How to recall an email

Recall your email message in Microsoft Outlook 2016 if you have sent out a message that you would like to have a second chance at sending. Perform these steps as quickly as possible after the email message has been sent to ensure best results.

This option will only work for recipients who are using Outlook or other compatible email client. The recall is only available on Windows clients. Outlook 2016 for Mac does not support a recall option.

  1. Open the “Sent Mail” folder or other folder where your sent items are stored.
  2. Open the message (double-click to open in a new window).
  3. Select the “Actions” option in the “Move” section of the “Message” tab.
  4. Select “Recall This Message…Recall option in Outlook 2010
  5. Choose whether to “Delete undread copies of this message” or “Delete undread copies and replace with a new message“. You can also check the “Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for recipient.” box if you wish to receive an email that tells you if the message was recalled or not.Outlook Recall This Message dialog
  6. Select “OK“.

An attempt will then be made to recall the message from each recipient. If the recipient has read the message already, the message will not be recalled. If the recipient has not read the message, it will be recalled.


I checked the “Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for recipient.” box and haven’t received confirmation that my message was recalled. How do I know my recall worked?

Sometimes it takes a while for the confirmation to arrive. I’ve found that you sometimes have to wait until the recipient has logged into Outlook again.

Will the recipient know that I have recalled the message?

In some instances, yes. Sometimes the recipient may see a message appear in their Inbox that says there is a recall attempt. This message may be seen even if the message is recalled successfully.

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The Actions and Recall options are missing from my Outlook. How do I get it back?

In Outlook 2016, you can customize the items available to you on each tab. So there’s a chance that maybe it got modified before and this option was removed. You can modify this by clicking the “Customize Quick Access” arrow, then selecting “More commands…” at the upper-left portion of the window. From there select “Quick Access Toolbar” to modify the options available. If you want to take the easy way, just select the “Reset” button.

I received a message that says “The attempted operation failed. An object cannot be found” when I tried to recall a message.

Your Outlook client is likely broken. Try the steps outlined at this Microsoft Answers post.

Recall message only works if the following criteria are met

The above example is great if message recall works you can relax and you don’t have to bear the agony of your mistake. However, it is very seldom that message recall is successful like in the example above – especially today when people read their email on a number of different devices. For message recall to be successful, all of the following have to be true:

  • You have sent the email to someone (one or multiple people) within your own organization
  • Your organization is using Microsoft Exchange as your email server
  • The recipient is using Microsoft Outlook (and Outlook is running) and logged on to the server
  • The recipient hasn’t already read the message
  • The message hasn’t been moved from the inbox

This happens when the criteria are not met

If one or more of the criteria above are not met, your message will not be deleted from the receiver’s inbox. Instead, the receiver will see an additional email informing him or her that you would like to recall the email.

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In the below example I’ve tried to recall an email sent to Ariel. Since she is outside our organization and since she is not using Exchange or Outlook the message recall does not succeed.  An email titled “Recall:” is sent, but the original, incorrect email is not deleted from the recipient’s inbox.

How to recall an email – and why you shouldn’t do it

If you are lucky, the receiver will see that you want to recall the email and simply delete it or ignore it. Unfortunately, the “recall” message often sparks the receiver’s curiosity. Now he or she will definitely open up and read the initial email and try to figure out why you wanted to recall the message.

How do you recall or replace an email in Outlook?

Recalling a message in Outlook without sending a revised message is extremely straightforward and you can do it in a few seconds.

  1. Navigate to your sent items
  2. Open the message in question
  3. At the top, search for the Message tab and click actions, you’ll then be presented with a dropdown that has the option ‘recall this message’
  4. Click the recall option

You can take this one step further by recalling a message and sending a replacement; a prime example is forgetting to include an attachment on an email. With the replace option you can simply recall the email and resend it with the attachment included. If the recipient has not read the original email it will be replaced with the updated message.

To recall and replace an email, follow these simple steps.

  1. Navigate to your sent items
  2. Open the message in question
  3. At the top, search for the Message tab and click actions, you’ll then be presented with a dropdown that has the option ‘recall this message’
  4. Click the recall option
  5. Click ‘delete unread copies and replace with a new message’
  6. Construct your updated email and send as normal
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How to recall or replace an email in Gmail

Now that we have covered Outlook our next port of call is Gmail. In recent years Gmail has rapidly emerged as a premier emailing system and millions of people across the world use it every day… that’s a lot of people who could potentially do with some form of recall or replace feature!

Countless Gmail users aren’t aware of it, but the recall feature does, in fact, exist and it’s extremely straightforward to use!

  1. Log into Gmail
  2. Click on the gear icon located in the upper right-hand corner
  3. Select ‘settings’
  4. Click the ‘labs’ tab
  5. Enable the ‘undo send’ option and save changes

From now on each time you send an email, you’ll be presented with an ‘undo’ link at the top of your screen for 30 seconds. Once your 30 seconds is up you won’t be able to recall the message so make sure you get to it on the double to avoid the embarrassment of the recipient seeing your mistake.

Unfortunately if you have previously sent an email via Gmail and haven’t enabled the ‘undo send’ option then you will be unable to recall the message, we suggest dropping the recipient a line to tell them to ignore your previous email and keep an eye out for a replacement that you’ll send manually in the next few minutes.

How often do you find yourself in a position where using a recall or replace feature is an absolute necessity?  Leave a comment below and get involved in the conversation.

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