How Can I Recall an Email?
If you’ve just sent some sensitive information to the wrong email address,
generally speaking, there is not a consistently reliable method of recalling and ensuring an email has not been read.
Because of this, we recommend instead to that you immediately contact the accidental recipient and explain the situation and request they delete the email without opening if possible, and let you know once done (by email ideally for future auditing purposes). Contacting and explaining the situation provides a much more professional experience and outcome compared to an attempted message recall.
Often recalling results in them receiving potentially cryptic looking “deletion requests”, which they may or may not even see depending on their email software and settings. Most modern software will prompt you to delete an email if it gets a compatible recall request, but it’s likely most will choose not to delete a new email without a suitable explanation, even when prompted. Meaning no real confirmation of if the email was deleted or not.
Some may remember that outlook used to have a Email Recall option, and while it is there it doesn’t work as well as one might expect. Both the sender and the receiver need to be using Microsoft 365 for email and you need to be using the desktop version of outlook and on top of that, if the receiver has information protection policies it will also fail. See more info here: Recall or replace an email message that you sent – Office Support (microsoft.com)
If you send lots of sensitive emails of have accidentally sent the wrong email there are a few tips you can try:
- Only add the To Address of and email right before you send it. This makes accidentally sending incomplete emails impossible.
- Keep your autocomplete list clear of confusing listings and make sure to use full names in any address book listings.
- Move internal conversations into chat (Teams / Slack) and keep email for important external communications only.
- Make it a habit to check the address field before clicking send on every email.