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Recalling emails sent with Outlook

There are many reasons why you might want to recall an email.   For example, perhaps the email contained a mistake, or was sent to the wrong person.

It is possible to recall an email, but only if:

  • the recipient is using Outlook on an Exchange system;
  • the message was not routed outside of Exchange;
  • the recipient is logged in;
  • the email has not already been seen by the recipient;
  • the email is still in the recipient's Inbox;
  • the recipient is not using Cached Exchange Mode nor working offline;
  • the mis-sent email is in your Sent Items folder.

So, you can see that it's actually quite difficult to recall an email!

ALWAYS take time to verify the content and intended recipients of an email before you send it.

To attempt to recall an email in Outlook, do the following:

  1. In Outlook, go to your Sent Items folder.
  2. Find the message you want to recall, and double-click it in the message list:

    Outlook 2010: selecting a message to recall
  3. In the Message tool bar, click on the Actions tool button and click on Recall This Message... in the drop-down menu:

    Outlook 2010: select the recall action
  4. In the Recall This Message dialogue box, select Delete unread copies of this message.  Also select the Tell me if recall succeeds...' option.   Then click OK:

    Outlook 2010: recall dialogue
  5. Above the top of the message you should see a confirmation note:

    Outlook 2010: recall attempt confirmation

What happens next is beyond your control.   The recipient can choose to allow your message to be recalled unread and removed from their mailbox, but human nature being what it is, it's quite likely that they'll read the message anyway.  It's probably better to call them directly, admit your mistake and ask them to delete the message.




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This is question number 2619, which appears in the following categories:

Created by Andy Clews on 20 December 2013 and last updated by Richard Byrom-Colburn on 20 October 2016