How To Undo A Sent Email In Gmail and Outlook

How To Undo A Sent Email In Gmail and outlook

You clicked send. Oh crap.

When you send a no-take-backs email — maybe an admission to a secret crush, or accidental reply-all, or that confidential document — there's an instant pang of regret. It feels like there's no going back.

Meet Gmail's Undo Send feature, a lifesaving little hack buried in the Gmail Labs settings. It gives you a 30-second window to "undo" sending an outgoing email.

You just have to enable it first.

Here's how it works:

1. Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of your Gmail window and select Settings from the dropdown menu.

 

gmail undo send
Gmail Undo Send Screenshot

 

2. Select Labs from the row of tabs.

 

gmail sent send undo
Gmail Undo Send Screenshot

 

3. Scroll all the way to the bottom where you see Undo Send and click Enable.

gmail send sent undo
Gmail Undo Send Screenshot

4. Hit Save Changes at the bottom.

5. Breathe easy.

Now when you send an email, the yellow dialogue that displays "Your message has been sent" will also give you the option to Undo. Click it, and the email will reopen, un-sent, in the composition window.

gmail undo sent send
Gmail Undo Send Screenshot

It defaults so that you have 10 seconds to click before the Undo button disappears, but you can adjust that window of opportunity. Go to Settings > General > Undo Send, and select a cancellation period up to 30 seconds.

 

Note, features in Gmail Labs are experimental and may change, break, or disappear at any time. You've been warned.

 

What if you had your email sent from Outlook? Then you will appreciate the Outlook Exchange Server - "Message Recall"

Outlook Exchange Server - "Message Recall"

To "recall a message" that's already been sent:

  1. Open your "Sent Items" folder
  2. Open the email message you'd like to recall/forget/douse in kerosene and light on fire
  3. On the ribbon up top, go to the "Move" group
  4. Click on "Actions"
  5. Select "Recall This Message"
  6. Click "Delete unread copies of this message" (or "Replace...," which is also great)
Outlook Recall This Message
Outlook Recall This Message Screenshot

The best use of Outlook's "Message Recall" is right after you've sent the message since it will move the unopened email right into the recipient's Deleted folder.

One BIG note - a recall request doesn't always work! For instance, if the recipient already opened the message, it's going to stay put in their inbox (AND they'll be notified you tried to recall). See the full functionality and limitations of this feature on Office.com.

One MORE note - If you use a desktop Outlook application that is not on Exchange Server, you still will see this option, but it won't delete email from a third party's email inbox. Instead, your recipient may only receive a note that you attempted a recall:

outlook message recall attempt

 

So before you Hit the Send Button, think carefully.

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