We all have been there at some point of time when you have sent a message to the wrong person or have forgotten to add an important attachment or have made an email-related mistake that has put us in embarrassment. But before you start cringing and your luck allows, you can recall the email.

Microsoft’s popular email service-Outlook provides a built-in feature for all versions of the application that makes it possible to recall an email or replace a message with certain steps to follow. A lot of email clients give people the ability to recall emails after they’ve been sent.

  1. Open your Sent Items folder
  2. Double-click on the email you want to recall to open it. Generally, it is at the top of the list.
  3. Make sure that you are in the Message tab and look for the drop-down menu that says Actions. It should be next to the Rules and Move email options in your taskbar.
  4. Click Actions followed by Recall This Message. You need an Exchange account for this option to be available. Certain administrators may block this option, depending on your organization.
  5. The recall window pops up where you need to choose between deleting the unread copies of the message and replacing the copy with a new message that contains proper information. Do the necessary changes and select OK. You also get an option to receive a report on whether the recall succeeds or fails, on a recipient-by-recipient basis.
  6. If you create a replacement message, Outlook will take you to a new compose message screen. Just select Send after you are ready to start the recall process.

Note: Your old email won’t disappear if you send a recall message. But in order to have the original message disappear, the recipient may have to open the recall message first. You can put “URGENT” or something similar in the title of your recall message to make sure it gets opened before the other email.


There are some factors that can nullify your recall making it more complicated. Starting the recall process doesn’t mean that it will work out the way you intended.

  1. If the recipient has opened your email, you can’t recall it.
  2. If your first message activated a filter and was rerouted to a folder that isn’t the inbox, then your recall will fail.
  3. Public folders can make things complicated because if anyone reads your first email, the recall will fail.
  4. If you are sending to someone who uses Gmail you can’t expect the recall option to work.
  5. If you are using Exchange ActiveSync settings for Outlook on mobile devices, then the recall option may not work either.
  1. You could send an apology mail as it the simplest solution to the problem. This works for most people and you can stop worrying about it.
  2. You can also delay your emails. Simply go to File, select Manage Rules and Alerts, and choose New Rule. Start from a Blank Rule, and skip conditions so that all emails are covered. Select Defer delivery by a number of minutes. If you delay it by a couple of minutes, you can recall messages far more effectively when mistakes are made.

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