How to Recall an Email in Outlook: A Step-by-Step Guide

Retrieve sent messages quickly

We've all hit the "Send" button, too soon, at some point in time and realized we made a mistake or sent the email to the wrong recipient. Microsoft Outlook provides a "Recall" feature, enabling you to retract and replace an already delivered email, ensuring your message remains private and error-free.

Understanding the Email Recall Feature

The first step of email recall in Outlook is understanding how the feature works. In recalling an email, you retrieve it from the recipient's inbox. You can replace it with a correct version or remove it entirely.

However, it's important to note that email recall has certain limitations:

  • Recall only works if the sender and the recipient use Microsoft Exchange email accounts within the same organization.
  • Recalling emails sent to external email addresses or non-exchange accounts (Gmail, Yahoo) is not guaranteed.
  • Recalling an email is time-sensitive. You can only retrieve messages if the recipient hasn't opened them yet or if they are still unread in their inbox.
  • The recall attempt will fail once the recipient opens the email or moves it to another folder.

The Email Recall Process

  1. Navigate to your "Sent Items" folder by clicking on the folder icon on the left-hand side of the Outlook window.
  2. Find the email you wish to recall in the list of sent messages.
  3. Double-click on the email you want to recall to open it in a new window.
  4. The new window will display the email's content and options for recall.
  5. In the email window, navigate to the "Message" tab at the top of the Outlook window.
  6. Look for the "Actions" group. Within it, click on the "More Actions" dropdown menu.
  7. From the menu, select "Recall This Message."

When you initiate the recall process, Outlook provides two options for handling the recall:

  1. Delete Unread Copies of the Message: This option removes the email from the recipient's inbox as if never sent. It's a preferred solution when you need to eliminate the message to avoid any further complications.
  2. Delete Unread Copies and Replace them with a New Message: This option enables sending a replacement email to the recipient's inbox. It's suitable when you want to correct mistakes or provide updated information in the same email thread.

Alternate Method to Recall an Email in Outlook

If you are unable to recall an email in Outlook using the built-in recall feature, there is an alternative way. Although not as reliable or guaranteed as the recall feature, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open Outlook and go to the "Sent Items" folder.
  2. Double-click on the email you want to recall to open it.
  3. Click on the "Actions" tab at the top of the email window.
  4. Select "Resend This Message" from the options.

By choosing to resend the message, you can draft a new email with the correct information. However, this method does not automatically delete or replace the original email in the recipient's inbox. It sends a new message, so the recipient may still see the initial email.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I recall an email in Outlook if the recipient has already read it?

No, Outlook email recall only works for unread messages.

Q: Does the recall feature work on all versions of Outlook?

No. The recall feature is only available in Microsoft Outlook desktop versions connected to Microsoft Exchange email accounts.

Q: Can I recall an email sent to a Gmail or Yahoo account?

Recalling an email sent to external email addresses or non-Exchange accounts is not guaranteed to be successful.