You know the feeling. As soon as you've sent a message or an email, you are immediately sure you said the wrong thing.
You're not alone. Email is an exceptional addition to the administrative arsenal, but there are downsides to instantaneous communication, too. Luckily, email providers like Google and Outlook have features that let you get an email back that didn't mean to send or instantly regretted. Let's take a look at Outlook's version, known as recall.
First off, let's be clear. Recalling an email won't always work. In fact, there are just a few strict circumstances when email recall will actually work.
For one thing, the recipient of your email needs to be using Outlook too. If they're using another service or reading their emails on their smartphone, it won't work.
Additionally, both parties need to be using an Exchange account and be in the same organization. Otherwise, recall simply won't work. With such a wide variety of email providers available these days and the vast offerings of major ones, like Gmail, it's becoming more and more likely your recipient isn't on the same platform.
The actual process of recalling an email in Outlook is pretty simple. Except that it doesn't always work, it's technically as simple as clicking a button.
You'll only see the option to recall the message if you have an Exchange account.
After you've done these steps, you'll see the recall window, which allows you to choose between deleting the original copy of the email or replacing it with the right one.
There are ways to circumvent the recall process if you really must. For example, you can set up a delay on your emails which prevents them from being sent immediately. This gives you time to change your mind and delete them from the outbox.
Although delaying is a good backup option, because you have to set it up ahead of time, it might not be in place when you unexpectedly send that regretted message. Enter: recall
Because delaying a message in Outlook will give you a better chance of avoiding mishaps, it might be worth looking into this. If you set up a delay or schedule the email, you'll be able to edit it before it sends but after that post-send panic hits.
Once you've sent the email, it will stay in the outbox until it's scheduled to be sent.
If you are able to recall your email in Outlook, you'll receive an email notification that it's been successfully pulled back. The original email you sent to the recipient will be replaced with the new one.
Additionally, the recipient shouldn't be able to tell that you've used recall. However, in some situations, the recipient is notified that an email was recalled. While this could spark curiosity, you can always simply tell them there was an error in the original. Chances are they've been in your exact position.
There's also a way to delay every outgoing message from that moment forth.
From this email forward, all of your emails will be delayed by anything up to 120 minutes.
In addition to Outlook, several other web-based email services offer recall. However, the chances of recalling with Outlook are greater than any.
Gmail offers the brief option to recall your email, and also has a delay option. To wrap up, we'll take a look at how to use them.
Recall in Gmail isn't an official action—it's more of a workaround.
You might have noticed that after you delete an email from your inbox, you get a pop-up in the bottom corner of your screen asking if you'd like to undo the delete. This popup also appears after you've sent an email. So, if you get that instant stomach-clenching just as you hit "send," you can quickly undo the action and get your email draft back in your hands. No harm, no foul.
But, you need to be quick about this. So, let's talk about delaying sends in Gmail.
Like in Outlook, if you're forward-thinking enough to realize you'll probably need to recall a message at some point in the future, it's easy to set up a delayed send option on Gmail. Technically, it's just a matter of prolonging the undo pop-up
This option isn't quite as good as recall because Gmail doesn't have an outbox. After you send your message, you'll return to the inbox screen and the Undo option will appear, but if you click anywhere else, the option will disappear—even if your 30 seconds isn't up yet. Once that happens, you're out of luck.
As helpful as email recall might be, you really can't rely on it. There are third-party services out there that can stop emails from being sent to the wrong people, however. Using machine learning and data analysis, these services use previous send patterns to identify an email that would otherwise be sent to recall. Three of the best are NeoCertified, Egress, and Paubox.
Some providers also have handy pop-ups. For instance, if your Gmail message says "attachment" and your email has no attachment, Gmail may ask you if something is missing when you try to click send.
Barring these options, it can help to get into the habit of never sending your emails right away. They almost all save into a Drafts folder these days without any action on your end, so if you start making yourself re-read, check your phone, or go for lunch before you ever hit send, that jolting post-delivery dread could show up before you've clicked that fatal Send button.