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How to Recall a Message in Outlook

Sending an email to the wrong recipient or realizing you’ve made an error in your message can be a nightmare. Fortunately, Microsoft Outlook offers a feature to recall an email, allowing you to undo this mistake. In this guide, we will delve into the steps required to recall a message in Outlook, discuss common issues, and provide useful tips for a successful recall.

Understanding Email Recall in Outlook

Recalling a message in Outlook essentially attempts to delete the unread copy of the email from the recipient’s inbox. This feature is particularly useful when you’ve sent an email to the wrong person, forgotten to attach a file, or made an error that you need to correct quickly.

Requirements for Recalling a Message

  1. Both parties must be using Microsoft Outlook. The recall feature only works if both the sender and the recipient are using Outlook and are on the same email server, typically within the same organization.
  2. The recipient’s email must be unopened. The recall will only be successful if the recipient hasn’t opened the email yet.
  3. Server configurations. Certain server settings and configurations need to be enabled for the recall to work.

Steps to Recall a Message in Outlook

Step 1: Open Sent Items

  1. Navigate to the Sent Items folder in your Outlook.
  2. Locate the email you wish to recall. Double-click to open it.

Step 2: Access the Recall Option

  1. With the email open, go to the Message tab.
  2. In the Move group, click on Actions.
  3. Select Recall This Message.

Step 3: Choose Recall Options

  1. A dialog box will appear with two options:
    • Delete unread copies of this message
    • Delete unread copies and replace with a new message
  2. Select the appropriate option based on your needs.
    • If you choose to delete and replace the message, you can modify the original email and send it again.

Step 4: Confirm and Send

  1. If you chose to replace the message, make the necessary edits.
  2. Click Send to finalize the recall process.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Issue 1: The Recall Feature is Grayed Out

This issue typically occurs if you are not using a Microsoft Exchange Server or if the recipient is not using Outlook.


  • Ensure both you and the recipient are using Outlook.
  • Check with your IT department to confirm if you’re on an Exchange Server.

Issue 2: The Recipient Opened the Email

If the recipient has already opened the email, the recall attempt will fail.


  • Follow up with a corrected email and explain the mistake.
  • Use clear and direct subject lines in future emails to prevent such mistakes.

Issue 3: Server Restrictions

Sometimes, server restrictions might prevent the recall from being processed successfully.


  • Contact your IT support team to understand the specific server settings.
  • Ensure that your email account is properly configured for recalling messages.

Best Practices for Email Recalls

Double-Check Before Sending

Before hitting send, always double-check the recipient’s address, the content of your email, and any attachments. This can prevent the need for recalling a message.

Use Delay Delivery

Outlook offers a feature called Delay Delivery that allows you to schedule when your email will be sent. This provides a buffer period during which you can cancel the email if you notice a mistake.

Provide Clear Communication

In case of an error, communicate promptly and clearly with the recipient. A quick follow-up email acknowledging the mistake and providing the correct information can help maintain professionalism.

Using Delay Delivery in Outlook

Step 1: Create Your Email

  1. Compose your email as usual.
  2. In the message window, go to the Options tab.

Step 2: Set the Delivery Delay

  1. In the More Options group, click on Delay Delivery.
  2. In the Delivery Options section, check the box for Do not deliver before.
  3. Set your desired date and time.

Step 3: Send the Email

  1. Click Close to save the settings.
  2. Click Send. The email will be held in the Outbox and sent at the specified time.


Recalling an email in Microsoft Outlook can save you from potential embarrassment and help maintain professional communication. By understanding the recall feature, troubleshooting common issues, and following best practices, you can effectively manage your email communication.

Remember, the key to avoiding the need for recalls is to double-check your emails before sending. Utilize features like Delay Delivery to give yourself a buffer period and always communicate promptly if a mistake is made.

Mastering these features will enhance your email management skills and ensure that you can handle any email mishaps with ease.

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