Schedule an Email to Be Sent at a Later Time in Outlook

The 30th generation male businessman who uses a notebook PC
Indeed/Getty Images

Microsoft Outlook supports the scheduling of email messages to be sent at a later date and time instead of sending them immediately.

Scheduling Delayed Delivery of Emails in Outlook

For the latest versions of Microsoft Outlook after 2016, follow these steps:

  1. Select a message in your inbox and click the Reply, Reply All or Forward button in the ribbon menu. Otherwise, click the New Email button in the upper left of the ribbon menu.
  2. Compose and address your message.
  3. When you are ready to send your email, click the small down arrow on the right side of the Send Email button to open the delay menu — don't click the main part of the Send Email button, or it will send your email immediately.
  4. From the popup menu, click the Send Later option.
  5. Set the date and time you want the email to be sent.
  6. Click Send.

Email messages that are scheduled but have not yet been sent can be found in your Drafts folder.

If you change your mind and want to cancel or change the email, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Drafts folder in the left side pane.
  2. Click your scheduled email. Below the email header details, you will see a message indicating when the email is scheduled to be sent.
  3. Click the Cancel Send button on the right side of this email schedule message.
  4. Click Yes in the dialog box to confirm that you want to cancel sending the scheduled email.

Your email will then be canceled and reopened so that you can edit it. From here you can reschedule a different send time, or send the email immediately by clicking the Send button.

Scheduling Emails in Older Versions of Outlook

For the Microsoft Outlook versions from Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2016, follow these steps:

  1. Start with a new message, or reply to or forward a message in your inbox by selecting it.
  2. Click the Options tab in the message window.
  3. Click Delay Delivery in the More Options group. If you don't see the Delay Delivery option, expand the More Options group by clicking the expansion icon in the lower right corner of the group block.
  4. Under Delivery options, check the box next to Do not deliver before and set the date and time you want the message to be sent.
  5. Click Send.

For Outlook 2000 to Outlook 2003, follow these steps:

  1. In the email message window, click View > Options in the menu.
  2. Under Delivery options, check the box next to Do not deliver before.
  3. Set the desired delivery date and time using the dropdown lists.
  4. Click Close.
  5. Click Send.

Your scheduled emails that have not yet been sent can be found in the Outbox folder.

If you change your mind and want to send your email immediately, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the scheduled email in the Outbox folder.
  2. Select the delayed message.
  3. Click Options.
  4. In the More Options group, click Delay Delivery.
  5. Uncheck the box next to Do not deliver before
  6. Click the Close button.
  7. Click Send. The email will be sent immediately.

Create a Send Delay for All Emails

You can create an email message template that automatically includes a send delay for all messages you create and send. This is handy if you often find yourself wishing you could make a change to an email you just sent — or you have ever sent an email that you regret sending hastily.

By adding a default delay to all your emails, you prevent them from being sent immediately, so that you can go back and make changes or cancel them if it's within the delay you create.

To create an email template with a send delay, follow these steps (for Windows):

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Then click Manage Rules & Alerts > New Rule.
  3. Click Apply rule located under Start from a Blank Rule.
  4. From the Select condition(s) list, check the boxes next to options that you want to be applied.
  5. Click Next. If a confirmation box appears (you will receive one if you did not select any options), click Yes, and all messages you send will have this rule applied to them.
  6. In the Select action(s) list, check the box next to defer delivery by a number of minutes.
  7. Click the phrase number of and enter the number of minutes you want to delay emails being sent. The maximum is 120 minutes.
  8. Click OK and then click Next.
  9. Check boxes next to any exceptions you wish to be made when the rule is applied.
  10. Click Next.
  11. Type a name for this rule in the field.
  12. Check the box next to Turn on this rule.
  13. Click Finish.

Now when you click Send for any email, it will first go to your Outbox or Drafts folder where it will wait the specified amount of time before being sent.

What Happens If Outlook Is Not Running at the Delivery Time?

If Outlook is not open and running at the time a message reaches its scheduled delivery time, the message will not be delivered. The next time you launch Outlook, the message will be sent immediately.

If you are using a cloud-based version of Outlook, such as, your scheduled emails will be sent at the correct time whether you have the website open or not.

What Happens If There Is No Internet Connection at the Delivery Time?

If you are not connected to the internet at the time of scheduled delivery and Outlook is open, Outlook will attempt to deliver the email at the specified time, but it will fail. You will see an Outlook Send/Receive Progress error window.

Outlook will also automatically try to send again, though, at a later time. When the connection is restored, Outlook will send the message.

Again, if you are using the cloud-based for email, your scheduled messages will not be limited by your connectivity.

Note that the same is true if Outlook is set to working in offline mode at the scheduled time of delivery. Outlook will then automatically send as soon as the account used for the message is working online again.