Recalling Outlook Messages – Is It Too Late Once You’ve Hit “Send”?

 Originally published on August 10, 2018 by Sascha Neumeier
Last updated on March 03, 2022 • 6 minute read

Did you ever send a Microsoft Outlook message or meeting invitation to the wrong person(s)? I'll show you today what options you have to get your head out of the noose. 😉

Last week it was my famous colleague Shaun's birthday. As it should be for great colleagues, we combined our contributions and got some great gifts for him. Now it was a question of finding a common date for a serenade at his workplace and the handover of the presents.

The complete organization of the gifts, the greeting card and the scheduling was taken over by another colleague (no names!). Everything necessary was professionally obtained and the card was secretly passed around behind Shaun's back so that all colleagues could sign it.

And then: With the meeting invitation the whole situation got fubar! The colleague (whose name we will still not mention here 😉) sent an Outlook invitation to all involved colleagues as well as the birthday boy. Including all the details of the appointment AND a list of the birthday presents. *yeah

Do you know that feeling when just tenths of a second after clicking on "Send", all vital functions suddenly stop briefly? What now? How can I undo this? Ctrl+Z? Naked panic!

Basically, Outlook offers a possibility here; however, some prerequisites must be fulfilled. Spoiler alert: We did not manage to cover up the meeting invitation quickly enough - but we have learned a lot and want to share it with you.

Recall Messages – When Does It Work?

For a message to be recalled in Outlook, the following prerequisites must be fulfilled:

  • The recipient uses Outlook, and Outlook is running.
  • The recipient's mailbox must be open for the recall to succeed.
  • The message must still be unread and in the recipient's Inbox.

The possibilities of when a message recall will not work are much more varied. Microsoft Support has summarized this clearly and in detail: Causes why the message recall feature in Outlook fails

And What about Appointments?

Here you can help yourself by simply cancelling the meeting. In order for your plan to be successful, the unwanted recipient must not have seen the meeting and must not have read the meeting details. In this case, cancel the appointment, and don't forget to delete any information in the meeting details. When you cancel the event, the scheduled meeting is removed from the recipients’ calendars. All attachments and notes for the event are also deleted.

Alternatively, you can call back meetings - just as you can with messages. However, the button "Recall This Message..." is missing for meetings in Outlook. You must add this command once in the Quick Access Toolbar. Note, this only works for meeting requests that have already been sent! So, just go to an already sent appointment (not to a new meeting request) and choose "Customize the Ribbon". In the "Commands not in the Ribbon" section, search for the function "Recall This Message..." and add it to the toolbar.



Ideally, you should read this article before such an accident happens and be well prepared in case of an emergency. But with a higher probability you will feel like our nameless colleague, who only researched solutions after it was already too late. 😉

Your Most Embarrassing E-mail Moment?

Cross my heart, this has happened to all of us before. An ambiguous mail to a colleague suddenly goes to the whole department, a received email accidentally sent with an obscene comment to the sender instead of being forwarded to a colleague, and so on. What was your most embarrassing email moment? Write us in the comments!