Find out how to Recall an E-mail in Outlook

Imagine: You are currently writing an email to your boss if you accidentally click the "Send" button. Before you start writing a subsequent excuse me email, you should know that Outlook includes the option to get email.

Getting an email can prevent the recipient from seeing it at all, and it's a handy skill to know about it for emergencies. Follow these steps if you want to get an Outlook email. If you also want to learn how to delay your emails in Outlook (to prevent accidental sending of emails), later in this guide you will learn how to do this.

Note: These instructions do not work with the web-based version of Outlook. They only apply to the desktop client. They also only work if you and the recipient use a Microsoft Exchange account within the same organization, or both have Microsoft 365.

How to get Outlook emails

Step 1: Open your Sent Items folder and look for the email you want to check. It should be at the top of the list. It is imperative that you double-click this email to fully open it before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Click the Message tab on the toolbar to activate it. Then navigate to the Move section and click the More Move Actions button, which is identified by a letter and an envelope (see the figure below).

Step 3: In the drop-down list, click the Recall this message option.

Step 4: A pop-up window will appear on your screen. You have two options here: delete unread copies of this message or delete unread copies and replace them with a new message. You'll also see an option that Outlook uses to notify you when the operation is successful or fails.

Select your option (s) and click the OK button to continue.

Outlook Get this message popup

If you have deleted the message, congratulations! If you want to replace it, go to step 5.

Step 5: If you want to create a replacement, Outlook opens a second screen where you can revise the message. As you compose your new email, Outlook silently retrieves your old message and displays a notification (if you selected this option). Simply click the "Send" button when you are finished with the revised message.

Note: If you send a callback message, your old email will not be hidden exactly. For the original message to disappear, the recipient may need to open the callback message first. For this reason, you should enter "URGENT" or similar in the title of the callback message so that it opens before the first offensive email. Continue with a longer explanation. Microsoft also states that the recipient is typically notified when recalled messages are deleted from their inbox. So keep in mind that even when checking out an email, the recipient knows that a botched or offensive message has been sent to them, even if they cannot view it.

Why email callback doesn't always work


Starting the recall process does not mean that it will work as you intended. At today's internet speeds (unless you live in a dead zone), this bad email is likely to be waiting in someone's inbox, causing a number of problems. Here are the factors that negate your recall – or at least can complicate the process.

  • Open messages: If a recipient opens your email, you cannot call them back. The recipient can still access and read the second callback message, but the original remains in their Outlook inbox. This is one reason why you should act quickly.
  • Redirects to other folders: If your first message activates a filter and Outlook has redirected it to a specific folder, your callback will fail. The callback option only affects emails that remain in the inbox. If the first message is waiting elsewhere, it will not be hidden.
  • Public Folders: If someone reads your first email that is in a public folder, the callback fails. It does not matter which recipient or which registration account marks the email as read – it is still too late.
  • Other email clients: The callback function works with Outlook. For example, if you send an email to someone using Gmail, the callback will not work.
  • Mobile apps: If you use Exchange ActiveSync settings for Outlook on mobile devices, the callback option may not work. This is because the system juggles with different versions of Outlook and cannot complete the process, especially when your mobile device is offline.

There are certainly many pitfalls with this handy little feature. If your callbacks don't work, you have two options to improve the scenario:

Solution 1: Write an apology. Aside from having to double-check your emails before sending them, this is the easiest solution to the problem. If you accidentally sent an email to the wrong person (s) and it was not too outrageous, save time and make a quick apology. This works for most people and you can stop worrying.

Solution 2: Delay your emails. If you have Butterfinger email or are constantly trying to answer and share more confidential information, you should delay your email. You can do this for all Outlook emails by following these steps:

Step 1: Click File at the top left.

Step 2: Scroll down and select Manage rules and warnings on the following page.

Step 3: The Rules and Alerts pop-up window will appear on your screen. Click the New Rule option.

Step 4: In a second pop-up window, select the Apply rule to messages I send option listed under Start from an empty rule. Click the Next button to continue.

Step 5: Ignore everything in the conditions list and click the Next button. Then click the Yes button in a small confirmation popup.

Step 6: Select the option Postpone delivery by a few minutes. Click the A Number Of link. A pop-up appears, asking you for a certain duration. Enter the number – maximum 120 minutes – and click the OK button. Click the Next button to continue.

Step 7: If necessary, select exceptions and click the Next button to continue.

Step 8:Name your rule, select the Enable this rule check box, and click the Finish button.

Create Outlook rule for delayed messages

If you've been bothered by this entire process on the Outlook email client, you can always use an available address.

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