How To Recall an Email in Outlook (And Replace It Afterward)

Updated July 31, 2023

An illustration of a pair of hands holding a smartphone, with icons floating above the screen to indicate email components

Recalling an email in Microsoft Outlook is a useful tool for corresponding with others in the workplace. This feature allows you to recall an email and send a new one before the recipient officially receives it. It's important for anyone who uses Outlook for emailing to understand how to recall their messages if they need to.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to recall an email in Outlook and provide some tips to help you avoid the need to recall and/or replace a message to start with.

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When can I recall an email in Outlook?

You can recall an email when you forget to include an attachment, send the email to the wrong person or notice spelling or grammatical errors. To recall an email, both the sender and the recipient must have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account in the same organization and use Outlook as the email client.

You can only recall an email if the recipient hasn't opened it yet and their mailbox is open when you process the recall. The message also needs to be unaffected by processes like spam filters or add-ins.

Related: Guide to Writing a Business Email

How to recall an email in Outlook

You may use the following steps as a guide for recalling an email in Outlook:

1. Find the email

Start the recall process by locating the email you wish to delete. If you have just sent the email, it might be in your Outbox, and you can drag the message to your "Drafts" folder or delete it. Sometimes, the email is already on its way to the recipient and is in your "Sent" folder.

In the folder on the left-hand side of the Outlook window, select the "Sent Items" folder. The email should be at the top of the folder. Make sure you're selecting the correct email to recall. You can then double-click the email to view it.

Related: How To Write a Professional Email

2. Recall the email

Select the "Message" tab on the toolbar to activate it. Then scroll to the "Move" section and click the button for "More Move Actions" with a letter and envelope. You may then select the "Recall This Message" option from the drop-down list.

If you have the simplified toolbar, you can select the "Messages" tab, scroll to the icon with three dots, hit "Actions" and then choose "Recall This Message." The ability to recall an email is only on versions of Microsoft Outlook from 2003 to the current version.

Related: 16 Email Organization Tips for the Workplace

3. Delete the email

You can now delete the email that you sent. A pop-up window may appear on your screen and prompt you to choose "Delete Unread Copies of This Message" or "Delete Unread Copies and Replace With a New Message."

You can select the button that works best for you. Outlook might notify the recipient that you recalled an email from their inbox. There's also an option for Outlook to let you know if the recall process is successful. If you want to follow the recall's progress, select the check box for "Tell Me if Recall Succeeds or Fails for Each Recipient."

Related: Emailing at Work: Pros, Cons and Tips

4. Send a replacement email (optional)

You can send a new email in place of the one you just recalled. Outlook may open a second window so you can revise and replace the original email. You can fix any errors in the initial email or include an attachment you might have forgotten. Click the "Send" button when you're done writing the new message.

Related: 8 Best Practices for Business Email Etiquette

What happens after recalling an email in Outlook?

The results of an attempt to recall a message can vary depending on the settings of the recipient's inbox and whether the recipient has read the email, among other factors. The recall may not go through if the recipient has already read your message.

In this case, the recipient might have access to the original email, the notification of the recall attempt and the replacement email. If the recipient opens the recall notification before the original message, the recall may be successful.

The recall process may take a while, during which Outlook might have already sent the recall notice. This can prompt the recipient to read the email you want to recall after seeing the notification.

If the recipient moved the email out of their inbox, the recall fails, even if the recipient hasn't opened the email. If you try to recall using Outlook on a mobile device, the original email can remain in the recipient's inbox. The recall process may not work if you attempt to recall an email from an address that isn't in the Office 365 system.

Related: 13 Tips for Effective Use of Email in the Workplace

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Tips to avoid recalling an email in Outlook

There are some actions you can take to avoid having to recall an email. You can read over your email to look for any errors you might have missed while writing it. You can also check your email address to ensure you're sending it to the right person.

There's also a setting in Outlook that allows you to delay your emails so they don't send right away. This can give you time to check your emails for any mistakes, then cancel or edit the email without sending notifications to the recipient. You can delay your Outlook emails by following these instructions:

  1. Select "File" in the left corner of Outlook.

  2. Scroll to "Manage Rules & Alerts."

  3. Select the "New Rule" option in the "Rules & Alerts" window that appears on your screen.

  4. Click "Apply Rules on Messages I Send" and hit the "Next" button to continue.

  5. Select "Next" again, then choose "Yes" on the confirmation screen.

  6. Choose "Defer Delivery By a Number of Minutes," select the "A Number of" link to enter your preferred delay, click "OK" and hit "Next."

  7. Enter any exceptions to the delay that you'd like, then hit the "Next" button.

  8. Give the delay a name and check "Turn On This Rule," then hit "Finish."

Frequently asked questions

How do you know if the recall worked?

After you recall the message, you can expect to receive a new email with the subject "Message Recall Report." This lets you know the recall was successful. It usually takes less than 30 seconds to receive this notification, though it can take longer if you've recalled a message to a large number of recipients.

Can you recall an Outlook message on the web?

You can only recall an email if you're using Outlook for Windows. You can't recall a message if you're using If you're using this web-based email service, you can set up an undo send option instead. This option allows you to cancel the email within five to 10 seconds after sending it.

Does a recall work if the other person has Microsoft Outlook?

You can only use the recall option if both you and the recipient have Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365 and belong to the same organization. If another person uses Outlook but works outside of the organization, you can't recall an email you sent to them.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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