How To Recall An Email In Outlook

This article explains about the improved email recalling feature which works with Outlook connected to an Exchange Online mailbox.

Recalling an email sent using Outlook comes in handy when you have sent some sensitive information to the wrong recipient and have that ‘Oh My God’ moment! Recalling the email before the recipient gets a chance to read it will delete the email fully from their mailbox. Let’s have a look at how to recall an email in Outlook with an M365 mailbox.

Requirements for email recall to work

Microsoft has improved the email recall functionality in Outlook, but it is good to note that it is not a full proof solution. There are some scenarios / conditions to be met for this to work.

  1. Both the sender and recipient should be in the same organization.
  2. This feature only works if your organization hosts both mailboxes in Exchange Online.
  3. This does not work with mailboxes on Exchange on-premise.
  4. You cannot recall an email using Outlook Web App or your mobile currently.
  5. Ability to recall messages must be enabled in Exchange Online by your IT team (it is enabled by default).
  6. You cannot recall an email if the recipient is in another organization, even though they use Exchange Online (for legal & privacy reasons).
  7. You can recall emails sent only by using Outlook currently (no other email clients).

Improvements in email recall in Outlook

Microsoft has made improvements to the recall feature and below are some points of interest.

  1. Recipients no longer need Outlook to be open for recall to work, as the recall happens within the cloud mailbox & not on the client.
  2. Recall works for emails in any folder or sub-folder (not just the inbox).
  3. You can recall emails that have been read, even though it defeats the point.
  4. You can recall emails sent to a large distribution list, there is no theoritical limit on the maximum number of recipients this will work on.
  5. Recall of an email sent from a shared mailbox will work.
  6. Recall of an email sent as a delegate will work, same as the shared mailbox scenario.

How To Recall An Email In Outlook

Let’s delve into the actual steps to recall an email using Outlook.

Once you have that OMG moment, navigate to the ‘Sent Items’ folder within your Outlook.

Double click the email you want to recall. Having the email selected with the reading pane on the right hand side won’t enable the recall options.

Go to File menu and choose Info -> Resend or Recall -> Recall This Message.

A small window opens up once you click on the ‘recall this message’ option. It will give you the option to delete the unread email and also to let you know whether the recall was successful or not. Once both options are selected, click the ‘ok’ button.

Once you hit the ok button, the opened email (which you wanted to recall) will update the status to say that you have tried to recall this message.

Within a minute, you will have an email which contains the email recall report link.

Click on the link to view the report. You may have to login to your mailbox in the browser for the report to be displayed.

The above report shows that the email has been successfully recalled from the recipient’s mailbox. This means that the email has been deleted fully. It won’t be visible in the ‘Deleted Items’ folder of the recipient either.

If the recipient mailbox is under Litigation or Mailbox Hold, the recalled email will appear in an eDiscovery performed by the administrator.

Administrator Tasks

As an administrator, you can disable email recalling altogether in Exchange Online by running the command Set-OrganizationConfig -MessageRecallEnabled $False.

You can disable read message being recalled completely by running Set-OrganizationConfig -RecallReadMessageEnabled $False.

This setting can be changed in the Exchange admin centre as well. Navigate to ‘Settings’ on the left hand pane and select ‘Mail Flow’.

Use the check box on the last option to change the setting.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section.

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