If you have a Microsoft Exchange email account, you can recall a message sent from your Outlook email in a few simple steps.
Email providers like Outlook and Gmail have a handy feature that allows you to edit or recall messages after you’ve sent them. This gives you an easy way to correct typos or amend the original message quickly, but there are some caveats.
First of all, the recall request must be initiated before the recipient opens and reads the email message, and you only have a short timeframe to use the feature. The rules differ based on what email service you are using.
Certain security settings on the sender or recipient’s end can also make a message recall attempt fail, so the safest move is to avoid sending an embarrassing email you may regret in the first place.
With all that in mind, let’s look at how to recall an email in Outlook and Gmail. We’ll also mention some differences in the capabilities of each.
- How to Recall Messages in Microsoft Outlook
- Recalling Emails in Gmail
- Gmail Has Limited Amount of Time to Recall
How to Recall Messages in Microsoft Outlook
According to Microsoft support, the recall feature is open to users who have a Microsoft Exchange email address. These may be provided by your workplace or internet service provider, and they are also available to all subscribers of Microsoft Office 365.
Assuming the feature is available to you, here are the steps to utilize it:
- In the folder pane on the left of the Outlook window, choose the Sent Items folder.
- Open the message that you want to recall. You must double click to open the message. Selecting the message so it appears in the reading pane won’t allow you to recall the message.
- If you have the Classic Ribbon, from the Message tab, select Actions > Recall This Message. If you have the Simplified Ribbon, select the Message tab and then select More commands (…). Point to Actions and select Recall This Message.
- Click Delete unread copies of this message or Delete unread copies and replace with a new message, and then click OK. You can also request a message to be sent informing you if the recall succeeds or fails.
- If you’re sending a new message to the same organization, compose the message and then click Send.
If you attempt a recall an email that has already been read by the recipient, even if it’s the wrong person, they will get a second message informing them of recall. And they will still have the original email, too. If you only edit your first email, both the amended version and the original remain in the recipient’s inbox.
Recalling Emails in Gmail
Gmail’s recall feature works differently than Microsoft Exchange, but it still lets you recall sent messages that have landed in a recipient’s mailbox.
Microsoft Exchange isn’t the email client with a recall option. Gmail can recall email, too, only its feature is labeled "unsend" or "undo send." Its recall process is only available for a very short time after an email hits the recipient’s inbox, so you must make the decision to do it fast.
If you decide you accidentally sent an email, or you sent it out to the wrong person, you have a short time to cancel it. According to Google support, right after you send a message, you can retract it:
- In the bottom left, you’ll see Message sent and the option to Undo or View message.
- Click Undo.
If you hit the recall message option in time, your email should be successfully recalled. If not, however, the recall failed.
Gmail Has Limited Amount of Time to Recall
Gmail also lets you adjust the amount of time a sent email is available to recall, but only up to 30 seconds.
On your computer, go to Gmail.
- In the top right, click Settings, See all settings.
- Next to Undo send, select a Send cancellation period of 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.
- At the bottom, click Save changes.
Now That’s Interesting
Why would you even need to recall an email in Outlook or Gmail? Maybe you sent it to the wrong person or you found a typo after the email was sent. If your recall attempt fails, perhaps an honest apology email is in order. Even if your email doesn’t really need one, an explanation can go a long way.