How to Recall an Email in Outlook: The Ultimate Guide to Unsend and Replace

Picture this: Your hands are still hovering over the keyboard when a sudden realization dawns. An email was sent to the wrong recipient. An attachment is forgotten. Your heart sinks. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? If only there was an “unsend” button… Well, if you’re an Outlook user, there’s good news. The recall feature in Outlook offers the luxury of unsending and replacing an email. So, grab your cup of coffee, sit back, and join us as we guide you through the process of recalling an email in Outlook.


Step-by-step Guide to Recall an Email in Outlook

Time needed: 10 minutes

  1. Find the Message

    Launch your Outlook app and locate the Folder Panel on the left. Click on “Sent Items”, where you’ll find all your previously sent emails. Scroll through and find the email you wish to recall.

  2. Open the Message

    Once you’ve found your regrettable email, double-click it to open it in a new window. Be careful! Simply selecting the email won’t give you the recall option.

  3. Access the Recall Option

    This step depends on whether you’re using the Simplified Ribbon or the Classic Ribbon in Outlook. If it’s the former, click the “Message” tab and select the vertical ellipsis (…) after the “Report Message” command. If you’re using the Classic Ribbon, select the “Message” tab. In both cases, you’ll see the “Actions” command.

  4. Recall the Message

    Now that you’ve navigated to the Actions command, click on “Recall this message”. Note that if you can’t see this option, it might be due to your organization’s policy or server settings.

  5. Choose Your Action

    In the Recall This Message dialog box, you’ll see two options. You can either delete the email silently from the recipient’s folder or replace it with a new email. Choose your preferred action and click “Ok”.

Prerequisites to Recall an Email in Outlook

Before you rush off to unsend your emails, keep in mind that there are certain conditions for the recall feature to work:

  1. Both sender and receiver must be using a Microsoft Exchange server or Office 365 Outlook email account.
  2. The sender and receiver should belong to the same organization.
  3. The recipient mustn’t have opened the email.
  4. Automation rules like folder assignment didn’t interfere with the email.
  5. The email isn’t shielded by Azure Information Protection service.

So, mostly, business users get the benefit of the recall feature. However, if you’re using a work or school account, and the recipient belongs to the same entity, you can probably recall your emails without a hitch.

What If You Can’t Unsend an Email?

Let’s face it, not every email can be recalled. If the recipient opens the message before you get a chance to recall it, the feature won’t work. What to do then? Schedule your messages. By scheduling your emails, you can review them before they’re sent out, making it less likely that you’ll need to recall them.

To schedule emails on Outlook, follow these steps:

  1. Click on “Files” at the top right corner of the screen
  2. Click on “Rules & Alerts”
  3. Select “New Rule” and then “Apply rules on messages I send”
  4. Don’t input anything in the “Edit the rule” box, just click next, and confirm your choice
  5. Click on “defer delivery by several minutes”, and input how long you want your messages to be delayed
  6. Name this Rule and click finish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Let’s address some burning questions about recalling emails in Outlook:

Can I recall and replace my message after the recipient opens it?

Unfortunately, no. You need to recall the message before the recipient opens it

Will recalling email messages work every time?

There are factors that can hinder your recall success, hence scheduling messages as a precautionary measure is advised.

Will my recipient know that I recalled a message?

Yes, your recipient will receive a notification informing them that you deleted a message.

How do I know if I have recalled a message?

A successful recall will remove the message from your sent folder and place it in your drafts.

How do I resend a recalled message?

Once you’ve tweaked your recalled message to satisfaction, you can resend it. For Mac, right-click the message and click resend. For Windows, click File, then go to Info, and click Resend and Recall.

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Final thoughts

Emails are an indispensable part of our professional lives. A typo, misplaced attachment, or the wrong recipient can lead to embarrassing and sometimes costly mistakes. Thankfully, with Outlook’s recall feature, you can take back those errors, or even better, replace them with the correct information.

But remember, the key to avoiding such errors lies in careful review before hitting send. The recall feature should be a safety net, not your regular modus operandi. Be it sending, recalling, or replacing emails, Outlook provides a comprehensive suite of options to ensure your professional communication remains seamless and error-free.

It’s never too late to learn more about Outlook’s nifty features. Want to change your signature in Outlook or explore its other features? Check out our other articles for more valuable insights and step-by-step guides. Your journey to becoming an Outlook power user starts here!

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