How to Recall an Email in Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo: The Ultimate Guide

How to Recall an Email in Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo: The Ultimate Guide
Yurii Bitko Yurii Bitko 21 may 2024, 15:28 296
For beginners

Every email user can remember a few occasions when they sent an email with missing details, typos, or other errors. Don't fret if you're in this category because it happens to virtually everyone. The good news is that there's a solution to this problem. Quite often, you can recall your emails and save yourself some unease. Tune in as we explain how to recall an email in Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo.

What Is An Email Recall?

Recalling means retrieving an email that you've already sent. Upon successful retrieval, you can permanently delete it or send an updated one instead. Recalling is useful when you mistakenly send an email with errors, typos, missing attachments, or wrong recipient addresses.

However, note that email recalling has many limitations, and you may be unable to recall an email under certain circumstances. Gmail and Yahoo Mail only give a short time to retract an email. Outlook allows you to recall emails within a 2-hour window, but you have to jump through some hoops to access this feature.

How To Recall An Email In Gmail

Gmail offers a default Undo Send feature, which enables users to retract an email shortly after sending it. After hitting the send button, you typically have 5 seconds to click "Undo" and recall the message. However, on the configurations page, Gmail lets you increase your Undo window up to 30 seconds.

Once you hit the send button on any email, the Undo button automatically appears in the bottom-left corner of your screen. Depending on your current settings, you have up to 30 seconds to click this button before it disappears.

Technically, Gmail doesn't send your email until the allotted time for the Undo button elapses. Clicking this button means the recipient won't get the email you chose to retract.

How To Recall An Email In Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail does not provide any option to recall emails in the web client. Once you hit the send button, the email is gone for good. The best you can do is send another email correcting the errors in the previous one.

However, Yahoo allows users to retract emails sent from its mobile app. After composing and sending a message from the Yahoo Mail mobile app, you'll see a box notifying you that the message has been sent. This box also includes an Undo button that disappears in 3 seconds, so you need to act quickly. Clicking the Undo button retracts the email, which you can correct or delete. The drawback here is the short 3-second window for unsending emails.

Recalling and Replacing Emails In Outlook

Outlook stands out because it lets users recall emails for up to 120 minutes (2 hours) after hitting the send button. You can either delete the email or replace it with a new one.

However, the recalling feature is limited to Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange accounts. It's supported in Outlook versions 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021, and Outlook 365. You can't access the recall feature in the web client or mobile app. Additionally, both yours and your addressee’s email accounts must be in the same organization. This means that an email sent from Outlook to a Hotmail or Gmail address cannot be recalled at all.

How To Recall an Outlook Email

Follow these steps to recall an email that you sent in error:

  • Go to the Sent Items folder and find the email you want to unsend.
  • Double-click on the email to open it in a fresh window.
  • On the Message tab at the top, in the Move group, click Actions > Recall This Message. As mentioned, this option is only available for up to 2 hours after emailing. If more time has passed, you will not see any recall option.
  • Under the Recall This Message dialog box that opens, choose Delete unread copies of this message. You can also check the Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient box so that Outlook will notify you about the result.

How To Recall and Replace an Outlook Email

Follow these steps to recall a message sent in error and replace it with a new message:

  • Head to your Sent Items folder and find the specific message you want to recall and replace.
  • Double-click on the message so that it opens in a new window.
  • On the Message tab, in the Move group, click Actions > Recall This Message.
  • Under the Recall This Message dialog box, choose Delete unread copies and replace with a new message.

With the above steps, Outlook automatically opens a copy of the original email in a new window. Once you've corrected the mistakes, click the Send button to replace the initial message with the new, updated one.

What Prevents Me from Recalling an Outlook Email?

Recalling an Outlook email doesn't always work. It's subject to various limitations, which we'll explain below.

1. No Office 365 or Microsoft Exchange Account

The recall feature is limited to people using Outlook with Office 365 or Microsoft Exchange server. Even if you have these accounts, you must meet further conditions for a recall to work:

  • The sender and recipient must share the same Microsoft Exchange server. Recalling can't work if the recipient uses a different email server from another email client or even a different Exchange server in the same organization.
  • The recipient must have an active Microsoft Exchange server connection. Recalling won't work if the recipient is in Cached Exchange mode, wherein emails are downloaded from the Exchange server to the recipient's device.
  • The recalled email must originate from a primary Microsoft Exchange mail address, not a Delegate or Shared address.

2. Windows Compatibility

The recall feature is only available if you use Outlook for Windows. You can't recall emails using Outlook on Mac or the web platform.

3. Mobile App Compatibility

Recalling does not work for messages the recipient reads on mobile devices. Even if the recipient uses Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) settings on their Outlook mobile app, recalling the message won't work.

4. Email Is Not in the Recipient's Outlook Inbox

Recalling works if the message being recalled is in the recipient's Outlook Inbox folder. If the recipient manually moves the message to another folder, the sender won’t be able to recall it.

5. The Recipient Has Read the Message

Recalling works for unread emails only. If the recipient has already opened the email, it cannot be deleted from their inbox. Instead, they will only receive a notification that you've requested to unsend the original email. Messages sent to public and shared folders can hardly be recalled because someone else might have read the message even if they're not the intended recipient.

Recalling doesn't work if you fall into the above limitations. The best you can do is message the recipient directly to ignore the preceding email or send a corrected email to give them the relevant information.

What Happens After Recalling An Email In Outlook?

A recall either succeeds or fails, depending on various factors. If you check the Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient box when retracting your message, Outlook will notify you whether your attempt worked.

Successful Recall

Sender: You'll receive a report confirming that your email has been successfully recalled.

Recipient: The deletion or replacement goes unnoticed if the recipient didn't open the initial message. If the recipient has opened the message, they'll be notified about your request to recall and/or replace it.

Failed Recall

Sender: Outlook will send you a report about the failed recall attempt.

Recipient: In most cases, the recipient doesn't notice that you tried to recall the message. Sometimes, they'll get notified about the recall attempt while the original message remains in their inbox.

How Do I Check An Email's Recall Status?

Outlook automatically generates a report for every message you recall, and you can view this report by following these steps:

  • 1. Open the Message Recall Report menu in your Outlook inbox.
  • 2. Click on the menu’s View Message Recall Report link to open a new report in your web browser.
  • 3. Check the recall status of the specific message. The report shows all the successful, pending, and failed recall attempts, with details on each message.

Recovering A Recalled Email In Outlook

On the “receiving end” of a recalled message, you might get a notification about a new message while being unable to find it. However, it's possible to recover a recalled message that was stored in your inbox for a while.

  • 1. Click on the Restore Deleted Items button in your Outlook's Folder tab. Alternatively, open the Deleted Items folder and click the Recover items recently removed from this folder link at the top.
  • 2. Search for a "Recall" message in the dialog box, and you'll see the original message above it.
  • 3. Select the original message, click Restore Selected Items, and click OK.

What Does Getting A Recalled Message Mean?

If you receive a notification about a recalled message, the sender wants you to ignore the original message and has tried to unsend it. Later you might get a new message from the sender or no message at all, but what stands is that the sender doesn't want you to read the original message.

Recalling Messages in Outlook on the Web

Microsoft also offers Outlook on the web, a special web-based version of Outlook. Unlike the typical, which doesn't support email recall, this version does allow you to recall emails. Follow these steps:

  • 1. Select Sent Items from the top menu and double-click the sent message to open it in a new window.
  • 2. Select Recall Message from the ribbon and click OK in the confirmation dialog box.

You'll receive a Message Recall Report shortly after following the above steps in your Outlook inbox. Follow the link in the message to see whether your recall attempt succeeded, failed, or is pending.

Alternatives To Retracting A Message

As you’ve seen, recalling a message is in no way guaranteed. However, you have some additional options to prevent the wrong email from causing problems.

1. Send an apology and explain the issue

You can send an apology note to the recipient, telling them why they should ignore the previous message. Acknowledge the mistake, apologize sincerely, and address any recipient's concerns. It's a simple solution that works well most of the time.

2. Delay email sending

If you’ve sent an email containing sensitive information, a recall failure could be costly. To avoid issues, you can delay such messages for a specific time interval, which gives you enough room to unsend the Outlook email if needed.

  • 1. While composing the message, open the dropdown menu next to the send button and select Schedule Send.
  • 2. Select one of the default options or choose a custom time.

With the above steps, Outlook will keep the message in the Draft folder until delivery time. You can revisit the message to correct errors before it’s on the way.

Final Words

Email clients may allow users to recall and unsend emails they sent by mistake. However, recalling takes meticulous steps, and you might experience hassles when trying to do it. We've shown how recalling works and how to recall emails on Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail. Follow our tips, and one day you may save yourself the stress of explaining and apologizing for sending an incorrect or incomplete email.

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