How to recall an email in Outlook and Gmail

The majority of us can all think back to an occasion where you’ve spent ages typing and perfecting a long, detailed email. You’ve then quickly pressed the send button. Following this you’ve suddenly realised that you’ve accidentally sent the email to the wrong person! (Perhaps it was even the person you were talking about in your email!) You then find yourself staring at the computer screen in a total panic. You’ve no idea what to do whilst fearing the absolute worst and imagining the recipient’s reaction by the time they read your email. You frantically start making possible excuses, thinking of how to get out of this mess you’ve just created.

How To Recall An Email Using Outlook:

Microsoft Outlook makes it possible to replace or recall emails that haven’t yet been read by the recipient.

After sending your accidental email action the following:

  • Go to your sent items
  • Click into the email
  • Go to the ‘Message’ tab next to ‘File’
  • Click on the ‘Actions’ drop down and then ‘Recall this message’
  • You will now see a ‘recall message’ window
  • You’ll have the option to delete unread copies and you can even use the ‘Replace’ function to edit and resend the email with your new changes

Do be aware that there are limitations to undoing emails in Outlook. If the recipients are also on Microsoft Exchange retracting messages is simple. Nevertheless if your recipients aren’t logged in or don’t use Microsoft Exchange, you cannot use the recall email function. Also if the recipient uses another email service provider the recall function is useless.

There are also other drawbacks. According to Microsoft Outlook users with the preview pane enabled may still be able to read the recalled message, however this doesn’t mean you can’t make changes and resend the email although the recipient will receive two emails from you.

How To Recall An Email Using Gmail’s Undo Send Feature:

There is a way to recall the email using Gmail’s undo send feature, but you need to act quick!

Although the functionality of ‘undo send’ is limited, it can save you from possible embarrassment if you react in time.

To configure the undo send feature (and make sure it’s enabled)

1. Click the gear icon in the top right corner of your Gmail screen.
2. Click “Settings.”
3. Select the “General” tab, and navigate to “Undo Send.”
4. Using the dropdown menu extend the cancellation period from 5 to 30 seconds.
5. Scroll down and click “Save Changes.”
After you have set up Undo Send, retracting an email is simple – providing you react quickly. It must be within 30 seconds of sending the email (or less time depending on the cancellation period you choose). While the ability to recall an email within 30 seconds is a useful feature, it’s barely enough time to recognise that you’ve made a mistake (not forgetting the panic stage!).

You should see a yellow tooltip near the top of your inbox which says:

“Your message has been sent. Undo. View Message.”

Click “Undo” to recall the email, and you’ll be sent to the email’s draft, allowing you to make any necessary changes or discard the entire message.


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