Man at office desk recalling an email in outlook successfully
4 min

How To Recall An Email In Outlook

Sending an email in error is easy, but recalling it can be tricky. If you've ever accidentally sent an email with a typo or the wrong information, you know how frustrating it can be. Fortunately, you can recall an email in Outlook (in most cases), as long as the recipient hasn't opened it.

To recall an email in Outlook, follow these steps:

  1. Open Outlook and go to your Sent Items folder. Open Outlook and go to your Sent Items folder
  2. Double-click to open the email you want to recall. Find the Actions dropdown and click 'Recall This Message’. Recalling An Email In Outlook Email Client
  3. In the Recall This Message pane, select the option you want:
    • Delete unread copies of this message: This will delete the email from the recipient's inbox if they haven't opened it yet.
    • Move unread copies of this message to the Deleted Items folder: This will move the email to the recipient's Deleted Items folder if they haven't opened it yet.Delete Unread Copies Of Outlook Email
  4.  Click 'OK'.
If you're using email to exchange sensitive information, you must secure it in line with EU regulation. The Mailock Outlook add-in gives you the power to encrypt messages and revoke sent emails every time, even if they have been opened.

If Recalling An Outlook Email Doesn't Work

Recalling an email in Outlook isn't always possible. If you can't recall your email, this is due to one of the following reasons.

  • You are using Outlook for web or mobile: You can only recall an email using the Outlook desktop application for Windows. Email recall is not available for Outlook on the web, for Mac, or on mobile. (If your company has an Enterprise E3 M365 licence or higher, contact your administrator as they may be able to recall your email if you do not have access to this functionality through your Outlook app).
  • The message has already been opened: If your recipient has already opened your email, a recall will not work. You can ask your recipient to disregard the email, however, it will remain in their inbox and they will continue to have access to it unless it is deleted.
  • The message has been redirected: If your email activated a filter in your recipient's email client redirecting it to another folder, or they manually moved it, you won't be able to recall it. Email recall only works for messages that remain in your recipient's inbox.
  • The recipient doesn't use Outlook: Your recipient's email account must be an Outlook or Exchange server (Microsoft) account. There is no way to know this ahead of a recall attempt. If your recipient uses Gmail, Yahoo or Apple Mail, your email recall will fail.

You can only recall an email using the Outlook desktop application

When To Recall An Email In Outlook

There are a few times when it's appropriate to recall an Outlook email.

  • If you accidentally send an email with a typo or a mistake, you should recall the email and send a corrected version.
  • If you send an email to the wrong person, you should recall the email and send it to the correct person.
  • If you send an email that contains sensitive information, you should recall the email to prevent a data breach.

You should recall emails as soon as possible. The sooner you recall an email in Outlook, the more likely it is to remain unopened.

You should never send sensitive information in an email without additional protection. It's too easy to send it to the wrong person and it could be intercepted or manipulated by threat actors. Use email encryption and consider adding in ID check to comply with EU regulatory guidance.

Can You Replace An Email In Outlook?

You may have noticed the option to ‘Delete unread copies and replace with a new message’.

Replacing an email in outlook dialog

If you select this option, you can compose an updated message to replace the original sent message in your recipient’s inbox.

If the recipient opens the updated message first, the original message will be deleted, and the recipient will be notified.

As with a standard email recall, the replacement will only be successful if the recipient has not already opened the original email.

If they open the original email and then you try to replace it, they may receive the replacement message as a separate, new email.

Similarly, all other criteria under which an email recall is not possible that I note above, also apply to email replacement.

Recalling Emails: A Last Resort

Recalling emails in Outlook should be a last resort. If you can, it's always better to check and proofread your emails before you send them.

If you accidentally send an email with a mistake, or to the wrong person, you can apologise and send a follow-up email if a recall doesn't work.

However, if your email contains sensitive information, it is vital you have the means to revoke access completely to prevent that information from falling into the wrong hands or being shared further.

Tools For Revoking Sensitive Emails

If you're concerned about the security of your sensitive emails, consider a third-party Outlook add-in that enables you to revoke them.

There are a few different tools available, but one of the most popular is our own easy-to-use Outlook add-in, Mailock.

Mailock gives you the capability to fully revoke a secure email regardless of the situation - even if your recipient:

  • has already opened your message.
  • has moved the message to a different folder.
  • is using an email client that is not Outlook.

Learn more about Mailock secure email for Outlook.


Originally posted on 22 09 21
Last updated on December 4, 2023

Posted by: Sabrina McClune

Sabrina McClune is an expert researcher with an MA in Digital Marketing. She was a finalist in the Women In Tech Awards 2022. Sabrina has worked extensively with B2B technology companies conducting and compiling thorough academically driven research to produce online and offline media. She loves to read fantasy novels and collect special edition books.

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