How to Recall an Email in Outlook and Gmail (2023 Guide)
Sending emails is part of our daily lives, whether communicating with colleagues or sending messages to friends and family.
Various marketing automation software uses email templates to deliver content while making our lives easier.
Gmail Add-ons, extensions, and apps help with a wide range of productivity tasks – from managing your to-do list to scheduling emails to be sent later.
While most of us are careful about what we include in an email, there are times when we make mistakes or hit the send button too quickly without proofreading the message.
Like most people, you’ve probably sent an email you wish you could take back at least once.
Fortunately, there are ways to recall emails in both Outlook and Gmail.
In this article, I’ll show you how to do it for both email clients.
While the methods I’ll describe have a pretty good success rate, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work every time as a recall fails every so often.
Let’s get right into it.
Before I get to the actual steps, I want to point out that these techniques for recalling an Outlook email don’t work in the web version.
They only work if you’re using the Outlook desktop app.
In addition, both yourself and the recipient have to be using the same company email account.
In other words, you can’t email recall a message sent from your work account to someone outside your organization.
Therefore, the two rules are that this only works on a desktop client, and you and the recipient have to be using a Microsoft Exchange Email account or a Microsoft 365 account in the same company.
Here are the steps to follow.
If you sent it recently, look at the top of the list.
If you can’t find it, use the search bar.
It will expand it.
Now take a look at the Move section, and you’ll see a letter and an envelope symbol.
This opens up additional choices, so click on it.
There, select the Recall This Message option.
You will then have two options listed:
- Delete Unread Copies and Replace With a New Message or
- Delete Unread Copies of This Message.
Step 5: If you want to replace the message, Outlook displays a new window so you can write the replacement email.
The old one will still be displayed to help you write the new one.
It is then automatically deleted when you send the replacement.
Finally, hit the send button when you’re done writing the new email.
You can also recall an email you sent from your mobile device on the Outlook app.
The process is a little different, but it’s super straightforward and goes as follows:
- Click the message that you want to recall to open it up.
- Go to the Message tab .
- Click the dropdown menu titled Actions.
- Choose Recall This Message.
Unfortunately, the recall process and options available are much more limited when it comes to Gmail.
The only thing you can do is set a delay regarding the time it takes to send the email.
This way, the email will remain in your outbox for a set period of time and you’ll have a few extra moments to check it over before it goes out.
The way it works is that as soon as you press send, you’ll get a popup notification in the bottom left corner of the screen, along with an undo button.
To get this process up and running, follow the steps below:
- Ensure you are on your Gmail inbox through your web browser
- Click on your user profile in the top right corner
- Choose click Settings
- Click See all settings.
- Go to “Undo Send”
- Choose Send undo period of 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds.
This means you’ll have up to 30 seconds to ‘unsend’ an email after you initially pressed send.
If you don’t click the undo button within that time frame, Gmail will send the email as usual.
While it is not really a way to recall a message (since it’s a delay before an email is sent), it can give you a few extra moments to check over an email before it’s really sent.
Here are some situations where you might want to consider using the recall function on an email message.
A recall attempt is excellent when you accidentally message the wrong person.
Let’s say you have two John Smiths in your address book, and you meant to send a message to one but ended up sending it to the other.
A recall attempt is warranted if the original message contained confidential or sensitive information that one shouldn’t have shared.
Sometimes you might accidentally CC someone on a message they really shouldn’t see.
If this happens, you can try to recall the message.
If the message lying waiting in the recipient’s mailbox is offensive or inappropriate, you’ll want to try to recall it as soon as possible.
Having the ability to recall or resend this type of email can save you a lot of embarrassment or even get you out of a sticky situation at work.
When you quickly compose an email, typos are bound to happen.
If the typo completely changes the meaning of what you’re saying, you might want to try to recall the message.
It happens to the best of us.
Writing ‘see the attached in your email’ without actually attaching anything is a surefire way to get on someone’s wrong side.
If you find yourself in this situation, recalling the message is probably your best bet.
It’s not unheard of to click the send button before an email is ready to be sent.
If this happens and you need to change the message, you can try to recall it.
Even if the recipient cannot view the email you sent correctly, they may still be aware that you sent an offensive or irrelevant email.
In other words, the recall option is not always a safe bet.
That said, there are various things you can do to try and mitigate the situation.
While this won’t recall the email, it’s still an excellent alternative to try and smooth things over.
Here you can write a new email apologizing for the mistake and hope for the best.
Ensure that you proofread your email carefully before sending it off so you don’t make things worse.
This is an excellent way to prevent embarrassing typos and slip-ups.
This option will allow you to schedule your email to be sent at a later time.
That way, you can take another look at it before it goes out.
To do this in Outlook, follow the steps below:
- Step 1: Select File from the top left corner of the Outlook window.
- Step 2: Click on Manage Rules & Alerts.
- Step 3: A window will appear with several settings – choose the New Rule option here.
- Step 4: Choose the option, ‘Click on Apply rule on messages I send’
- Step 5: Click Next twice to go to the next step.
- Step 6: You’ll be taken to a confirmation screen – select Yes to confirm your choices.
- Step 7: You should see a menu item called “defer delivery by a number of minutes,” and check the box next to it to activate it.
- Step 8: Set the amount of time before the email is delivered.
- Step 9: Go through the next few steps by hitting next as required and then clicking on Finish.
This process will add a delay to all of the emails you send from that point forward.
A recall succeeds in replacing the original email with a new one (or deleting it outright) if a few conditions are met.
This is the most essential condition.
A recall only works if both the sender and recipient use Microsoft Outlook with a Microsoft Exchange account within the same organization.
If the recipient uses a different email client, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Apple Mail, a recall won’t work.
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
The recall feature only works if the email hasn’t been opened yet.
Once it has been opened, there’s no way to take it back.
Another thing to keep in mind is that recall doesn’t work if an email has already landed in a public folder.
This includes a folder that many people can access and read, such as a company-wide email address or a listserv.
Lastly, a recall won’t work if your email has been automatically redirected to a folder that’s not the inbox.
This includes filters and rules the recipient may have set up in their email client.
For example, if one has a rule that sends all emails from a particular sender to a specific folder, the sender can’t recall those emails.
While having an ‘undo option’ on email is good, recall failures are not uncommon.
If you’ve sent an email and it can’t be recalled for any of the reasons I’ve listed above, the best thing you can do is send a follow-up message apologizing for the mistake.
Further reading on AdamEnfroy.com: If you’re interested in learning more about emails and how one can use the right software to get more leads, customers, and sales, here are the best email marketing software you can use right now.
In addition, you can also check out these best cold email software to learn more about the best software you can use when doing cold outreach and getting in touch with potential clients.