options are enabled.
How Do I Recall an Email in Outlook After 1 Hour?
As long as the email hasn’t been opened yet, here’s how to pull back an email in Outlook
- Go to the Message tab.
- Go to Actions and then click on Recall This Message.
- Choose your desired options from the popup menu, and you should be able to send a recall request.
How Do I See Recalls in Outlook?
Once a recall is sent, you may need to track it often to check its status. To do this, open the Sent folder and click on the email you recalled. Now click on the Tracking button in the bar to check the status of the recall.
How Do I Recall an Email in Outlook 365 App?
To use the recall message Outlook 365 option in Windows, go to the sent items page and double-click the message you wish to recall. On the Message tab, click on Actions and then click on Recall This Message. A popup should appear that allows you to review and recall the email.
Can You Recall an Email in Outlook Without Recipient Knowing?
Unfortunately, even when you know how to take back an email in Outlook, the recipient is always notified. Even if the recall attempt fails, the recipient will receive a notification.
What Is the Fastest Way to Recall an Email?
The most efficient way is to use a send delay to unsend an Outlook email within the specified timeframe after you hit send.
How Do I Know if I Successfully Recalled an Email in Outlook?
When successfully recalling an email in Outlook, you’ll see a recall success note in front of the email’s subject.
Can You Recall an Email After an Hour?
Yes, provided the recipient hasn’t marked the email as read.
Save Some Face
The recall function in Outlook may have its faults, but it can still be a lifesaver to many people. It can be very frustrating when you can’t unsend an email, but at least you know how to recall an email in Outlook now.
The best strategy is to avoid sending a regrettable email in the first place. Try adding the email delay to help with this.
We have plenty of other guides to help improve your work life. Check some of them out below or browse our work efficiency section to become a workplace productivity master.
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Jake is a spreadsheet expert and content writer from New Zealand. He has a double Bachelor's Degree in Teaching and has been working in the education industry for over 11 years. His experience makes him adept at breaking down complex topics so that everyone is able to understand.