How to Recall an Email in Outlook

We’ve all been there – you hit send on an email and immediately realize you made a mistake. Maybe you had a typo, forgot to attach a file, or regret what you wrote in haste. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take back that message before the recipient sees it?

With Outlook, you actually can recall an email after sending it. However, there are limitations on when email recall works. This guide will explain exactly how to recall a sent email in Outlook, as well as the conditions that allow message recall to work or prevent it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Recalling an email in Outlook removes it from the recipient’s inbox before they open it, but only if specific conditions are met.
  • Message recall works between Outlook accounts on Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange in the same organization. It does not work for Gmail or other external domains.
  • Open the sent message, click “Recall This Message”, and wait for a recall report email confirming if it succeeded.
  • Recall must be done shortly after sending and only before the recipient opens the email.
  • Limitations prevent recall between different organizations or mail services like Gmail.

Recalling Email Step-by-Step in Outlook

The way you recall an email in Outlook depends slightly on which version you are using:

In Newer Versions of Outlook:

  1. In the left folder pane, click on Sent Items to view your sent messages.
  2. Double-click to open the sent message you want to recall.
  3. In the toolbar at the top, click Recall This Message. It has a curved arrow symbol on it.
  4. A prompt will appear – click OK to confirm recalling the message.
  5. Wait for a recall report email to arrive in your inbox within a minute or two. It will confirm if the recall succeeded or failed.

In Classic Versions of Outlook:

  1. Go to Sent Items and double-click the message to open it.
  2. On the Ribbon at the top, go to the Messages tab then click Actions.
  3. Select Recall This Message from the dropdown menu.
  4. A prompt will appear – click OK to confirm recalling the message.
  5. A recall report email will confirm the status within a minute or two.

That’s all you need to do to recall an email! Next let’s look at the ideal conditions that allow message recall to work.

When Does Recalling Emails Work – and When It Doesn’t

The ability to recall sent messages is an amazing feature, but does come with limitations:

  • Must Use Microsoft 365 or Exchange – Both you and the recipient must be on these platforms under the same organization. Does not work between consumer Outlook.com accounts.
  • Only Within the Same Organization – Email accounts must be on the same Microsoft 365 or Exchange domain. No recall between different companies.
  • Not for External Domains Like Gmail – Can only recall emails sent to recipients within your organization, not outside domains.
  • Must Act Quickly – Recall must be done shortly after sending, before the recipient opens the email.
  • Recall Takes Time – It may take up to 24 hours for Outlook to fully process a recall request and notify you of the result.
  • No Guarantees – Even when conditions are met, there is no guarantee a recall will succeed. The email may still go through.

Essentially, message recall works best as a way to quickly prevent delivery of an unintended email to a coworker before they see it. But limitations prevent it from being an undo button for any email you wish you hadn’t sent.

Waiting for the Recall Report

When you request a recall, Outlook will take some time to process it in the background and send you a report by email. This recall report will tell you one of three things:

  • Recall Succeeded – The email was recalled before the recipient opened it and they will no longer see it in their inbox. Victory!
  • Recall Failed – The recipient already opened the email before the recall took effect. Unfortunately, they still have access to the message.
  • Recall Pending – Outlook is still trying to process the recall request. Check back on the status later.

The recall report should arrive in your inbox within a minute or two in most cases. However, if recalling from a number of recipients, it can understandably take much longer to confirm the status for each one. Outlook will keep working on processing the recall request for up to 24 hours if needed.

Troubleshooting When Message Recall Doesn’t Work

If your recall report comes back saying the recall failed or is still pending after some time has passed, here are some things to check:

  • Is the recipient using Microsoft 365 or Exchange? – Recall won’t work if they are on a different mail service like Gmail or Yahoo.
  • Are you in the same organization? – Both accounts need to be on the same domain for message recall to function between them.
  • Did you act quickly enough? – If even a few minutes went by before you recalled, the recipient may have already seen the email.
  • Is Outlook up-to-date? – Use the latest Outlook version and make sure to install updates when available.
  • Do you have admin permissions? – Some organizations restrict message recall to admins only. Check with your IT department.
  • Is the email stuck in a queue? – Heavy traffic may cause delays in Outlook processing the recall. Give it some more time.

While message recall is handy, don’t rely on it as a surefire way to get an email back. Use care when drafting emails to avoid mistakes up front. Also consider following up with the recipient if a recall fails to minimize any confusion.

FAQs About Recalling Outlook Emails

Can you recall an email after it is opened?

No, Outlook’s message recall feature only works before the recipient opens the email. Once they view it, the message cannot be recalled.

Does recalling an email delete it permanently?

For the recipient, a successfully recalled email is removed from their inbox like it was never sent. But the sent email still exists in your own Sent folder.

Can you recall an Outlook email after 30 days?

No, Outlook will only process a recall request for up to 24 hours after the message is sent. After that, recall is no longer possible.

Does recall work for Outlook on the web?

Yes, the Outlook web interface has the same ability to recall sent messages as the desktop email client. The steps are the same.

Can you recall an email sent to multiple people?

You can recall an email sent to multiple recipients, but Outlook will process each recipient separately. The recall may succeed for some recipients but not others.

Putting Message Recall to Use

The ability to recall sent emails can be invaluable when you realize immediately after sending that a message contains a blunder or shouldn’t have been sent. While limitations exist between Outlook consumer accounts, it works well amongst coworkers on the same Microsoft 365 or Exchange domain.

Remember that quick action is required, as any delay may mean the recipient has already seen the email. Pay close attention to the recall report to confirm if your attempt succeeded or not. Although not perfect, Outlook’s message recall feature remains quite useful when applied properly.

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