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How to recall an email in Outlook


Email popup on a laptop on a table with a coffee mug.

Image: Shutterstock

We’ve all felt the fear of sending an email too early, without the proper attachment, or to the completely wrong person, and then having to quickly craft an anxious email with a creative excuse — or simply succumb to embarrassment.

Microsoft Outlook is one of the few email platforms that allow you to recall emails. With this feature, you won’t have to feel as fearful of your Monday brain and can move on with your week mistake-free.

It’s important to address a few feature requirements and caveats. First, for the recall and resend feature to work:

  • Both you and your recipient must have Microsoft Outlook email addresses.
  • The email can only be recalled if it was not read or opened by the recipient.
  • The permanent recall feature is only available on a PC. Mac users will have to resort to the Undo toggle, which gives you up to a 10-second grace period to edit or rescind an email after sending it. I’ll explain how to do that later in the article.

With that said, keeping in mind when you can use it, it’s a great feature.

Also: How to encrypt your email and why you should

How to recall an email in Outlook

In your inbox, click on the tab on the very left side of your screen labeled Sent Items. Then, select the email you want to recall. It should expand onto the right side of the window.

Location of Sent Items in Outlook.

The Sent Items feature is located between the Inbox and Drafts.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

Also: How to add an email signature in Outlook

In the upper left corner of the Outlook app, select the File tab and a drop-down menu will appear. From there, select Info.

Location of file tab in Outlook.

You can find the Files tab in the upper left-hand corner.

Screenshot by Addison Murray/ZDNET

The Info menu will show a few options. Go toward the bottom of the list and select Message Resend and Recall.

Info page showing Message Resend and Recall.

To find the Message Resend and Recall options, go to the Info menu.

Screenshot by Addison Murray/ZDNET

Once you click on the Message Resend and Recall option, choose whether you want to delete unread copies of the message (recall) or delete unread copies and replace the message with a new one (replace). Select the option that works best for your circumstances.

A confirmation dialog will pop up with a box you can check at the bottom to be notified if the recall succeeds or fails for each recipient. If you want to know, check the box and then click OK.

Dialog box for Resend or recall feature in Outlook.

Screenshot by Addison Murray/ZDNET
Recall This Message feature in Outlook.

Screenshot by Addison Murray/ZDNET

If you wanted to compose a new message, write your new copy and hit Enter when prompted.

New recall message in Outlook.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

A note about recall settings

Recalls are not guaranteed. A recall could fail depending on your recipient’s settings in Outlook. For example, if the recipient has the “Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls” box checked under their tracking settings, the recipient will be informed that you, the sender, deleted a message from their inbox.

Also: Microsoft found a new way to anger customers, are you surprised?

How to turn on the Undo feature on Mac

As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, there is no way to recall and replace emails on a Mac. However, you can enable an undo feature that gives you 10-second grace period to unsend an email should you catch any mistakes.

Here’s how.

1. Go to Settings

At the top of your mailbox, go to the Settings icon (gear) and then select the “View all Outlook Settings” option.

2. Select the “Compose and reply” option

Once you see the menu of settings options, select the Compose and reply tab. Scroll to find the Undo send option.

Undo send option in Outlook.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

3. Set your grace period and save

Under the Undo send tab, move the notch on the line to adjust how much time you want to be able to undo a message. Then press Save. If you find yourself occasionally making typos or mistakes, then setting the meter to the maximum (10 seconds) is best.

4. Select Undo

As a test, you can send an email to a friend or to yourself to get a sense of how long the grace period actually lasts. If you don’t want the message to go through, select Undo and the email will reappear as an unsent draft.

Selecting Undo on Outlook.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

FAQ

How long do you have to recall an email after you send it?

You can recall a message up until the recipient has read it, so the sooner the better.

Does the recipient know if an email is recalled?

That depends on their settings. It’s possible the recipient could get a notification that something from their inbox has been deleted.

Can you recall an Outlook email on a Mac?

Unfortunately, no. As shown in the images above, you can, however, enable the Undo send option by going to Settings > View all Outlook Settings > Compose and reply > Undo Send > Set the seconds you have to undo > Save.



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