How to Un-Send an Email

Michele Warg
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As an administrative assistant, you probably handle lots of incoming and outgoing emails each day. Unless you've been very fortunate, there have likely been times when you've sent an email and immediately wished you could get it back. Here are a couple of email tips for getting back messages before they reach recipients.

It's important to understand that not all email programs will stop an email from being sent or recall it after you have hit the send button. There are no email tips for recalling email using Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail because that option has been disabled for those programs. However, two other email clients can be setup to stop delivery of your email mistakes if you react quickly enough: Gmail and Outlook. If you use these programs in your administrative assistant position, use the following email tips to enable the un-send email features they offer.

Gmail: Sign into your Gmail account, click on the gear icon, and select Settings. Go to the Labs folder and peruse the list of applications until you come to one labeled Undo Send. Click the radio button to enable this feature and then save the change.

Google has programmed the Undo Send app to give users a ten-second window to cancel an email. You can, however, increase the allotted time to up to 30 seconds by going to the General tab and adjusting the settings for the Undo Send app. When you want to stop an email from being sent, click the undo button that appears after you hit send to save the message as a draft instead. If you find yourself using this option a lot, you may want to read a few email tips on email etiquette.

Outlook: Microsoft's email program is a little more complex to set up but also offers more customization options than Gmail. Open Outlook, and select Rules and Alerts from the Tools menu. Go to the section labeled "Start from a blank rule" and select "Check messages after sending."

After clicking next to confirm your selection, you will be taken to a Select Actions page. Check the option to defer email deliver by number of minutes. Enter the number of minutes (up to 120) to delay messages and then click Next. The next screen is for creating exceptions to this rule. Once this rule is set, emails are sent to the outbox folder where they will sit until the allotted time has passed.

One of the more obscure email tips for using Outlook to manage emails is that the program will let you recall a message if the recipient hasn't read it. Open the email, and from the Message tab, select "Other Actions" from the drop down menu. Click on "Recall this Message" and then "Ok". The program will delete the message from the recipient's inbox.

Email mistakes are part of the job. Judicious use of these email tips with the associated program can help save you from making embarrassing blunders.


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  • Bruce Johns
    Bruce Johns
    Great  info, but I have a different problem. I found a job and I trying to stop receiving emailed job announcement. Meanwhile, I want to thank for helping me find a job.

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