Delete Sent Mail with MS Outlook

Have you ever sent an email message to the wrong person at the wrong time and wished you could get it back? It’s usually impossible to “recall” sent email. However, it is possible to delete mail from the recipient’s inbox if:

  • the recipient has not yet moved or read the email
  • you and the recipient use Microsoft Outlook, and
  • you use Microsoft Exchange Server as your email server.

Of course, the real lesson here is, “Double check your emails before hitting the send button.” But if all these elements are in place, follow these instructions.

To delete a sent message, first go to the Outlook Bar. Choose “Mail,” then click on “Sent Items.”

Highlight the message that you want to recall. Then, in the Tools Menu, select “Delete Unread Copies of this Message.”

If you want to send a new message in the old one’s place, you can do so at this point. A box will pop up that says “Delete Unread Copies and Replace with a New Message.” OK this action and type your new message.

You can take the same actions in earlier versions of MS Outlook, such as Outlook 98, to prevent messages from being read.

You can click on the “Tell Me” button to see if the recall for your message has succeeded. This note will let you know if you have successfully deleted or replaced the recipient’s email. The log of each recall attempt will be jotted down on the Message Tracking page for the sent message.

Email recall is a limited tool because MS Outlook is the only major program that has this feature. Remember, if your recipient isn’t using Outlook, you can’t delete the message.

If you would like an alternative to recalling an email, read this previous ibizTip by Diane Stresing on a free download named Disappearing Email.

Disappearing Email allows you to set a time limit on the life of an email message. When the time period is up, the email “shreds” itself into unreadable code.

Users have reported some problems with the Disappearing Email software. In one case, Outlook 2000 took a long time to load with the add-on product. For others, the Disappearing Email software has crashed the Outlook 2000 program.

Both the Recall Email function and Disappearing Email are currently available only for MS Outlook.