How to Recall Emails in Outlook - Stopping Your Workplace Email Nightmare

March 6, 2020
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

We have all done it at some point in our lives; sending the wrong emails to the wrong people. The art of recalling emails is essential in the modern-day whereby confidentiality and access of information are vital towards compliance in the workplace. With this guide, you will learn to become proficient to recall emails in Outlook.

Why do we need to recall emails?

This occurs when you have forgotten to include relevant information or discovered an error in the message you have written. It is also commonplace that you may not have selected the right recipients.

This is important because there are instances whereby information leak to the wrong party in the organisation may be a breach of compliance, instigating action against you.

Hence, one must be sharp to recall sent messages swiftly and decisively.

How to recall an email in Outlook?

1. Upon starting Outlook, select the “Sent Items” tab located on the navigation panel at the left-hand side of the application

Sent items

2. Open the message that you have sent

3. From message, select “Actions” and then “Recall this message”

4. Select “Delete unread copies of this message” if you do not intend to replace the message

Recall This Message Function

5. Click “Ok

6. If replacing your message, compose it and click “Send”

Would the recipient know if I have recalled my email?

It varies depending on the message settings set by the recipient.

In general, if the original message has not been read, then the recipient will not be able to read the message but receive an update that the message has been deleted. The original message will also be deleted.

However, if the original message has been read or marked as “read” by the recipient, you will be unable to recall the message even if you had performed the necessary steps. Should you continue to attempt to recall the message, the recipient will be notified of your attempt through Outlook as well.

Special situation: If the recipient has moved the original message out of the inbox into another specified folder, then the email recall will fail. The recipient obtains both the original and the edited message while receiving notification if you had attempted to recall the message. 

Do note that the recipient may have a special rule created on his or her Outlook which moves your email into another folder automatically which hinders your attempt at recalling the email.

Best practices to prevent yourself from failing to recall messages

Check, check and check!

Make sure that the intended recipient(s), title and message content are correct before sending them off. Double-check, if not, triple-check to ensure that you do not land yourself in hot soup.

Delay and schedule messages on Outlook - the cheat code

This sets a timer for your emails so that they are not sent immediately. Avoid the counterproductivity or embarrassing nature of sending an incorrect email by scheduling or delaying messages to be sent.

1. Click “New Email”

2. Click “Options Tab”

3. Click “Delay Delivery”

4. Select the time and date after “Do not deliver before”


5. Click “Send”

Alternatively, you may set a rule for all emails to be sent after 5 minutes

1. Go to “Home” and click “Rules”

2. Select “Manage Rules and Alerts”

3. From “Email Rules”, select “New Rules” followed by “Start from a blank rule” and “Apply on rules I sent”

 4. Select “Next” until you reach the “Actions page”

5. In the “Actions page”, check “Defer delivery by ___ minutes” and enter however long you require.

Rules Wizard

6. Press “Next” until you “Finish”

Other useful functions on Outlook that ensure you don’t miss a thing

File attachment reminder

If you include the words “attachment” or “attached”, Outlook will remind you that you have forgotten to attach a file. In these scenarios, you have the option of halting your message, attach the file before sending it off.

Travel reservation reminder

Outlook also reminds you if you have received travel reservations via email. Examples of these include hotel stays, car bookings or flight reservations which pop-up as reminders before the critical dates arrive.

Item alerts

Outlook also presents a cool function of alerting you when the message received meets a certain criterion or several criteria. These alerts will pop-up over what you are currently working on and can be accessed through the “Display a Desktop Alert” button.

How to access desktop alerts?

  1. Select “File” followed by “Options” and “Mail”
  2. In the tab called “Message Arrival”, check the “Display a Desktop Alert” checkbox and press “Ok”

Desktop alerts can display the most important information regarding an email including the sender’s name, title and first two lines of the message.

With these tips and tricks, we hope that you will not face an email horror story at the workplace. Recall Emails now. Share these with your friends and colleagues so that nobody gets in trouble! 

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