Undo a Sent message in Outlook

Two options for recalling a message sent from Outlook – one if you’re quick and another if you wait.

Gmail has a message recall option that lets you stop a message you’ve sent – Outlook has two features to do similar things with more options.

One of the Gmail ‘labs’ options is ‘Undo Send’ which gives you a few seconds to stop a message you’ve sent but had second thoughts.

Recently Office-Watch.com looked at some Outlook variations on the Gmail ‘Priority Inbox’. This time we’ll explain the two message recall options for sent messages available in Outlook.


Delay Sending

The first option is to delay sending messages. This leaves the message in the Outbox folder for a period of time where you can open or delete it before sending.

Do this with an Outlook Rule

In Outlook 2002 (XP) go to Tools | Rules Wizard

In Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 go to Tools | Rules and Alerts

Outlook 2010 go to the Home tab | Rules | Manage Rules and Alerts | New Rule

Outlook - rule on message I send.jpg image from Undo a Sent message in Outlook at Office-Watch.com

Below the usual option for incoming messages there’s a rule option for outgoing messages.

On the next screen you can select which messages will be affected by the rule. Choose NONE of the available options and click ‘Next’. Outlook will warn you that the rule will apply to all messages you send – choose Yes to continue.

The next wizard screen shows the actions to take on outgoing messages. We’re interested in the ‘defer delivery’ choice.

Outlook - Rule - Deferred Delivery.jpg image from Undo a Sent message in Outlook at Office-Watch.com

Click on that option then the ‘a number of’ link in Step 2 to choose the amount of delay.

Finally there is a step to nominate exceptions. In this case there might be important or time-sensitive messages that you don’t want to delay. You could setup an exception for outgoing messages with High importance or messages to certain people.

Once the rule is running, when you click ‘Send’ the message will sit in the Outbox folder for the specified time. When in the Outbox you can click open the message to edit or delete it.


Message Recall

Outlook also has a ‘Recall Message’ option for messages already sent.

This feature sends a second ‘recall’ request message either to delete the message or replace it. How this recall request is handled depends on the email software used by the receiver – the message might be deleted/replaced or not.

Generally speaking ‘Recall Message’ works better inside an organization where messages are handled via Exchange Server and most users have the same or similar versions of Outlook.

To try recalling a message, find the item in the ‘Sent Items’ folder, open it and find the ‘Recall Message’ option.

Outlook - Recall Message.jpg image from Undo a Sent message in Outlook at Office-Watch.com

Then cross your fingers to see what happens!

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