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How to Recall a sent Message in Microsoft Outlook

Everyone’s done it: typed a email message in Microsoft Outlook in a hurry, or in the heat of emotion, and hit send before stopping to think of the potential consequences. Only after sending did we realize that we left out information, put in incorrect information, such as meeting dates and times, made horrible typing, spelling or grammatical errors, or made some other mistake. There is good news, however in most cases, you can get the message back, and make your changes and re-send.

Keep in mind that only in certain situations is it possible to unsend your message. If the message is still sitting in your “Outbox” folder, simply go in to that folder before Outlook sends the waiting message, and delete it from the queue. Keep in mind that Outlook is set up to automatically send and receive messages. Intervals for this are set in Outlook; if you are using the program at home, you can easily change this; if you are using Outlook at work, this is most likely set by the business you work for, and cannot be changed. If you do have the ability to change these settings, it’s simple to do so. You’ll need to open Outlook, click on Tools, select Options, and then select Mail Delivery. Under Mail Account Options, you can change the settings to send messages immediately when you computer is connected to the internet (if you have a habit of composing emails while offline, this may be a good thing to turn off. You can also tell Outlook how often to check for new messages. The default setting is ten minutes: you can choose shorter or longer intervals.

Please note that if you are using a version of Microsoft Outlook that is older than Outlook 2003, you will not be able to recall your message. You may want to upgrade to a newer version of the software, so you’ll have this ability.

If the errant message has already been sent, there are still a few circumstances under which you can recall the message. If the recipient has not yet read the message, you can recall the message, and most times the recipient will never even know the message was sent. On older versions of Outlook, sometimes it is still possible for the recipient to open the message; however, they will receive a second message letting them know that the first message has been recalled. If you simply put the wrong date for a meeting in your original email, this may not be devastating to your career. If you sent an irate email to your boss, full of profanities, and your desire to quit your job immediately, but you later change your mind, you are in trouble. Unless you can get lucky and convince your boss that your email was hacked, which isn’t likely in most cases.

To actually recall a message that has been sent, go into your Sent Items folder. Open the email that you’d like to recall. On the menu bar, select Actions, and then select Recall this message. You can then delete unread copies of this message. If you sent the email to more than one person, you may also want to select the option that will tell you if the message recall succeeds or fails for each recipient of your original email. You do have an option to simply delete unread copies of the message, or you can delete the unread copies of the message, and replace with a corrected message (as in our example of an incorrect meeting time or date).

The best policy is to always check your emails before sending them, and if you type an email in the heat of emotion, save it and go away before hitting the send button. Then come back in a few minutes, or better yet, a few hours, and send the message, if you still feel that it’s the right thing to do.

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