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How to Recall Messages in Outlook

2 minute read

foam envelope

You click “Send” and instantly realize it was a mistake. The email isn’t in your outbox anymore. What do you do?

If you’re lucky, the conditions might be right to use the message recall feature in Outlook. The video above will walk you through the recall steps in Outlook 2013 or 2016 (this option is not available in the Outlook Web App.):

  1. Open your sent item into a new window.
  2. Click the Actions button in the Move section.
  3. Select Recall This Message.
  4. If you want to recall your message altogether, so it will be deleted from the recipient’s mailbox, click Delete unread copies and replace with a new message.
  5. If you want to fix a typo, add an attachment, etc. and resend the message, click Delete unread copies and replace with a new message.
  6. Click OK. If you kept the box checked to receive notification if the recall succeeded or failed, you will receive an automated email informing you of the status.

Recall a message in Outlook

Ideally, the recipient of your message will open the recall notice, and the original message will automatically be deleted. But as mentioned, the conditions have to be right for the recall process to work.

Requirements for the recall process to be successful

  • Both users are on Exchange within the same organization. You can’t recall messages sent to email addresses outside your organization.
  • The recipient also must be using the Outlook desktop app, i.e. not Outlook Web App or a mobile version.
  • The original message must have arrived in the Inbox of the recipient, i.e. not diverted or filtered with a rule.
  • The original message must be unread, and the recipient must open the recall notice first, before the original message.

As you can see, many conditions have to be just right. Microsoft offers a thorough breakdown of some of the possible scenarios when using recall.

Regarding meeting all these conditions, the site mentions, “Chances are however that you won’t that lucky. To counter that, you could create a rule which delays sending all messages for 1 or 2 minutes so you have some time to react without seriously slowing down your regular communications. You can set it up 120 minutes if you want but that might be less practical.”

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