Can an Email Be Retracted on Outlook?

Don't panic -- you may be able to recall an email in Outlook.
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You can retract messages sent from your Outlook client under certain conditions. For example, if you have an Exchange email account, you can recall a message you sent to another user with an Exchange account on your network; however, you cannot recall a Gmail or a similar service message that you sent from your Outlook client. The recipient must also be logged in to the system, and the message must be unread and unmoved from his Inbox folder.

1 Recall or Replace

Use the "Recall a Message" feature to retract an email sent from your Outlook 2010 or 2013 client. When you recall a message, you can either delete the message or replace it with a new one. You can also configure a setting in the "Recall a Message" dialog box to receive a notification about the success or failure of the message recall for each recipient.

2 Recall a Message

To retract a message you sent to another user, open your "Sent" mail folder in Outlook, open the message, click the “Actions” option in the top ribbon, and then click the “Recall This Message” option. At this point, you can delete the original message or replace it with a new one. To delete the message only, click the radio button next to “Delete Unread Copies of This Message,” and then click “OK.” To replace the message with a new one, click the “Delete Unread Copies and Replace with a New Message” option, then create or select the replacement message.

3 Considerations

When you open the Recall This Message dialog box, a warning message displays, indicating possible issues with recalling the message. For example, if you sent the message to multiple recipients, the warning displays that “Some recipients may have already read this message.” Check the “Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient” check box in the Recall This Message dialog box to receive a notification for each recipient’s message.

4 When Will Recall Fail?

The Recall feature will fail if the recipient of the message does not use Outlook, is not logged in to the email server, has configured his Outlook client to use Cached Exchange Mode or is currently working offline. If the recipient has configured a rule to move incoming messages to another folder, or he has moved the message manually, the recall will fail as well. Finally, you will be unable to recall the message if the recipient has already opened it and it is marked as “Read.”

Based in the live music capital of the world, Tammy Columbo continues to work in the information technology industry as she has done for more than 10 years. While living in Austin, Columbo has contributed to high profile projects for the State of Texas, Fortune 500 technology companies and various non-profit organizations. Columbo began writing professionally in 2009.