Oh no, you just hit send on an email and now you realize it had a mistake!
No worries, it’s like hitting a reset button, so sit back and relax. In this post, you will learn how to recall an email in Outlook.

How to recall an email in Outlook

How many times did you think you could have done that differently in the past?
What if I tell you about the “superpower” in Outlook that allows you to change the past?
Let me introduce you to the recall an email functionality. Just one click and you can change the past, how cool is that!

What does recalling an email mean?

You can understand recalling an email as the attempt to retrieve an already sent email from the recipient’s inbox and if needed replaced it with the “correct” version of the email.

In simple words,
when recalling an email, you would be (in most cases) able to remove the email from your Inbox recipient.
There may be different reasons why you would like to recall an email.

Why recall an email

You don’t realize the importance of the need of recalling an email until you notice you made a mistake while sending an email. Most of the common reasons why to recall an email are:

Mistaken Recipient:
Ouch, you included the manager of your manager on a draft email.
No worries, this can happen.
Recalling the email functionality can prevent sharing sensitive or not fully ready information from being seen by unintended recipients.

Incorrect Information:
You realized the number in the report is incorrect, and this could significantly have consequences on the business and decisions done by leadership.
You can simply recall your email to prevent your counterparts to rely on and act on false information.

Typographical Errors:
Writing too fast and you realize there are a few typos here and there making your email look not very professional.
By recalling an email with typos, you can prevent such situations.
And remember, everyone at some point makes typos. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Second Thoughts:
Sometimes, after sending an email, you think you could pass the message in a different way. And you would like to change the tone, add, or remove information, or simply rephrase it. Recalling an email allows you to remove the previous message and replace it with a new one.

Now that you know a few situations when you may want to consider recalling an email in Outlook,
let’s see how to recall an email in Outlook.

Step by step on how to recall an email in Outlook

Recalling an email in Outlook can be a little bit tricky for the first time,
you can follow the sequence of:
Open the email you have just sent (and you want to recall) > Actions > Recall this message > Delete Unread Copies of This Message

Let’s see it in detail, how to do it step by step:

Go to your Sent Items – you will find there all the emails you sent.

Open the email that you want to recall

Click on Actions

Few options will appear

Edit Message
This option allows you to make whatever changes you want (typos, comments, dates…).
Once done, Outlook will ask you if you would like to save the changes, by clicking yes, you will see in the email the edits that you did.

Note: By using this option the email will not be recalled.

Recall This Message
By clicking this option, there are two potential ways to go.

Option: Delete unread copies of this message
The preferable option is if you only want to recall the email.
By ticking the box “Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient” you will know if the recall was successful or not.
Note: The recall of emails does not always work, as it depends on the setups of the recipients.

Option: Delete unread copies and replace them with a new message
The main difference with the previous option is that email will be recalled, and you will be sending a new email instead.

Resend This Message
The resend functionality allows you to send the same message to new recipients.
The main difference between resending an email and forwarding an email is that
when you are resending a message there is no added information as it is the case when you are forwarding an email.
How does it work?
Once you click on “Resend This message”, you will be able to add new recipients, remove the old ones and even amend the original email by amending the content (both the text and the attachments)

Note: By using this option the email will not be recalled.

View in Browser
What is written in the description, is exactly what it means,
by clicking this option your email will be displayed in your preference browser (Chrome, Edge …)

Note: By using this option the email will not be recalled.

Other Actions
If what you are looking for is recalling an email, this is not the place.
None of the actions offered under Other Actions will allow you to recall your email.
You can do different things such as save attachments, display/hide the header of your email and even get the HTML of your email.

What to check prior to sending an email

A recent study from Templafy concludes that,
an average office worker receives 121 emails per day while sending an average of 40 emails daily.

To make sure, you master those 40 emails that you send daily,
these are the key elements that you may want to consider prior to clicking Send the next time you will prepare an email.

Is there everyone that you need to be included in the distribution list?
Make sure you have added the correct email addresses of the people to who you want to receive your email. Careful especially not to include people who are not intended to receive the email

Include a precise and concise subject line in your email. Avoid vague email subjects such as excel1.xlx, and summary….
By including a clear and concise subject line makes it easier for the recipient to understand the purpose of your email.
Examples of good subject lines:

  • Approval – Budget business trips FY23
  • Action needed – Root cause service cuts in brand X
  • Next steps – Brainstorming reduce attrition in the organization

Less is more.
Proofread that your message is clear, to the point concise, and professional.
Check for any grammatical or spelling errors, you can do it yourself or you can use AI such as Grammarly to help you on the way.

Whenever you plan to attach a file, make sure you include the word “Attachment” in the body of the email. Outlook has the functionality that if you type a such a word and there is no attachment a pop-up message will appear reminding you that you may want to attach a file.

Always sign your emails.
Why do it? Including your signature makes your emails trustworthy.
Showing your recipients who they are getting the email from.
Make sure you include your name, surname, email, and job title.
You can include your signature in Outlook by doing Insert > Signature or by using the shortcut: Alt + n + a + s.
Discover the best Outlook shortcuts here. https://misterpaton.com/best-outlook-shortcuts/

What to do if the recipient already opened the email in Outlook and you want to recall it

Unfortunately, if the recipient has already opened your message in Outlook, there is not much you can do and this point in time.
If there is any “wrong” information,
make sure you either send an email on top of the “wrong” email or you drop a message in Teams to let them know about the “wrong” information included in the email you can’t recall it.

For the future,
you may want to consider delaying the deliver of your email in Outlook.

Microsoft approach towards recalling emails in Outlook

According to Microsoft support, the recall feature is open to users who have a Microsoft Exchange email address. Normally most of the corporations are using the Microsoft Exchange service.
Thus if you are using your corporative Outlook account at work, most likely the recall functionality in Outlook is available for you.

FAQ how to recall an email in Outlook

Some of the most frequent questions regarding the recall functionality in Outlook.

Can you recall an email already sent?

Yes, you can recall an email already sent. You can simple do it by opening the email you have just sent (and you want to recall) > Actions > Recall this message > Delete Unread Copies of This Message. This way the email you have just sent will be recalled.

Why recalling an email in Outlook will not always work

Recalling emails in Outlook is not always guaranteed.
There are various reasons why the recall of an email could fail.
For example, if the recipient has the “Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls” box checked, the recipient will be informed that a message was deleted from their inbox.  

Why can’t I recall an email in Outlook?

There are various reasons why you can’t recall an email in Outlook. If the recipient already opened the email, you will not be able to recall it. If the recipient checked the box: “Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls”, recipient will be informed when an email was deleted from his/her inbox.

Can you recall email after 1 hour?

Yes, you can. Not only after 1 hour, if the recipient didn’t open the message, you will be able to recall it. The faster, the higher the chances that your email will be recalled successfully.
Remember, once the email is opened, the recall functionality will not work.

Does the recipient know if an email is recalled in Outlook?

No, if the original message is never opened, the recipient will never know that an email is recalled. They will just see the second email you’ve sent instead of the original email.

Leave a Reply