How To Recall An Email In Outlook In 4 Easy Steps: A Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 September 2022

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Microsoft Outlook offers an email recall feature that lets users un-send or retract an email after sending it. It is a great workplace correspondence feature that lets you mix any mistakes you may make while composing an email. If you use Outlook, it may be helpful to know how this feature works and how it may help you in your workplace. In this article, we discuss the importance of the recalling feature, explain how to recall an email in Outlook, list situations where this may not work and provide some alternative solutions.

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Why Is It Important To Know How To Recall An Email In Outlook?

Knowing how to recall an email in Outlook can help you save time and prevent any unintended errors that you might have made in the original text. This can be helpful when professionals are typing fast or are in a rush and only notice the mistake just after sending it. This also ensures you can make any quick changes that may be necessary to make the email relevant and effective.

For instance, you may send an email without checking the recipients. You may hit 'Reply all' when you did not intend to or you may email the wrong recipient. Other examples may include typing the wrong email address, forgetting to attach a file, attaching incorrect files, addressing the wrong person, reconsidering what you said and discovering grammatical or spelling issues. Recalling helps you fix these mistakes and start afresh if required.

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How To Recall An Email In Microsoft Outlook?

You can follow these four easy steps to recall your Outlook email swiftly:

1. Locate the email

Locate the email you want to remove to begin the recall procedure. If you have recently sent the email, it may already be in your outbox. You can drag it to your 'Drafts' folder or delete it from the outbox itself. Sometimes, the email may be in your 'Sent items' if the recipient has already received it. Select the 'Sent items' folder on the Outlook window's left side. The email ought to be on top of the folder. Ensure you are picking the right email to retract. After that, you can double-click the email to open it.

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2. Select the recall feature

Only Microsoft Outlook versions from 2003 up to the current edition include the option to recall an email. Office 2007 users can choose the 'Message' tab from the toolbar, navigate to the 'Actions' area and select the letter-and-envelope-shaped button for 'More actions or other actions.' Then, you can choose the 'Recall this message' option from the drop-down menu. Otherwise, you can also choose the 'Messages' tab, scroll to the icon with three dots, click on 'Actions' and then click on the 'Recall this message' option if you have a streamlined toolbar.

With newer versions, users can choose the 'Sent items' folder and double-click to open the message they want to recall. You cannot recall the message after selecting it to appear in the reading pane. If you have the classic ribbon, pick the 'Message' tab, go to the 'Actions' or 'Move' tab and then select 'Recall this message'. If you have the simplified ribbon, choose the 'Message' tab, then choose 'More commands', point to 'Actions' and choose 'Recall this message'. In addition, you can choose 'File', click on 'Info', choose 'Message resend', go to 'Recall' and select 'Recall this message'.

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3. Delete the email

You might see a pop-up window on your computer asking you to select between 'Delete unread copies', 'Replace with a new message' or 'Delete unread copies of this message.' You can choose the button that best suits your requirements. If you want to simply delete the email you sent, choose the latter option.

Outlook may send the recipient a notification that you have retrieved an email from their inbox. Outlook can inform you if the recall procedure was successful. Check the box next to 'Tell me whether recall succeeds or fails for each recipient' if you wish to monitor the recall's progress.

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4. Consider replacing the email

If you still want to send the email but only after making some corrections or adjustments, select the 'Delete unread copies and replace with a new message' option. This lets you replace the email you just recalled by sending a brand-new one. Outlook provides a separate window for you to edit and replace the initial email. If the initial email contains any errors, you can correct them or add any attachments you may have forgotten. After finishing the new message, press the 'Send' button.

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Situations When Recalling May Not Work

The recall feature does not work in any of the following situations:

  • Either you or the recipient is not using Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365.

  • Both of you are not in the same organisation or using the same tenant.

  • You are in the same organisation but the feature is not available within the organisation.

  • You or the recipient is using Outlook on the web or on a mobile device.

  • Outlook is not your default email client.

  • The recipient's mailbox is not open when you attempt the recall.

  • They have already read the email.

  • A rule, spam filter or add-on inside the recipient's inbox has processed the email.

  • The recipient does not have the concerned setting enabled to allow recalling of received emails.

  • The email is an Azure Information Protection secured message.

  • your account is a messaging application programming interface (MAPI) or post office protocol (POP) account.

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Alternatives To Recalling Emails In Outlook

Recalling a message is usually successful when both you and the recipient meet some specific criteria. Even if it is successful, then the recipient gets a message notification about the recall, which can draw more attention to the deleted email. To avoid both scenarios, you can try one or more of these tactics:


The best way to avoid mistakes in emails is to read the email thoroughly a few times before sending them. If you are in a rush, you can type out your thoughts and save the email in the drafts folder. Later, when you have some time, you can go over the details of the email and make necessary changes before finally sending the email. Developing this habit can ensure you send emails accurately.

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Apology email

This is a simple fix, besides double-checking to make sure your emails are immaculate. You can save time and effort by admitting your error and offering a sincere apology to the recipient. Simply send a brief email of apology outlining what went wrong and asking them to delete any crucial attachments. An open apology may encourage reciprocal respect and trust, enabling them to move forward from the incident.

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Message postponing

Start postponing your emails if you frequently respond to emails, exchange sensitive information or are simply prone to errors. If you add a delay, you can prevent emailing immediately. By setting a specific email to be sent later or postponing the delivery of all emails, you can reduce the chances of making errors, as it provides you with the opportunity to identify mistakes or alter information before your email reaches the inbox of the desired recipient.

You can enable this for your Outlook emails by opening the 'File' option in the top-left. Choose 'Manage rules and alerts' and select 'New rule'. Select 'Apply rule to texts I send' and hit 'Next'. Click 'Next' again, then click 'Yes' and select 'Defer delivery by a number of minutes'. Click on the checkbox and set the number of minutes to wait before sending the email. After selecting 'Next', you can edit your rule-set to include any exceptions and then select 'Next' once again. Then name the delay and click on the 'Turn on this rule' option and press 'Finish'.

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Undo send

If you use Outlook on the web, you can undo a sent email by adding a buffer of five to ten seconds before the email gets delivered. To enable this, click on the 'Settings' gear, select 'All Outlook settings' and choose the category 'Compose and reply'. Go to the 'Undo send' section, add a buffer of a maximum of ten seconds and select 'Finish' to save. For instance, if you choose a five-second buffer, it means you have five seconds after sending the email to click 'Undo' and retrieve the email.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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