So you’ve accidentally clicked send on your unfinished email or even worse sent it to the wrong person and it’s now on its way. We’ve all been in this situation which is why Microsoft developed the ‘Message Resend and Recall’ feature:
Here are the steps below to recall a sent email:
Step 1: Click on the ‘Sent Items’ folder within the left-hand pane of your Outlook. Navigate to the email you would like to recall and double-click on it to open it in a new window.
Step 2: Click on the ‘Actions’ button in the ribbon at the top of the email, under the ‘Move’ heading and select the option ‘Recall This Message’ from the drop-down menu.
Step 3: Select one of the two recall options that will be.
- Delete unread copies of this message
- Delete unread copies and replace with a new message (edits the email in their mailbox instead of deleting it)
Once these steps have been completed, you will receive an email telling you whether the recall has been completed successfully or not. Please be aware that when you ask for this to be enabled, the recipient will receive an email that an attempt of recalling the email was carried out, which may not be a desirable outcome for some.
Can I recall any email that has been sent?
In a word no and being brutally honest the chances of recalling an email once it has been sent are slim, very slim. In order for a recall to be successful it really needs a lot of pieces in the chain to line up as follows: –
- The recipient of the email, as well as yourself, must be connected to a Microsoft server. In basic terms, both email accounts must be using Microsoft Exchange or Office 365 as their email provider
- The recipient must be within your organisation i.e. both users having a ‘@leapit.co.uk’ email address, if it is someone outside your organisation there is no chance of retrieving it!
- The email must have been sent using Outlook and has to be recalled using Outlook. It won’t work if the sender or receiver isn’t using Outlook if you’re on POP email forget about it!
- The recipient must not have read the email, if they have read it then the recall won’t work.
How do I stop this happening in future?
Prevention is always better than the cure and there are some tips you can follow to stop this happening: –
- Try and get into the habit of entering the recipients’ addresses as the end as the last thing you do when composing an email. Although very simple, it is extremely effective.
- There is the option to have Outlook delay the sending of emails to give you a window of time to cancel each email individually. Microsoft has created an easy step-by-step guide to demonstrate to users how to enable this feature within their Outlook client. https://bit.ly/3ga6OXC
- If you are on Gmail or GSuite the ability to recall a sent email is built-in by default allowing you ‘undo’ the sending of an email during the first 5 seconds but in reality 5 seconds isn’t much of a window to recall a sent email.
Are there any other ways to recall an email?
In my opinion the recall feature on Outlook is a nice idea however, in reality the chance of this working is slim and you shouldn’t rely on it.
If you have sent an email to someone inside your organisation and you want to stop them seeing it, you might be better speaking to your IT department or your IT Support Company. Your IT Support will be able to access the user’s mailbox directly and delete the email for you. They can also lock the user out of their mailbox so they can read it and delete it that way. However both these options are going to rouse suspicion on the user as to why they are locked out which might make the whole episode even more suspicious.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss any topics mentioned in this article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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