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How to recall an email in Outlook

Learn how to recall an email in Outlook and correct email mistakes effectively. Quick and easy guide for efficient communication.

First published

30.01.2024

Last edited

11.06.2024

Read time

6 minutes


    By Ilija

    An economist by degree, a marketing manager at heart. Seeing my website on the first page of Google is what excites me most. I write mostly about email productivity, email management and AI.

    Oops, sent the wrong email? Don't fret! Outlook's "Recall" feature is your lifesaver. Ever hit send on an email only to realize you attached the wrong document, forgot to add key information, or sent it to the wrong person entirely? We've all been there.

    This guide will walk you through the steps of recalling an email in Outlook, ensuring you catch those accidental sends before they cause any major mishaps.

    How to recall an email in Outlook easily

    Recall Outlook message

    Recall Outlook message - Classic view

    Follow these simple steps to recall an email in Outlook and save yourself from potential embarrassment or confusion.

    • 1. Open your Sent Items folder and find the email you want to recall.
    • 2. Double-click on the email to open it in a new window.
    • 3. Go to the "Message" tab at the top of the window and select "Actions" from the ribbon.
    • 4. In the drop-down menu, choose "Recall This Message."
    • If you have the simplified ribbon:
      • Click the ellipsis (...) button on the "Message" tab.
      • Click Actions, and then
      • Select "Recall This Message.

        Recall Outlook message - Simplified ribbon

        Recall Outlook message - Simplified view

    • 5. You'll then have the option to delete unread copies of the email or replace it with a new message. Choose the appropriate option and click "OK."
    • 6. If the email was successfully recalled, you'll receive a notification. Keep in mind that this feature only works if the recipient has not yet opened the email.

    By following these steps, you can quickly and easily recall an email in Outlook, preventing any potential email mistakes and maintaining professional communication. Remember to act fast, as the recall feature is only effective if the recipient hasn't seen the email yet.

    Related post: How to recall an email in Gmail

    The email recall function in Microsoft Outlook has specific requirements and limitations

    • This feature is only compatible with Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft 365 accounts.
    • It cannot be used with POP3 or MAPI email accounts.
    • For the recall to be effective, the recipient of the email must also be using either a Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365 account, and both the sender and recipient need to be within the same organization.

    How long does it take to recall an email in Outlook?

    To check on the recall in Outlook

    Source: Microsoft

    After initiating an email recall in Outlook, expect a notification email within 30 seconds. This email contains a link to view the recall report. Click it to see the report in your browser; you might need to log in. Recall attempts are quick, even for many recipients.

    View Message Recall Report

    Source: Microsoft

    If there's a delay, like an unavailable mailbox, Outlook retries for 24 hours. Updates on recall status are fast but can take a few minutes. For messages sent to hundreds or thousands of recipients, it may take longer, up to 30 minutes, to get all recall statuses.

    However, the exact timing can vary depending on factors like server speed and the recipient's email settings. It's important to note that if the recipient has already opened the email, the recall will not be successful. For that reason, the quicker the recall is initiated after sending the email, the higher the chance of it being successful.

    Can you replace an email in Outlook?

    Source: Microsoft

    Yes, in Microsoft Outlook, you have the option to replace an email that you have already sent. This is done using the recall feature. When you recall a sent email, you can choose to either delete the original email or replace it with a new message.

    This function is particularly useful if you need to correct or update the information in an email you've already sent.

    However, the success of replacing an email depends on several factors, including whether the recipient has already read the original email and the type of email accounts both the sender and recipient are using.

    How to set undo send In Outlook web version

    In Outlook.com, you can't recall an email once it's sent. For Outlook.com, Hotmail, Live, or MSN email addresses, there's no recall feature. But, you can set up 'Undo Send'. This delays sending your email for 5 or 10 seconds, giving you a chance to cancel it. To activate this:

    • Click Settings (gear icon) at the top.
    • Go to "View all Outlook settings."
    • Choose "Mail," then "Compose and reply."
    • Under "Undo send," pick your delay time.
    • Click "Save."

    Source: Microsoft

    When you send an email, you'll see an "Undo send" prompt for the duration you selected. This helps avoid accidental or premature sending.

    Why can't I recall a message in Outlook?

    To successfully recall a message in Outlook, several conditions must be met:

    • Exchange Server Requirement: Both sender and recipient must use Microsoft Exchange as their email server. Outlook recall doesn't work with other email systems or cloud-based email services.
    • Same Exchange System: Both parties must be on the same Exchange Server. Recall fails if the recipient uses a different server, POP3, IMAP, or web-based accounts (like Outlook.com).
    • Outlook Client Usage: The recipient must use Outlook as their email client, either Outlook 365 or the Outlook software client. The recall won't work with Outlook Web Access or other email clients like Gmail or Thunderbird.
    • Active Exchange Connection: The recipient needs an active Outlook Exchange connection. Recall fails if they're using Cached Exchange Mode or working offline.
    • Email in Inbox and Unread: The email must land in the recipient's Inbox and remain unread. Recall fails if it's read or moved by rules to another folder.
    • Limitations with Mobile Devices: Recall might not work properly if the recipient uses a different email client on their mobile device.
    • Non-Functional with Delegate or Shared Mailboxes: The recall won't work if the email is sent from a delegate or shared mailbox.
    • Public or Shared Folders: Emails sent to these folders might be read quickly, reducing recall chances.
    • Mobile Device Viewing: If the recipient views the message on their mobile device, it might be marked as read, making recall ineffective.

    Alternative methods if recall fails

    If you can't recall an email in Outlook, try these steps:

    • Acknowledge the Mistake: Quickly send a new email admitting the error. Explain what was wrong in the original email.
    • Use Email Management Tools: Outlook extensions like Mailbutler offer features like Smart Send Later, which can help manage email sending and avoid mistakes.
    • Apologize: Say sorry for any confusion or issues caused. Show that you understand the impact.
    • Correct and Explain: Clearly state the correct information. Explain how you'll avoid such mistakes in the future.
    • Offer Assistance: If the error caused problems, offer to help fix them.
    • Be Clear and Direct: Make sure your email is easy to understand.
    • Implement a Delayed Send Feature: Most email clients have options to delay sending, giving you time to review emails before they are sent.

    Recall emails in Outlook FAQs

    How do I recall an email in Outlook without recipients knowing?

    To recall an email in Outlook without the recipients knowing, you can use the 'Recall This Message' feature.

    After sending an email, go to the 'Sent Items' folder, right-click on the email you want to recall and select 'Recall This Message'. Choose to delete unread copies of this message or replace it with a new message.

    Make sure to uncheck the option 'Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient'. This will attempt to recall the email quietly, without notifying the recipients.

    However, the success of this process depends on various factors like whether the email has been opened or the recipient's settings.

    Recommended post: Create a distribution list in Outlook

    Can you recall or delete a sent email in Outlook?

    Unfortunately, you can't delete a sent email in Outlook once it's been sent. The email is essentially out of your hands once it hits the recipient's server. However, there is a lifeline called "Recall" that you can throw in an attempt to retrieve the email before the recipient reads it.

    Can you delete an email you sent in Outlook?

    No, you cannot directly delete an email you sent in Outlook once it's been sent. Once it leaves your outbox, it's beyond your control and resides on the recipient's server. However, there are a couple of options you can try:

    1. Recall the email (if possible)

    2. Contact the recipient directly

    3. Flag the email for yourself

    4. enable a delay send feature in Outlook

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