How to Recall Email in Outlook (Preventing that Oh Crap Moment)

Arman Castillote

Read more posts by this author.

Have you accidentally sent an email to someone? It could be nerve-wracking, especially if it’s a costly mistake on your part. So is there a way to take back that email? Yep, Outlook’s Email Recall feature can help pull you out of that “Oh Crap” moment.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to recall an email and the conditions for the recall to be successful. Ready?

Let’s dive in!

Prerequisites

This tutorial comprises step-by-step instructions. Make sure you have the requirements below to follow along:

Recalling Email in Outlook

Imagine unintentionally sending a vulgar email to a public folder or mailbox—awkward, right? Well, you can still take it back with the Outlook email recall feature by following the steps below.

1. Launch Outlook.

2. Navigate to your Sent Items folder, select an email you’d like to recall and open it. From the image below, the top email is ideal for a recall as it was sent to a Microsoft Exchange account.

Accessing Sent Items Folder
Accessing Sent Items Folder

3. Now, click on the Message tab. Then, inside the Move section in the toolbar, click on the more move actions button and choose Recall this Message.

Accessing Recall Message Menu
Accessing Recall Message Menu

4. Select an option you’d like to apply to this recalled email message and click OK, as shown below.

  • Delete unread copies of this message – This option completely deletes the selected email from the recipient’s inbox.
  • Delete unread copies and replace with a new message – This option opens the message composer window and lets you write a new message to replace the original message. Once you send the new message, the selected email is deleted from the recipient’s inbox and replaced with the new one.
  • Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient – This option sends an email to yourself notifying you of the result of the recall process
Email Recall Options
Email Recall Options

Confirming the Email Recall’s Result

Of course, you need to know if you successfully recalled the email! Provided that you checked the option, Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient, you will receive the result in your Inbox folder, as shown below.

Note that the result notification is delayed when the recipient is not signed in on Outlook or works offline while in Cached Exchange Mode.

Email Recall Results
Email Recall Results

Factors Causing Email Recall Failure

An email recall may not work 100% of the time. Why? The success or failure of the email recall depends on the recipient’s Outlook settings. When an email recall fails, both the original and recall message remains in the recipient’s inbox.

Many factors are at play when recalling an Outlook email, such as the email’s read status, whether you sent the email to a private or public folder, and more. Let’s go over these factors.

The Recipient has Already Read the Email

If you attempt to recall an email sent to a mailbox and the email is already marked as read in the recipient’s mailbox, the recall will fail. The recall fails even if the recipient marked the email back as unread.

Attempting to recall an email sent to a public folder would likely fail. Why? Since more than one person can access a public folder, chances are someone who has access to the folder already marked the email as read.

The “Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls” Option is Disabled

The Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls feature automatically accepts meetings and polls, preventing them from showing up in your inbox. But this feature is also one factor that affects the email recall process.

When you attempt to recall an email from a recipient’s mailbox while the Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls feature is disabled on the recipient’s end, the recipient will receive a recall message, as shown below.

Original and Recall Message
Original and Recall Message

You’re lucky if the recipient first opens the recall message, the recall will be successful. But if the recipient is curious enough to open the original message first, the recall will fail. When the recall fails, you’ll receive an email saying that the recall failed, then both the original and recall messages will remain in the recipient’s inbox.

The Original Email Is Out of The Recipient’s Inbox

Whether by a rule or if the recipient manually moved the original email to a different folder, you cannot recall the email unless the recall message is in the same folder.

The Email is Protected with Azure Information Protection (AIP)

If you sent the email protected with Azure Information Protection (AIP), the email recall will fail. AIP is a cloud-based solution that applies sensitivity labels to data or content.

One example of an AIP-protected email is a nasty encrypted email that you intended to send to a workmate but ended up in your boss’s mailbox. Too bad there’s no way to recall the email. If you’re the type of person who tends to send an email often hastily, look into Outlook’s Delay Delivery feature.

Recalling an Email in Outlook.com

When you don’t have an Outlook client on your computer, you’d typically use Outlook.com. Unfortunately, email recall is not available for Outlook.com, where users have email addresses ending in @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, or @msn.com as they are web-based email services.

Once you send an email using a web-based email service, it’s already out of your control as it’s gone from your server. But while email recall is not available in Outlook.com, you can still temporarily delay sending an email using the Undo send option.

1. Open up your favorite web browser and log in to Outlook.com.

2. Get to the Outlook settings by clicking on the gear icon at the top-right part of the page, as shown below. Then click on View all Outlook settings at the bottom.

Accessing All Outlook Settings
Accessing All Outlook Settings

3. Click on the Mail section, click on Compose and reply and scroll down to the Undo send section. Choose how long Outlook would delay sending your email by adjusting the slider, as demonstrated below. The maximum delay for email delivery is 10 seconds.

Accessing Undo Send Feature
Accessing Undo Send Feature

4. Finally, send an email to anyone and you’ll see the Undo option in the lower-left part of the page, as shown below. Click on the Undo button to cancel the email and prevent a potentially costly mistake!

Undo Sending Email
Undo Sending Email

Conclusion

Though there are caveats, Outlook email recall is an incredibly useful tool! Under the right circumstances, recalling emails is quick and easy, which is brilliant and a lifesaver. Would you rely on the email recall the next time you accidentally sent an email to someone?

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