Have you ever sent an email and immediately wished you could take it back? Well, you’re in luck because Outlook has a feature that lets you do just that – recall your sent email. This handy feature can be a lifesaver, especially if you catch the mistake quickly and your recipient hasn’t opened the email yet.
In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need about recalling emails in Outlook, whether using the desktop app, Outlook.com, or an older version on your PC, and explain why email recalls might not always work. We’ll also discuss how you can delay your email delivery to double-check everything even after you have sent it.
Table of Contents
- What does it mean to recall an email in Outlook?
- How to recall an email in the Outlook desktop app?
- Recall an email in Outlook.com (on the web)
- Recall and email in Outlook older version on the PC
- Why recalling an email in Outlook doesn’t always work?
- Instead of recalling an email, try the Delivery Delay feature
- Can you recall an email with other email clients?
- Final Thoughts
What does it mean to recall an email in Outlook?
When you recall an email in Outlook, you’re trying to unsend an email you just sent, hoping the person hasn’t seen it yet. This is helpful if you realize you sent a message that’s not finished, forgot to attach something important, or sent the email to the wrong person. Microsoft Outlook gives you two ways to fix this:
- Delete the message from the recipient’s inbox: Selecting this option means the person won’t see the original email anymore because it gets taken out of their inbox.
- Send a new corrected email to replace the old one: With this choice, you can fix any mistakes or add anything you forgot and send it again.
It’s important to know that getting back an email like this only works if you and the recipient use Microsoft Exchange accounts or Office 365. Also, you can do this in Outlook versions from 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 and Outlook 365.
How to recall an email in the Outlook desktop app?
To recall an email in Outlook on your desktop, both you and the person receiving the email need to have a few things in common:
- You both should be using PCs because this feature is not available on Mac.
- You should be using the Outlook desktop app. Neither the web version nor the mobile app supports this feature.
- Both of you must have Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365 accounts.
- You both should be part of the same organization, meaning your email addresses end with the same (custom) domain.
Note: If you’re using a MAPI or POP account for your email, you won’t be able to recall the email.
If all of these conditions are met, you can recall the email you sent by mistake. Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1: Open sent items
Open Outlook and, on the left side of your screen, click “Sent Items” to view all the emails you have sent.
Step 2: Find the email you want to recall
Search for the Outlook message you want to recall and double-click on it to open it in a new window.
Step 3: Recall the email
Ensure you are on the “Message” tab at the top of the email window. Click on the “File” on the top left side of the toolbar, hover your mouse over “Resend and Recall,” and then choose “Recall this message.”
If you can’t find the three dots, click on “Move” from the toolbar, select “Actions,” and then “Recall this message.”
Step 4: Choose the recall option
A new window will pop up, and you can choose one of the following:
- “Delete unread copies of this message.”
- “Delete unread copies and replace them with a new message.”
You also have the option to get a notification from Outlook telling you if the recall worked or not. Make your choices and click “OK.”
Step 5: Edit the email
Outlook opens a second screen to work on your message if you decide to replace the email. When you’re done fixing your email, click “Send.”
Step 6: Confirmation
Check the box, “Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient.” After that, select “OK.”
Note: Choosing “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message” replace with the original email for you to make changes. Once you click “Send,” the old email will be removed from the recipient’s mailbox and replaced with your updated version.
Recall an email in Outlook.com (on the web)
You might want to use the recall email feature if you accidentally sent an email using Outlook.com or any of its web-based counterparts like @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, or @msn.com.
Unfortunately, recall a message isn’t available in these cases. Once you hit the send button on these web-based email services, the email is immediately sent off, leaving your email server, and it’s no longer in your hands to pull it back.
Recall and email in Outlook older version on the PC
Many people remain loyal to older versions of their preferred software, appreciating the classic design they offer. If you find yourself in this group using an outdated version of Outlook and Office (version 2007 or later), don’t worry – you still can recall and modify a message.
First, navigate to “Mail,” and from the Navigation Pane, click on “Sent Items.” You need to open the message you wish to recall and replace. On the “Message” tab, locate the “Actions” group.
Within that, click “Other Actions,” then choose “Recall This Message.” You will have two options: “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message” or simply “Delete unread copies.”
If you opt to replace the message, proceed to compose your new message. Once satisfied with the adjustments, click “Send” to complete the process. This approach ensures that even with an older version of the software, you can control your sent emails and correct them as needed.
Why recalling an email in Outlook doesn’t always work?
Trying to take back an email in Outlook doesn’t always work perfectly, and it’s important to know why. The process will not be successful if:
- Both you and your recipient(s) are not using Exchange or Microsoft 365.
- Everyone involved is not part of the same organization.
- The recipient has already read the email.
- The original email was moved from the inbox to another folder, possibly due to an inbox rule (the recipient can see both the original email and the recall notification).
- Or you’re using Outlook Web Access.
Outlook will not allow you to recall the email if these conditions are unmet.
Instead of recalling an email, try the Delivery Delay feature
If you can’t recall an email or just want a workaround to ensure you send perfect emails to the right contacts, you can try delaying the delivery. To establish a delay for all your sent emails in Outlook, giving you a valuable window of time to rethink your message, you can follow these clear steps:
- Navigate to the Home tab in Outlook, find “Rule” on the toolbar, and select “Manage Rules & Alerts.”
- A new window will pop up; choose “New Rule.”
- Now, click “Apply rule on messages I send” and select “Next.”
- If you intend to have this delay rule cover all your outgoing emails, hit “Next” once again to skip the following window. A confirmation prompt will appear, asking if you want to apply this rule to every email you send. Confirm your choice by clicking “Yes.”
- Next, find and select the checkbox that mentions deferring delivery by a certain number of minutes and click “Next.”
- In the text below, there will be a clickable link. Click it and write the number of minutes you’d like to wait after sending an email (you can delay up to 120 minutes).
- The next window provides an opportunity to set exceptions to this delay rule, such as for emails to a particular recipient who requires immediate responses. Click “Next” after setting up any exceptions.
- To finish, click on the “Finish” button. Your emails will now be held for the specified time before they are sent out.
It’s important to be mindful that introducing a delay will naturally cause a slight slowdown in your email communications. A delay of about 5 to 10 minutes is typically acceptable for re-evaluating your message or catching potential errors.
Can you recall an email with other email clients?
Like Outlook, other email clients also offer features to help you fix email mistakes. Gmail, for instance, has an “Undo Send” feature. Instead of recalling a sent email, it holds off on sending your email for a short period. This gives you a chance to stop the send if you need to.
Yahoo Mail doesn’t offer a similar tool to take back an email. It’s impossible to recall an email sent in Yahoo Mail, but saving a draft of your email lets you revisit and edit the content to ensure it’s perfectly worded.
Apple Mail has you covered, too, with its Undo Send. But it also doesn’t let you recall the email fully. You can set up a delay for all your outgoing emails to give you that extra time to change your mind. Just click Undo Send on the sidebar’s bottom part within 10 seconds of sending your email. Alternatively, you can select Edit > Undo from the menu.
Knowing how to recall an email in Outlook is an invaluable skill. This feature can be a game changer, particularly when an email gets sent prematurely.
It’s crucial to remember that recalling an email in Outlook isn’t foolproof and depends on various factors. Setting up a delay for outgoing emails is a helpful strategy for users looking for a safety net.
To find out if recalling a message worked, look for a new email with “Message Recall Report” as the subject. This tells you the recall was a success. You usually get this email in less than 30 seconds, but it might take longer if you recall a message sent to many people.
Email recall is only possible on Outlook for Windows, not on Outlook.com. For the web-based version, you can use “undo, send” to cancel an email within five to ten seconds after sending it.
Unfortunately, the recall feature isn’t available in Outlook if you are on a Mac. You can use the Undo feature as an alternative.
The time it takes to recall an email in Outlook varies. Depending on factors like email size and the number of recipients, it could be a few seconds to a few minutes. A larger email or more recipients means a longer recall time.
Yes, an email recall in Outlook can fail. It often happens if the recipient opens the email before it gets recalled. Another possible issue is if the recipient has a rule set up to move emails to a different folder right after receiving them.