How to Recall an Email Sent in Outlook, And Why You'd Need to
4 min

How To Recall (Or Revoke) An Email Sent In Outlook

We’ve all experienced that gut-wrenching feeling after sending an email to the wrong person.

Calling the recipient or sending them a polite (but slightly panicked) follow up used to be the only way to make sure any sensitive information doesn't spread any further.

Luckily technology has evolved, and there are now several ways to stop recall or revoke and email.

Here's how to recall an email using Outlook.


Recalling an email in Outlook

To recall an email means retrieving a message from your recipient’s inbox. In Outlook, you can do this in a few easy steps.

  1. Open Outlook and click on your ‘sent items’ folder.
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  2. Find the message that you want to recall and double-click to open it in a separate window.

  3. Navigate to the message tab in the Outlook ribbon, located at the top of the page.
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  4. If you’re using the 2007 Outlook version, find the ‘Actions’ group in the message tab, click ‘Other Actions’, and select ‘Recall This Message’.

    If you’re using Outlook version 2010 or later, find the drop-down button labelled ‘Actions’ and click ‘Recall This Message’.
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  5. A dialog box will appear titled "Recall This Message":
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    Select ‘Delete unread copies of this message’ to recall your email. You also have the option to receive a notification email confirming whether the the recall was successful or not.


Replacing an email in Outlook

You may have noticed that there is an option to ‘Delete unread copies and replace with a new message’.

If you pick this option, instead of simply recalling the original email, you will have the chance to write and send an updated message to replace it in your recipient’s inbox.

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

However, if the recipient opens the original message first, the recall will fail, and they will be able to see both versions of the email.


Why Outlook's email recall doesn’t always work

Whether email recall and replace works depends on a variety of factors:

If the message has already been opened

if your recipient has already opened your original email before it's recalled or replaced, neither function will work.

Instead, you can send a recall message asking your recipient to disregard your original email. However, it will remain in their inbox and they will continue to have access to it unless deleted.

If the message has been redirected

If your email activated a filter in your recipient's Outlook app directing it to a folder, you won't be able to recall it.

This is because outlook recall only affects emails that remain in your recipient’s inbox. The same applies if the recipient manually moves a message to a separate folder.

If recipients use a different email client

Both you and your recipient must have an Exchange server account that you are using in Outlook for recall to work.

If your recipient uses an email client other than Outlook, such as Gmail, you won't be able to recall your message.

How you access Outlook (desktop/web/mobile)

Email recall only applies for those using Outlook desktop and will not work for those using the Outlook mobile app and Outlook for web.


Alternative Solutions

Although Outlook’s native recall feature can be useful if you realise your mistake straight away, it doesn’t prevent you from making a mistake in the first place and you’re not always able to recall it.

Here are some alternative ways to prevent or recall misfired emails:

Option 1: Message Delay

Outlook offers a Delay Message feature, allowing you to schedule messages to send at a later time and date.

This can give you more chance to re-read messages and spot any ‘wrong address’ errors before they are sent out. To delay a message in Outlook:

  1. Compose your email, whether it’s a new message or a reply.

  2. Locate and click the ‘Options’ tab in the Outlook ribbon at the top of the page.
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  3. Within the options tab, you should be able to select ‘Delay Delivery’.
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  4. Within the dialog box that appears, navigate to the ‘Delivery options’ section and change it to a date and time to suit you.
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  5. Once completed, close the dialogue box, and send your email as normal.

Important Note: This method only works if your emails are not time sensitive. If you regularly need to send and reply to emails quickly, this option may not be suitable for you.

Option 2: Outlook Add-ins

If you find that Outlook’s built-in recall and delay features are not enough, there are several add-ins available for you to consider.

Our secure email solution, Mailock, can be integrated easily with Outlook. Mailock gives you the capability to fully revoke a secure email instantly, 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.

Plus, you can set challenges to authenticate your recipient’s identity before they can access your message in the first place.

Find out more about Mailock encryption for Outlook.

Did you know… there are hundreds of Outlook add-ons available for you to use, not just for improving email security but for productivity and collaboration too! Take a look at our guide to the top 12 must-have Outlook add-ins.

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