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How to recall the nasty email you accidentally just sent your boss

  • It's easy to recall an email in Outlook or undo a sent message in Gmail
  • You just need to follow our simple guide below
Businessman mistakes
Tom Merton | Getty Images

It's late, you're tired and you accidentally just emailed an angry rant about your boss to her, instead of to the co-worker it was intended for.

D'oh!

It's probably too late to do anything about that email. But by making a few simple tweaks to Gmail or Outlook you can greatly reduce the chances of future email slip-ups ruining your life.

How to undo sent emails in Gmail

Gmail doesn't have a traditional "recall" function like Outlook. Instead, it has a function you can enable that allows you to "unsend" a message within a certain amount of time.

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  • You can turn it on by going to the cog icon in Gmail (on the top right), selecting "Settings" and then selecting the "General tab."
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  • Scroll down the page and check the "Enable Undo Send" option. You can choose a cancellation period of five, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.
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  • Now, whenever you send an email, you'll see a pop-up that asks if you want to unsend the message. Tap it and it'll never leave your outbox.

How to recall emails in Outlook

Things are a bit different in Outlook, where you'll need to recall a message instead of relying on a delay to cancel it entirely. There's no guarantee the message hasn't been opened, and sometimes it only works within your organization (depending on settings).

Still, it's worth a shot if you sent something pretty gnarly. Here's what to do:

  • Open the Sent folder
  • Double click the message you want to recall, then tap the Actions button in the top ribbon. Then select "Recall this message."
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  • You'll have two options, to delete unread copies of the email, or to delete unread copies and send a different message in replacement. There's also the option to receive a notice if the recall fails, just in case you want to worry yourself even further.
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That's all there is to it. It only takes a few seconds of your time, and you can save yourself from some real embarrassment.