How to Recall an Email in Outlook 2016

Using email on a daily basis, it is likely that one day you’ll send an email you wish you hadn’t sent; one might say it is an inevitable aspect of email use.

Whether it was sending the email to the wrong recipient, attaching a wrong file, or accidentally hitting “Reply All” when the message was only meant for one colleague—we’ve all been there.

Luckily for Outlook users, you can recall or replace an email if certain conditions are met. This, however, works only via Outlook for Windows, not Outlook Web, and only if the recipient is of the same organization as you. Furthermore, the message can only be replaced in case it hasn’t been read already.


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Steps to Recall an Email in Outlook 2016

Recalling an email in Outlook 2016 allows you to retrieve and replace an email that has already been sent. Here are the steps to do it:

Step 1: Go to your Sent Items folder. You can access this in the folder pane on the left side of the Outlook window.

Step 2: Open the email that you wish to recall. Double-click on the message to open it in a separate window. Simply having the message on the reading pane won’t enable you to recall it.

Step 3:  Once you open the email, head to the Message tab and select Actions. A menu will drop-down and you will then have to select the Recall This Message option.

Step 4: Two options will appear, “Delete unread copies of this message” and “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message”. Select which option applies to your situation and then click OK.


Step 5: If you’re replacing a message, write the message and hit Send once you’re satisfied with it. When recalling a message, the sender will receive a notification. So you might want to replace it with a message explaining the mistake in case it was sent to the wrong recipient or replace it with the corrected mail.

It’s worth noting that recalling emails does not always work. If your attempt at recalling an email has failed, you will receive a notification from Outlook stating so. If this happens to be a familiar case for you, then you may want to look into taking precautions in the future.

How to Prevent Recalls

As the saying goes, prevention is always better than a cure. Here are a couple of things you can try to ensure you won’t have to recall emails in the future.


  • Get into the habit of reading through your messages and checking the details of your email before hitting the ‘Send’ button. A trick I personally do when I have to send an important email is to remove the recipient email address before constructing my message. Once I’m happy with what I’ve written—including the subject line—I then enter the email address and send the email.

And if all else fails, you will have no choice but to start composing your apology email explaining the mishap. Mistakes happen, and the best recourse (apart from preventing them) is to own up to them and learn from the experience. However, it gets tricky when you’ve sent an email containing sensitive data, such as corporate data or personal information, to the wrong recipient. Then, make sure to inform the appropriate team or member of the organization.

See you soon!

The Lookeen team

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