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Have you had one of those moments when you realized that you clicked Send just a bit too fast?
For instance, there might have been a bad typo. Usually, recipients overlook minor typos in emails. However, there are some other mistakes you may want to avoid, such as not adding the attachment you mentioned, spelling the name of the recipient wrong, forgetting to (B)CC someone, or typing a reply when you are angry.
So, can you take back an email that you’ve already sent? Read on to know all about unsending and recalling emails.
Can You Unsend an Email?
Before we learn how to recall an email, you should understand what it means to “recall” an email. You see, the technology used to send emails is ancient and hasn’t changed much in recent years. Unlike most modern chat apps, the ability to recall an email message is not built into the core email technology — meaning that once an email is sent, it is genuinely sent.
So, how does Outlook and other popular email service providers allow you to unsend or recall an email? Well, they do this with a smart little trick.
Recalling an Email in Outlook
If you’re looking to unsend or recall an email in the Outlook app, things work a little differently here. Some email services like Gmail only allow a short time before you can Undo sending the email. In Outlook, you can recall the email message as long as the recipient has not read it. Recalling an email only works if both the sender and the recipient use Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email accounts within the same organization.
This is good to remember for when you send an email to a colleague which has a mistake. You can easily recall the email in Outlook using the following process.
- Click on the ‘Sent Items’ folder on the left of the Outlook window.
- Locate the email message you want to recall and open it by double clicking.
- Click the ‘Message’ tab, then click on the Actions > Recall This Message option.
In case you do not see the Recall Message option in Outlook, there are three possible options why:
- The recipient has already seen your email, and it cannot be recalled now.
- The recipient does not have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account.
- The feature has been disabled for your organization by your administrator.
My preferred way to make sure I want to send the email is to build a send and receive time delay into Outlook. The default Outlook setting is to send an email immediately. When you un-check the Send Immediately box, you will need to remember to manually send and receive your email by typing the F9 key or the send/receive icon in your toolbar.
The other option is to save your email as a draft to give you some time to think before you act.
What has been your most embarrassing email moment?