We’ve all heard email horror stories that make us cringe: the job applicant who hastily sends an email to confirm an important interview but forgets to spell check first; an angry worker who informs his employer that he is quitting his job before he stops to think about the consequences; the employee who inadvertently sends a personal email out to everyone in the office. The list goes on and on.
If you find yourself having nightmares involving email and disaster, there are two things you should know. First of all, Microsoft Outlook 2007 does contain a recall feature that allows you to retract a message after it has been sent. Unfortunately, this feature is far from perfect. It only works if the recipient is on the same Exchange Server as you, and even if you are able to rescind the message before the recipient opens it, there is still a slight chance that they will see part or all of the message before the recall is complete (especially if they have AutoPreview or the Reading Pane enabled).
Nevertheless, desperate times call for desperate measures. While the process is not foolproof, it is better than nothing.
Recall a Message
To recall a message:
- Go to the Sent Items folder and double-click to open the message that you wish to rescind.
- On the Ribbon, in the Actions group, click the Other Actions button. A menu appears.
- Click Recall This Message… A new dialog box will appear.
- Verify that the Delete unread copies of this message radio button is selected.
- Make sure that the Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient checkbox is selected. If the recipient does not officially open the email before you complete the recall, you will receive a message stating that the Message Recall was a Success. If the recipient opens the email before the recall process is complete, you will receive a message informing you that the Message Recall was a Failure. You must remember, however, that if the recipient is sitting at their computer with the AutoPreview or Reading Pane enabled, and they click once on the new email in their Inbox, it does not show up as being opened, yet the recipient may still be able to read all or part of the email. Under these circumstances, you will still receive a message from Outlook saying that the recall process was a success.
- Click the OK button at the bottom of the dialog box.
An email alert will appear in the bottom right corner of the recipient’s screen notifying them that a message is being recalled. If they are sitting at their computer at the time the alert appears, it may catch their attention and cause them to open the email. If so, your efforts have probably been wasted. In most cases, they will have plenty of time to open and read both email messages since both will remain in the recipient’s Inbox until the recall process is complete (usually several minutes).
If you are lucky, however, the recipient will not be sitting at their desk and the recall process will be quick and easy.
Replace a Message
If you want to delete an unread message and replace it with a new copy:
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 above.
- Select the Delete unread copies and replace with a new message radio button.
- Verify that the Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient checkbox is selected.
- Click OK at the bottom of the dialog box. A new editable copy of the sent message will appear on your screen.
- Edit the message and click the Send button.
Once again, an email alert will appear in the bottom right corner of the recipient’s screen notifying them that a message is being recalled. After several minutes, the first unwanted message will disappear and the new message will take its place. If the recipient does not open the first email before the process is complete, you will receive a message notifying you that the process was successful. The second message replaces the first and the recipient is none the wiser.
Since message recall is not foolproof, you may want to change the settings in your Outlook Exchange account so that messages will not be sent immediately. If messages are sent to the Outbox for a brief period of time, it gives the sender a chance to take one last look at a message before sending, or to cool down, or to reconsider. Most email clients are set up to send email messages as soon as you hit the Send button, but these settings can be altered in Outlook 2007.
To customize outgoing email settings:
- Click on Tools in the File menu.
- From the drop-down menu, click Rules and Alerts… The Rules and Alerts dialog box opens.
- Click on New Rule… The Rules Wizard appears.
- In the Start from a blank rule section, click Check messages after sending, and then click the Next button at the bottom of the dialog box.
- Click the Next button again on the Which conditions do you want to check screen. A new dialog box will appear, asking if you want this rule to be applied to every message you send.
- Click on the Yes button.
- On the next screen, at the bottom of the first section, click the defer delivery by a number of minutes checkbox.
- Click on the link that says a number of and type in an appropriate number of minutes.
- Click the OK button and then Next. The next screen will ask if there are any exceptions.
- Click Next.
- In the Finish rule setup screen, give the rule a descriptive name such as “delivery delay” and then click the Finish button.
Now when you send a message, it will sit in the Outbox for the specified amount of time. If you want to check a message one last time before it goes out, you can. You can also edit or delete the message before it is sent.