How to Recall an Email in Outlook?

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Have you ever sent an email in Outlook and immediately realized you need to get it back? Fortunately, Outlook provides a way to recall or replace emails you have already sent, as long as the recipient has not opened it yet. This can save major embarrassment or prevent accidental sharing of sensitive information.

Recalling an email in Outlook is possible across different platforms like Outlook 2019, Outlook for Office 365, Outlook 2016 for Windows, Outlook for Mac, and the Outlook mobile app. The general process remains largely similar. Let’s walk through the step-by-step instructions.

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Prerequisites for Recalling an Email

Before recalling a sent email, some requirements need to be met:

  • The email must have been sent using Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 or later versions. Earlier Exchange versions do not support recall.
  • You should use Outlook 2016 or later on your desktop, or Outlook mobile apps connected to Exchange 2016 onwards.
  • The recipient must not have opened the email you want to recall yet. Once opened, recall won’t work.
  • You must have sent the email from your mailbox. Recalling emails sent from shared mailboxes is not possible.
  • You need to access the email from the Sent Items folder, not any custom folder.

Step-by-Step Process to Recall an Email

Important: If your account is a MAPI or POP account, recall won’t work.

Follow these steps to recall an email in Outlook:

  • Open the Sent Items folder in Outlook. This contains all outgoing emails from your mailbox.
sent items button on outlook
  • Locate and open the email you wish to recall so that it opens in a separate window.
  • Go to the File tab and click Info in the left sidebar.
  • Under Prepare for Sharing, click Message Resend and Recall → Recall This Message…
  • A Recall Message box will open. Select one of two options:
    • Delete unread copies of this message – To recall or delete the sent message
    • Delete unread copies and replace with a new message – To recall the email and replace it with a new message that you can edit
  • Check the box – Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient.
  • Click OK. If replacing the email, the original will open for editing.
  • For replacement, edit the message and click Send. The old email will be deleted from the recipient’s inbox and replaced with the edited version.
Source: Microsoft

And that’s it! Outlook will attempt to recall or replace the sent email. The success or failure notification depends on the recall settings chosen.

Important Points on Recalling Emails

There are some key pointers to remember when recalling Outlook emails:

  • Work fast! The recall needs to happen before the recipient opens the email.
  • You cannot recall emails after 30 days from sending them.
  • You can only recall emails sent directly from your mailbox, not delegated inboxes.
  • You cannot recall email forwarding or group emails in Outlook.
  • On Outlook for Mac, you need to enable ost file back-up to support recall.
  • On mobile apps, email account needs to be connected to Exchange 2016+ for recall to work.
  • You cannot recall read receipts from recipients to conceal email access.

Troubleshooting Email Recall Failure

Sometimes Outlook recall fails with an error message. Common reasons include:

  • Recipient’s Outlook not connected to an Exchange Server.
  • Recipient using an email client that does not support recalls.
  • Recipient has online archiving enabled like cloud backup.
  • 30+ days have passed since sending the email.

If the recall fails, consider contacting the recipient directly and requesting them to delete the errant email. Be honest about the mistake to maintain trust and accountability.

Use the Recall Feature Thoughtfully

Recalling emails can be useful when you inadvertently send an unfinished email or share sensitive information unintentionally. However, it does not allow going back on sent communications without a trace.

Be mindful of any power dynamics when recalling emails and use the feature sparingly. With great privilege comes great responsibility.

On that note, now you know how to recall emails in Outlook across different platforms. Use this capability prudently to avoid potentially embarrassing or harmful consequences due to unintended sent emails.


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Written by Ankit Jha


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