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How To Recall An Email In Outlook: Easy Guide

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featured image:How To Recall An Email In Outlook

Let’s face it, we’ve all accidentally hit send a bit too soon. But fear not, Outlook has a handy feature called “recall message” that can help you retrieve an email before the recipient opens it. Here’s the catch: it only works under certain conditions.

Before you get started

  • This feature only works on the desktop version of Outlook, not the web version.
  • It will only work if you and the recipient have Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365 accounts within the same organization. So, recalling emails to personal accounts like Gmail or Yahoo won’t work.

How to recall an email in Outlook

1. Open the Outlook desktop app and go to your Sent Items folder. This is where all the emails you’ve sent are stored.

How To Recall An Email In Outlook: step 1

2. Find the email you want to recall and double-click it to open it in a separate window.

3. Look for the Message tab at the top of the email window. Click on it if it’s not already selected.

How To Recall An Email In Outlook: step 2

4. Now, find the “Recall Message” button. In newer versions of Outlook, it might be right there on the ribbon. In older versions, you might need to click three dots (…) and then hover over Actions to find “Recall Message”.

How To Recall An Email In Outlook: step 3

5. A pop-up window will appear with two options:

6. Delete unread copies of this message: This will try to remove the email from the recipient’s inbox if they haven’t opened it yet.

Delete unread copies and replace with a new message: This will try to remove the original message and send a new one in its place.

How To Recall An Email In Outlook: step 4

Choose the option that works best for you. Here’s a tip: If you’re replacing the message, it’s a good idea to mark the checkbox that says “Tell me if recall succeeds or fails” so you know if it worked.

7. Click OK.

Keep in mind

Recalling an email isn’t a magic trick. There’s no guarantee it will work. If the recipient has already opened the email, you’re out of luck.

  • Even if the recall is successful, the recipient might still get a notification that a message was recalled from their inbox. This lets them know something was sent, even if they can’t see the content.
  • To increase your chances of success, consider marking the recall message with “URGENT” in the subject line to grab their attention before they open the original email.

If you can’t recall the message

  • If the “Recall Message” button is missing, it means recall isn’t available for your account or the recipient’s account.
  • Don’t panic! You can always try sending a new email to explain the situation and apologize for any confusion.

With these steps and understanding the limitations, you can hopefully use recall to save yourself from an embarrassing email mishap.

Alternatives to Email Recall

Let’s say you hit “recall” and… nothing. Maybe the recipient already opened the email, or maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Don’t panic! Here are a couple options to consider:

  • Send a follow-up email: If the original message wasn’t super sensitive, you can send a quick follow-up explaining the situation. This is a great way to clear the air and get the right information across.
  • Reach out directly: Depending on your relationship with the recipient, a quick call or message might be the best way to go. This is especially helpful if the original email was important or needed a quick fix.

A friendly explanation can go a long way, whether it’s in a follow-up email or a direct message.

Best Practices for Avoiding Email Mistakes

We’ve all been there: hitting send on an Outlook email and immediately realizing a mistake. Luckily, there’s email recall (if the stars align), but even better is avoiding the need for it altogether. Here are some best practices to keep your Outlook emails smooth sailing:

  • Proofread like a pro: This one seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating. Double-check everything from the recipient address (avoid those accidental replies-to-your-boss moments) to the subject line and email body. Typos happen, but a quick once-over can save you a world of trouble.
  • Don’t be hasty with the send button: Take a breath, especially if you’re composing an email while stressed or flustered. Rereading your email with fresh eyes can help you catch any errors or harsh tones you might have missed in the heat of the moment.
  • BCC for the win: Sending an email to a large group? Consider using BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) to hide recipient addresses from each other. This can help avoid unnecessary reply-all chains and protect individual privacy.
  • Think twice about hitting reply-all: Is everyone on the original email thread still relevant to the conversation? A well-placed reply-to can keep things organized and avoid cluttering inboxes for those not directly involved.
  • Preview before you send: Most versions of Outlook offer a preview pane that shows you how your email will look before it hits the recipient’s inbox. Use this to ensure proper formatting and catch any visual blunders.
  • Use templates for common emails: Do you find yourself sending similar emails frequently? Create templates in Outlook to save time and ensure consistency. You can then customize each template with specific details before sending.

Additional Considerations

  • Security and Permissions: Briefly mention that even with a successful recall, some recipients might still be able to see the original message if they have access to previously downloaded copies or server-side backups.
  • Legal Disclaimer: You can add a short disclaimer like “For legal advice regarding email recall and message confidentiality, consult with a professional.”

A little caution and double-checking can go a long way in maintaining clear and professional communication.

FAQs about Recalling Emails in Outlook

Can I recall an email after several hours have passed?

Maybe. Outlook tries to recall the message as long as the recipient hasn’t opened it. However, the success rate decreases the longer it’s been since you sent the email.

Will the recipient know if I recall an email?

There’s a chance. Even if the Outlook recall is successful, the recipient might see a notification in their inbox indicating a message was recalled. This lets them know something was sent, even if they can’t see the content. To increase your recall success rate, consider marking the recall message with “URGENT” in the subject line to grab their attention before opening the original email.

How do I recall an email I accidentally sent to the wrong person?

Here’s how to use the email recall feature in Outlook:

  1. Open the desktop Outlook client (recall isn’t available on the web version).
  2. Go to your “Sent Items” folder and find the mistaken email message.
  3. Double-click the message to open it.
  4. Click the “Message” tab and then select “Recall Message.”
  5. Choose “Delete unread copies of this message” to remove it from their inbox (if unopened).

Why can’t I recall a message in Outlook?

There are a few reasons:

  • Outlook version: Email recall only works on the desktop client, not the web version.
  • Account type: It requires both you and the recipient to have Microsoft Exchange email account or Microsoft 365 accounts within the same organization. Emails to external accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) can’t be recalled.
  • Message opened: If the recipient has already opened the message, recall won’t work.

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

Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to prevent the recipient from knowing an Outlook message was recalled. They might see a notification in their inbox. However, marking the recall message with “URGENT” in the subject line can increase your chances of them opening the recall message first.

How do I Unsend an email in Outlook?

Outlook doesn’t have an “Undo Send” function like some other email services. However, you can set up a delay for sending emails in Outlook.com (web version) which gives you a few seconds to cancel the Outlook email if you have second thoughts. This feature isn’t available in the desktop client.

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