By Jill Duffy.
Gmail makes it easy to stop an email from being delivered even after you hit Send. Outlook has similar options, but they’re confusing. Here’s how to set up this lifesaver in Microsoft’s email client.
Sometimes, the best way to be productive in email is not to send a message at all, especially if its content is incorrect or ill-considered. After testing its Undo Send button among an opt-in group of Gmail users for years, Google has made this beloved feature available to all. Undo send is a failsafe that gives you up to 30 seconds to cancel sending an email. It’s just enough time to gasp, pull your foot out of your mouth, and make sure that message never sees the light of day. Not everyone realizes that Microsoft Outlook also has a number of settings and options to recall a message, delay sending a message, and so forth—perhaps because they are not easy to find or understand. There is an option that’s similar to the Gmail Undo Send button, but it’s not intuitive to find or use. Here’s how it works and how to set it up.
How Undo Send Works
To understand how undo send works in Outlook, it helps to first understand how it works in Gmail. To get the Undo Send button in Gmail, you must enable the feature and select an amount of time you’d like to give yourself to be able to stop a message from sending. The maximum amount of time is 30 seconds, and it’s the option I recommend.
Microsoft, in its typical lack of punchiness, offers the same thing in Outlook, except it’s a two-step process and requires more labor to set up.
How to Set Up Undo Send in Outlook
As I said, setting up the equivalent of Gmail’s Undo Send button in Outlook is a two-step process. First, you have to create a rule that delays all messages from being sent. I’ll summarize the instructions here:
- Go to File > Manage Rules & Alerts > New Rule.
- Here, look under Start from a Blank Rule. Choose “Apply rule on messages I send.” Do not add any other rules (i.e., leave the checkboxes blank).
- Under the list of actions, choose “defer delivery by a number of minutes.” You can delay delivery by up to 120 minutes, but that’s too long. I recommend 1 minute, so enter “1″ (or however many minutes you want) where it says “a number of.”
- Follow the prompts to save and name the rule, and be sure to select the checkbox for “Turn this rule on” before you exit.
The next step is the one you take when you accidentally hit Send on a message and want to stop it before it actually goes.
Your message will be in your outbox. That’s where it hangs out during the one-minute delay.
The quickest way to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere is to hit the Work Offline button (under the Send/Receive tab). Now you can either drag the message into your drafts folder to edit it some more, or right-click on the message and delete it.
Who Can Use Undo Send?
Unfortunately, Outlook’s Undo Send feature is not available to everyone. The Outlook Mac app simply doesn’t have it. It is available in Outlook for Windows 2016, 2013, and 2010, though.
I mentioned previously that Outlook has other options for “recalling” messages. Why not just use that instead of the delay and delete method? There are a few very good answers.
First, not all Outlook users have recall features available to them. With Microsoft Exchange accounts, the administrator has to make the options available. Many organizations choose to omit it, and in their defense, it is a pretty confusing feature. Second, you can only recall messages sent to other people in your organization, so it doesn’t work across the board, anyhow. Third, if the recipients have already opened the message, you’re out of luck. Fourth, recipients can enable their own feature that essentially disables a recall from taking place.
Hopefully that confusing business of recalled messages is enough to persuade you to instead enable the delay message feature and use it to your advantage. It’s the better option, and it could save you a lot of grief!