If you’ve accidentally hit the send button in Outlook, only to immediately realise that you’ve made a colossal mistake, the situation may not be quite as dire as you think.

Outlook has the ability to recall emails so that no-one need know that your ill-judged or erroneous missive was ever delivered to their inbox.

Unfortunately, this ability is very limited. 

The conditions for recalling an email are very specific, so this isn’t necessarily the magic bullet that you may have hoped.

It only works with emails sent from a Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365 account, with the recipient also using either of those services.

Annoyingly, it’s only available on the desktop version of Outlook, not the web-based one and the email must be unread and in the recipient’s inbox, not some filtered or public folder.

So, if you send an email to someone using Gmail, then you can’t get it back. The same is true if someone has already opened it or has their email app set to automatically filter incoming emails into subfolders.

If you're lucky and your message meets these criteria, then here’s how to stop the person in question being able to read it.

Where is the recall email setting in Outlook?

Retrieving your email is quite simple, although the option is hard to find.  First, in the Outlook app, go to your Sent Items tab and double click on the message you want to recall so that it opens in its own window. In the top right corner, you should see a down arrow to the right of the three dots icon, which you’ll need to select. Older versions of Outlook won’t have this option, so just skip to the next step.

This opens up a bigger toolbar with more options, one of which is the Move section. Click this and you’ll see the Actions icon appear. Select that and you’ll see two commands: Recall This Message and Resend This Message.

How to recall an email in Outlook: Recalling the message

Choosing Recall this message opens a dialog box that gives you the option to either delete the message from the recipient’s inbox or for you to send a message that will replace it.

How to recall an email in Outlook: Choosing between the options

Choose the one you want, click OK, and hopefully you’ll be able to avoid embarrassment or worse.

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