I wasn't meant to send that!

 Nov 10, 2015

Recall a message in Outlook

We've all done it before, we've clicked on Send before proofreading one of our emails, forgotten to upload an attachment into the email, or just sent an email in anger.

Here is a way that you can stop the person you are sending to from seeing your mistake.

This is a message I’m just about to send to Kathryn: Recall a message

I’ve just sent it, but I now regret it and don’t want her to see it.

Go to the Sent Items folder.

Recall a message

Then double click on the email you sent to open it.

Recall a message

In the Move group, click on Actions and then choose Recall This Message…

Recall a message

Click on OK.

Note: you can also attempt to Resend a message too. The original message is still deleted, the only difference is that it is replaced with a new message.

There is now a note in the InfoBar of the email reminding you of the time and date that you tried to recall the message.

Recall a message

It may take a few minutes for the recall operation to complete. But sooner or later you will receive a message letting you know whether the recall was successful or not.

Recall a message

Here’s what the message looks like:

Recall a message

How Recall works

Outlook sends a recall message that arrives in the recipient’s Inbox. This recall email has code in it that tries to delete the original message and then delete itself.


Limitations (recalling won’t always be successful!)

Here are some of the situations when recall won’t work:

  • The most important one, the original message must still be unread by the recipient. (In this case viewing it in the Reading Pane may not actually count).
  • The recipient isn’t on the same Outlook Exchange organisation. (Basically within the same company).
  • The recipient isn’t using Outlook to read emails. If they are using the Outlook Web App using a smartphone or tablet app, the recall won’t work.
  • The original message must arrive in the recipient’s Inbox folder. If the recipient has a rule that moves the message, recalling the message may not be possible.
  • If you are sending from a Delegate or Shared Mailbox, you can’t recall a message.
  • The recall may fail depend on whether the Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls check box is selected in the mailbox settings area of the recipient’s File – Options

In an ideal situation, where the recipient isn’t logged on to Outlook, or has Outlook open in the background, the email may vanish from their Inbox without them noticing.

If the recipient has read the message, the recall message will fail, but will self-destruct itself out of the recipient’s Inbox (so the recipient won’t know you tried to recall the original message.)

However, I have seen situations where the recipient could see both the original message and the Recall message, allowing the recipient to read the original message and making it obvious to them that you wanted to recall the message and didn't want them to see it.

For more information, take a look at New Horizons' Outlook training courses.

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About the Author:

Matthew Goodall  

Matthew is a qualified Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Certified Applications Specialist and a Microsoft Certified Trainer with over 11 years of hands-on experience in a training facilitation role. He is one of New Horizons most dynamic instructors who consistently receives high feedback scores from students. Matt enjoys helping students achieve real professional and personal growth through the courses he delivers. He is best known for creating “fans” of students, who regularly request him as an instructor for any future courses they undertake at New Horizons.

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