Have you ever had that feeling as soon as you've sent a message or an email, that you've said the wrong thing? You're not alone. Email has been an exceptional addition to the administrative arsenal, but not everything good can come from something so instantaneous. Luckily, Microsoft's Outlook has a feature that can prevent this. Furthermore, while most email providers offer recall services to save us from ourselves, Outlook might just pip them all to the post. With recall, there's a way to get the sent email back before anyone sees it.

Why Might I Need to Recall an Email?

There are a lot of reasons that you might need to recall an email. Maybe you sent an invoice to your client before it was completed, or perhaps you sent it to the wrong client. You might even have sent a work email to a friend or vice versa. As much as this sounds preventable, it's also something that we've all done at one time or another. Especially in the current climate where most of our emails are written on our phones, likely within minutes of waking. Like most things on the Internet: it happens.

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Does Recalling Emails Always Work?

Unfortunately, recalling an email won't always work. In fact, there are just several strict circumstances when email recall will actually work. One of the most prominent conditions, particularly when you're using Outlook, is that the other person also needs to be using it. If the recipient of the email you've just sent is using another service or reading their emails on their smartphones, it won't work. Additionally, both parties need to be using an Exchange account and be in the same organization. If not, recall simply won't work.

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Are There Other Options to Recalling?

There are ways to circumvent the recall process if you really must. For example, you can think about setting up a way to delay your emails. This way, the emails you send won't be sent immediately, giving you time to change your mind. Although delaying an email is a great tool, there's always a chance that you'll forget to do this. Then you can try to recall the email, giving you a second chance.

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How Can I Tell if the Email Was Recalled?

If you've had the chance to recall your email in Outlook, you'll receive an email notification that it's been successfully recalled. The original email you sent to the recipient will be replaced with the new one. Additionally, the recipient shouldn't be able to tell that you've used recall. However, in some situations, the recipient will be made aware that an email has been recalled. While this could spark curiosity, you can always simply tell them why. Chances are they've been in your exact position.

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What's the Difference Between Delaying and Recalling An Email?

Because of how finicky email recall can be, delaying your emails might be a better option. Delaying gives you a two-minute window to retract the outgoing email before it's sent. This can provide a different, slightly more successful way of ensuring the wrong message doesn't go to the wrong people. With recall, there is no delay. In fact, it's all a game of chance.

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How to Recall An Email in Outlook

The actual process of recalling an email in Outlook is pretty simple. If you put the possibilities of it not working to one side, it's technically as simple as clicking a button.

  1. Open "Sent Items" folder
  2. Locate the email you want to recall
  3. Double-click the email to open it
  4. Ensure you're in the "Message" tab
  5. Open the "Actions" menu
  6. Click "Recall This Message..."

Note: You'll only see the option to recall the message if you have an Exchange account.

After you've done these steps, you'll see the recall window. This will allow you to choose between deleting the original copy of the email or replacing it with the right one.

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How to Delay a Message in Outlook

Because delaying a message in Outlook will give you a better chance of avoiding mishaps, it might be worth looking into this. If you set up a delay or schedule the email, you'll be able to edit it before it sends.

  1. When you're composing your email, click "More options" from the "Tags" group
  2. Go to "Delivery options"
  3. Select "Do not deliver before"
  4. Set a date and a time when you want the message to be sent
  5. Click "Close"

Once you've sent the email, it will stay in the outbox until it's scheduled to be sent. You can also change when you want the message to be delayed at an earlier time.

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How to Delay All Email Deliveries

There's also a way to delay every outgoing message from that moment forth.

  1. Click "File"
  2. Go to "Manage Rules & Alerts"
  3. Click "New Rule"
  4. In the first box ("Select a template") click "Apply rule on messages I send"
  5. Hit "Next"
  6. In the "Select condition(s)" list, select the check boxes for the options you want to enable
  7. Under "Select action(s)," choose "defer delivery by a number of minutes"
  8. In the "Edit the rule description" box, click "a number of" and choose how many minutes you want the delay to be
  9. Click "OK"
  10. In the "Specify a name for this rule" box, name your new rule (e.g., delay)
  11. Click the "Turn on this rule" checkbox
  12. Hit "Finish"

From this email forward, all of your emails will be delayed by anything up to 120 minutes.

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Which Other Services Offer Email Recall?

As well as Outlook, several other web-based email services offer recall too. However, the chances of recalling with Outlook are greater than any. Gmail and Zoho Mail both offer the ability to recall emails. While arguably not as good as Outlook, each has their own plus side.

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Are There Any Third-Party Services to Use?

As helpful as email recall might be, there are no benefits to relying on it. There are third-party services out there that can stop emails being sent to the wrong people. Using machine learning and big data analysis, these services can use previous email patterns to identify an email that would otherwise be sent to recall. Three of the best are NeoCertified, Egress, and Paubox.

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