How to Recall an Email in Outlook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing Email Mistakes


Sending an email can be nerve-racking, especially when it contains important information or was intended for a specific individual. Accidentally sending an email to the wrong person, with incorrect details, or misspelling someone’s name can cause frustration and embarrassment. Luckily, if you’re an Outlook user, recalling an email can be done in a few easy steps. In this article, we’ll explore the step-by-step guide to recalling an email in Outlook, along with common mistakes and alternative options, including personal experiences and best practices for successful emailing.

Step-by-Step Guide

Outlook 365 offers a feature that allows users to recall email messages that haven’t been read yet by the recipient or are located in the same Exchange organization. Follow these steps to retract your email and fix a mistake:

1. Navigate to your ‘Sent Items’ folder.

2. Double-click on the email message you want to recall to open it.

3. Select the ‘Message’ tab from the menu ribbon.

4. Click on ‘Actions’ and select ‘Recall This Message’ from the options.

5. Choose one of the two options provided:

  • Delete unread copies of the message
  • Delete unread copies and replace with a new message (this allows you to correct the mistake and send a new email)

6. Click OK and wait for the notification to confirm the status

Video Tutorial

If you find steps harder to follow visually or you simply prefer watching someone else complete the task, we recommend you watch this tutorial video, which explains the process of recalling an email.

If you prefer another tutorial or an article that may help, you can find more on Microsoft’s support page.

Common Mistakes

Recalling an email in Outlook can fail if the recipient has already read the message or if the email was sent to someone outside the Exchange organization. Other common mistakes you should avoid when recalling an email include:

  • believing email recall is a foolproof method (it only works in select circumstances)
  • not realizing recalling the email doesn’t mean the email is deleted forever. The recipient still has a copy in their inbox
  • neglecting to set the Preference quickly. Outlook 365 provides a default time of 120 seconds before the Recall This Message option disappears from the Actions menu.

Alternative Options

In some cases, recalling an email in Outlook may not be possible or may not be effective. If you find yourself in this situation, try deleting the email from your outbox folder, which prevents it from being sent. Additionally, Outlook offers a feature to delay an email message if you require more time to review it. Follow these steps to delay an email:

1. Compose your email as usual

2. Click on the ‘Options’ tab from the menu ribbon.

3. Select the ‘Delay Delivery’ option in the More Options group.

4. In the ‘Delivery Options’ section, select the checkbox ‘Do not deliver before’.

5. Choose the date and time when you want the message to be delivered.

6. Click close, and then hit the Send button

These options can save you from embarrassing mistakes and allow you to have more control over the content of your email.

Best Practices

Successful emailing is an art, and it takes practice. Avoiding making mistakes in the first place is the ideal outcome. Here are some best practices for emailing and when you should consider using the recall email feature:

  • Double-check the details before hitting send. Review the recipient(s), subject line, and content meticulously to avoid mistakes.
  • Consider using the delay delivery feature for when you want to review your message before you send it
  • Think twice before hitting send. Ask yourself: Would I say this in person? Is this necessary or appropriate for the recipient?
  • Use concise and clear language. Keep it professional and appropriate for the recipient.
  • Recall an email when you have accidentally sent the wrong attachment, sensitive information, or the incorrect recipient.

Personal Experiences

We’ve all been there – frantically trying to recall an email message seconds after sending it. Here are a few real-world examples of recalling an email in Outlook, along with lessons learned from each:

Accidental Reply-All

After composing an email message, Jamie inadvertently clicked ‘Reply All’ instead of just replying to her boss’s question. The email contained sensitive company information not meant for all the recipients. Jamie quickly realized her mistake and went on to recall the message before many of the recipients had the opportunity to view it. Jamie learned to double-check the recipients before hitting send and how to react quickly when she needs to prevent a message from being delivered.

Incorrect Attachment

Lucy was sending out a company-wide meeting reminder but mistakenly attached the wrong document. Lucy realized her mistake seconds after sending the message. She immediately recalled the message and sent out a new email with the right attachment. Lucy learned the importance of double-checking attachments before hitting send.

Productivity Tips

Beyond the Recall feature, Outlook provides other functionality that can make emailing simpler and more efficient, such as:

  • Create quick steps to reduce repetitive tasks you do in your emails
  • Use filters to organize and prioritize your inbox
  • Make use of categories to group related emails
  • Use rules to automatically manage specific types of emails (for example, send them to a specific folder)
  • Customize your Outlook experience by establishing your preferences for your email, tasks, calendar, and more.


Emailing blunders happen, but Outlook’s recall feature makes it easy for you to rectify your mistakes. Remember, the recall feature does not guarantee that your message is gone forever, and to use it correctly, Outlook needs to be correctly configured. With the help of this article, you now have the necessary tools to recall an email in Outlook successfully. We’ve covered the step-by-step guide to recall an email, alternative options, and best practices, including real-world examples and productivity tips. Using these techniques will simplify your work life and make emailing a breeze.

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