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Recalling Emails from Outlook 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003

Alexander Zammit

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Alexander Zammit has been developing server applications for over 15 years. Most of his works involve Exchange integrated applications, including a FAX server, a mail security product and anti-spam products.

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We all do mistakes, and when we do a bad one it is good to be able to make things right. Today we talk of email blunders, those that make us want to take the message back. Just for this purpose Outlook provides the Recall Message feature.

Updated 4th February 2013 to include Outlook 2013

In Exchange recalling a message involves sending a recall request that is supposed to cause the original email to be deleted. There are a number of conditions that have to be satisfied for the recall to be fulfilled successfully. However I will discuss these conditions in another article.

Message recalling is a topic I learned about while working on the development of a new product named WinDeveloper Message Recall. A product that is meant to greatly improve the success rate of recalled messages. However this is not what we will discuss today either.

Today's article is a simple walkthrough showing you how to recall messages from various Outlook versions. As we shall see the feature moved around from the Actions menu to the Ribbon interface, but nothing changed in terms of functionality.

Recalling Emails from Outlook 2013 and 2010

Assuming we sent an email that we want to take back, here are the steps to follow in Outlook 2013 and 2010:

  1. Fetch the email from the Sent Items folder.

  2. Open the email and at the Ribbon click on File.

    This is what it looks like in Outlook 2013:

    Outlook 2013 Recall Message

    This is what it looks like in Outlook 2010:

    Outlook 2010 Recall Message

  3. From the Info category we select:
    Resend or Recall | Recall This Message...

  4. This opens the Recall Options dialog:

Recall Options

  1. Here we choose between deleting unread copies of the original message, or to both delete and replace the message. If we choose the latter, the original email opens up for us to edit and resubmit.

  2. Lastly the checkbox at the bottom allows us to choose whether we want to receive notifications on the outcome of this recall attempt.

  3. Clicking Ok at the Recall Options dialog, the recall request is submitted hoping not to be too late.

Sometime later, if notifications were requested, we might receive a number of success/failure notification emails. Whether we actually do receive notifications depends on a number of factors which we won't get into for today.

Here is what a success notification looks like:

Recall Success Notification

Here is a failure notification:

Recall Failed Notification

Ok many of you have already seen these. What some of you might not be aware of is the tracking information that gets added to the original email at the Sent Items folder. Tracking records all the notification results received for the email (up to one notification for each recipient).

To see this, open the original email from the Sent Items folder. From the Ribbon select Message | Show | Tracking:

Recall Tracking

Outlook 2013 Tracking

Recalling Emails from Outlook 2007

All the functionality shown in Outlook 2013 is also available from Outlook 2007. The only difference is in locating the Recall This Message command, this is available from the Ribbon under Message | Actions | Other Actions | Recall This Message.

Outlook 2007 Recall Message

Other than that, the Recall Options dialog, Notifications and Tracking look very similar to what we already saw.

Recalling Emails from Outlook 2003

Outlook 2003 also provides the same functionality. Things just look a little bit more squarish. Once we open the email from the Sent Items folder, a recall request is submitted from Actions | Recall This Message which again opens the same options dialog we saw before.

Outlook 2003 Recall Message

There is nothing significantly different in Notifications and Tracking either. Again tracking information will be added to the original email on receiving notifications. Here is what tracking looks like:

Outlook 2003 Tracking

Outlook 2003 Tracking

Final Tips

Message Recalling is one of those features that never changed over time. Things moved around because of the interface design but all the functionality remained the same. In a future article we will explore this functionality in more depth. Amongst other things we will see under which conditions recall requests are fulfilled successfully.

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