HomeTechnologyNewsHow to recover an email in Microsoft Outlook

How to recover an email in Microsoft Outlook

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“Oh no, I shouldn’t have sent that email.” This has happened to all of us at least once. The good news is that you can unsend or retrieve an email in Microsoft Outlook. To help you avoid this scenario in the future, we’ll explain how to unsend an email and how to delay emails so you can review them.

Use Undo Send in Outlook for the web

You can unsend an email in Outlook for the web with one click. You will have up to 10 seconds to do so. First, you’ll want to make sure the feature is set up correctly.

RELATED: You can undo send in Outlook, just like Gmail

First, click the Settings icon (the gear) and scroll to the bottom of the resulting sidebar. Then choose “See all Outlook settings”.

See all Outlook settings in the sidebar

When the Settings window opens, select “Mail” on the far left, then “Compose & Reply” on the right.

On the far right, scroll down to the Undo Send section. You will see a brief explanation of the function with a slider to adjust the number of seconds up to 10.

Undo shipping settings for time period

Once you set the Undo Send time, be sure to click “Save” at the bottom.

Unsend your email

The next time you send an email in Outlook for the web, you’ll see a short message appear at the bottom.

Click “Undo” to prevent your email from reaching its recipient within the time period you set above.

Undo message after sending email

You will then see the email as a draft, just like when you initially created it. From there, you can edit or delete it based on your preferences.

Draft email in Outlook for the web

Recover an email in Outlook for desktop

Although similar, the Outlook desktop app offers a recovery feature instead of an Undo Send option.

The difference is that the email is still delivered to the recipient; however, you can retrieve it if your recipient hasn’t opened the email yet.

RELATED: How to recover an email in Gmail

There is no time frame involved for you to remember the message. But the longer you wait, the better chance your recipient will open the email.

Note: You can retrieve an email after you press Send only if both you and your recipient have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account in the same organization.

Go to the Sent folder of the email account, if you have more than one. Select the message to open it in its own window and go to the Message tab.

In the Move section of the ribbon, click the drop-down arrow for More Move Actions. Choose “Retrieve this message”.

Retrieve this message in the More Motion Actions menu

In the Retrieve this message pop-up window, check an option to delete unread copies of the email or delete unread copies and replace them with a new message.

Optionally, check the box below if you want to be notified of recovery success or failure. Click OK.”

Retrieve options in Outlook

If you choose the option to replace the email, a new compose window opens. You will see your original message that you can edit.

Select “Send” when you finish editing the email.

Email replacement for a remembered message

Note: Your recipient may receive an email in which you would like to retrieve the message.

Create a rule to delay sending emails

To prevent accidentally sending an email or sending an email so quickly that you forget an attachment or recipient, you can create a rule in the Outlook desktop client.

RELATED: How to schedule or delay the sending of email messages in Outlook

This rule delays the sending of emails for the number of minutes that you specify. Emails remain in your Outbox, where you can review them before sending.

Go to the File tab and choose “Information” on the left. Select your email account at the top if you have more than one. Then click “Manage Rules and Alerts”.

Manage rules and alerts in the Info section of Outlook

In the Rules and Alerts box, confirm that you are on the Email Rules tab and that the correct email address is displayed. Then select “New Rule” at the top left.

New rule in the Rules and alerts box

When the Rules Wizard opens, select “Apply rule on messages I send” located in the Start from a blank rule section. Click Next.”

Apply to messages I send option for a rule

You can then select specific conditions for your rule if you wish.

For example, you might want the rule to apply only to messages marked as important or to messages with certain words in the subject line.

If you don’t choose any conditions, just select “Next”. You’ll then see an alert confirming that you want your rule to apply to every email you send.

Click “Yes” to confirm and continue.

Conditional and unconditional confirmation message

On the next screen, check the box at the bottom to Defer delivery for a number of minutes.

Then click the “a number of” link in the Step 2 box at the bottom.

In the next pop-up window, enter the number of minutes you want to use and click “OK”. Then select “Next.”

Delay action and set minute box

If you wish to apply any exceptions to your rule, please check those boxes below. Then click “Next” one more time.

Exceptions for an Outlook rule

On the final screen, give your rule a name. Check the box to Enable this rule and optionally the box to Create this rule on all accounts.

Review the rule description at the bottom. If you need to make a change, click “Back”. Otherwise, select “Finish” to create your rule.

Name and turn on rule settings in Outlook

When you return to the Rules & Alerts window, you’ll see your new rule listed. Select “Apply” and then “OK” to close the window and return to your inbox.

apply the rule

To review emails waiting to be sent, go to the Outbox folder of your email account. You then have time to edit or delete an email before it goes to its intended recipient.

Outbox showing messages waiting to send

When you send a message that is missing an attachment or contains details that it shouldn’t, you have ways to unsend or retrieve the email. But to make sure this doesn’t happen again, consider setting the delayed delivery rule for the Outlook emails you send.


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