How to recall email in Outlook, Premium and iPhone

We’ve all had regrets about an email – an embarrassing typo, misspelled name, or missing attachment can have us looking for an unsend button. Or the worst case: An angry email that you wish you could take back after cooling down. But does that magic email recall function even exist?
Today we explain when and how you can unsend an email.

by Alyssa Schmitt
Group of young professionals at table looking at computers
If you send an email within your organization, you may be able to recall it.

Why it’s difficult to recall emails

Although we are sure you have good reasons for wanting to get your email back, we have bad news for you – in most cases, you are out of luck. Once the email leaves your mailbox, you give up control over it.  When the email is sent, your email program sends a copy to the email server used by your recipient’s email program. After this happens, your email program has no way to reach into another email server and delete your message.

The exception will be if you and your recipient are using the same email program and the same email server – as in the next example:

How to recall an email in Outlook

First, the good news. If you use Outlook, it may be possible to recall an email you’ve sent. Second, the bad news: the key word here is “may”. If you and the recipient both use Outlook through Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365 AND are in the same organization, you can recall an email you sent.
If you use Outlook with a POP or IMAP account, the recall function is not available. It will also not work if the recipient uses a different email program than Outlook, e.g., Gmail, etc... And finally, the recall only works if the recipient’s mailbox is open, and they have not read the email yet.

Here is how the email recall function works in Outlook:

  1. Go to your Sent Items folder
  2. Locate the message you’d like to get back and double click to open it
  3. There are two locations for the recall command; you may have one or both depending on your version of Outlook:
    1. Open the File tab and click Message Resend and Recall, or
    2.  In the Message ribbon, click the Actions dropdown menu
  4. If you would like to delete the message from the recipient(s) inbox, select Recall This Message
  5. If you would like to edit the message and replace it with the new version in the recipient(s) inbox, select Resend This Message
  6. Select your preferred options and confirm with OK
  7. If you have chosen to send a replacement message, make your desired edits and click Send.
Screenshot of Outlook recall email dialog
Outlook has the option of recalling or replacing your email

If you tried to recall a message with Outlook and couldn’t locate the recall function as described in step 3, this likely means your organization does not allow the function or your Outlook is not an Exchange account.

How long does it take to recall an email and how do I know if it worked?

Now all you have to do is wait! The recall action should usually be quick, but if doesn’t work right away (e.g. because the recipient’s mailbox isn’t available) the program will repeat the attempt for up to 24 hours. If you requested a notification, you would receive an email letting you know when the recall has succeeded (or if it ultimately failed).

How to undo send on your email

While it’s not possible to recall an email once it’s been sent to the recipient email server, many email programs have started building in a delay before your email actually departs from your mailbox. This panic button lets you have a few extra seconds to change your mind, e.g., Gmail gives you 30 seconds to cancel the send of your email.

It’s important to understand that even if your email program has a built-in delay, once it is over, it will no longer be possible to get your email back. So, it won’t help you if you regret your choice of angry words an hour later, but it does give you a chance at redemption if you realize you selected the wrong recipient two seconds after hitting send.

Message recall with Premium

Good news, Premium members! Your mails are sent with a three second countdown during which you can still pull the plug. So, if you hit send and then immediately notice you’ve forgotten an attachment, quickly click Cancel Sending while the countdown is still running.
Screenshot of Premium cancel send countdown
Click during the countdown to cancel sending your email

How to unsend an email on iPhone

In iPhone’s mail app, email sending is now automatically delayed by 10 seconds to give you a chance to change your mind. Once you write and send your email as normal, you automatically return to your inbox. At the bottom you’ll now see the words Undo Send in blue. If you tap them, you’ll be taken back to your email, where you can make any changes, add attachments, etc. You can then send the correct version – or, if you have changed your mind completely, tap Cancel.

If you find 10 seconds too short a delay, you can change the interval to 20 or 30 seconds – or, if you prefer living dangerously, you switch off this feature. Just go to Settings > Mail > Undo Send Delay and then choose your preferred delay time. If you choose Off, you won't be able to use the unsend feature unless you go back and reactivate it.

What to do if the Undo Send option is not appearing on your iPhone

When we tried out this function, the “Undo Send” option did not show up for us while we had the “Filter by Unread” option active in our inbox. So, if you are not getting the unsend option, try deactivating any inbox filters and that may fix the problem. In addition, make sure your phone is running iOS 16 or higher – “Undo Send” is not available in earlier iOS versions. And of course, make sure the function is activated as described above.

Avoid the need for email recall

As you can see, recalling or unsending an email you regret is often not an option. This is why, as always, we recommend proofreading important emails several times (reading what you have written out loud sometimes helps catch typos). And if your emotions are running high, give yourself a cooling-off period before you send off angry words that you’ll regret later. Keep in mind that it is always possible to save your email as a draft and return to it later with fresh eyes.

We hope this post will help you next time you need to pull the emergency brake on an email.

And if you still don’t have a secure email account with, why not sign up for free here?

Images: 1&1/Shutterstock

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