How to Recall an Email in Outlook

With some luck, you might catch it

Computer keyboard enter key with a magic quick fix button concept

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If you send an email and then realize that it is addressed to the wrong person, doesn't include an important attachment, or has an embarrassing mistake, cancel the email. Outlook provides a built-in feature that recalls an email or replaces a message, although there are a few key requirements. Learn how to retract an email in Outlook as well as what may or may not happen when you do.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007; and Outlook for Office 365.

Requirements to Recall an Email

To recall Outlook email:

  • Both you and your recipient must have an Exchange server email account and use Outlook as the email client.
  • The recipient's mailbox is open when you attempt to process a recall.
  • The original message is unread and is in the recipient's Inbox.
  • The message was not touched by any process, such as a rule, spam filter, or add-in.

When you attempt to retract email, Outlook may notify the recipient of the recalled email.

How to Recall an Email in Outlook (and Replace It, if Desired)

To recall an email in Outlook:

  1. Open Outlook and go to the Sent Items folder. 

    Outlook interface viewing the Sent items folder contents.
  2. Double-click the sent message you want to recall to open it in a separate window.

    The options to recall a message are not available when the message is displayed in the Reading Pane.

    An opened email from the Sent items folder in Outlook.
  3. Go to the Message tab, select the Actions dropdown arrow, and choose Recall This Message.

    Recalling an email in Outlook.
  4. In the Recall This Message dialog box, select one of the following:

    • Delete Unread Copies of This Message to recall the message.
    • Delete Unread Copies and Replace With a New Message to replace the message with a new one.
    A recall message dialog box is open in Outlook.
  5. If you want to receive notification of the results, select the Tell Me if Recall Succeeds or Fails for Each Recipient check box. 

  6. Select OK.

  7. If you selected Delete Unread Copies and Replace with a New Message, modify the original message.

    An email message has been recalled in Outlook.
  8. Select Send.

  9. You'll receive an Outlook notification message regarding the success or failure of your attempt to retract or replace the email. 

Possible Results When You Recall Outlook Email

Depending on the settings of the recipient's email client, whether the original email has already been read, and several other factors, the results of your attempt to recall a message can vary. Following are some of the potential results of an Outlook recall. 

If the recipient has read the message, the recall will fail. Both the original message and the new message (or notification of your attempt to recall the original message) are available to the recipient. 

If the recipient has not opened the original message and opens the recall message first, the original message is deleted. Outlook informs the recipient that you deleted the message from their mailbox.

These results also occur if the recipient moves both messages to the same folder, either manually or using a rule.

If the recipient enabled Process requests and responses on arrival under Tracking Options, and the recipient has not read the original email, Outlook deletes the original message and informs the recipient that you deleted the message.

However, if the original message is marked as read when the recall message is processed, the recipient is informed that you want to delete the message. The original message remains in the recipient's inbox.

If the recipient moves the original message out of the inbox and into another folder (manually or using a rule) and the recall message goes to the inbox, the retraction fails regardless of whether either has been read or not. The recipient is informed that a recall attempt failed. The recipient has access to both the original and the new email message. 

In addition, if you use Outlook on a mobile device and attempt to recall a message, the process will likely fail. 

Delay Sending Messages

Sending an incorrect email can be counterproductive and even embarrassing. While Outlook’s recall feature might save you in a pinch, you can alleviate some stress by scheduling or delaying messages to be sent. This gives you time to recognize errors or update information before your email lands in your recipient’s inbox.