If I Could Turn Back Time: A Guide to Un-Sending Email In A Hurry

Turning Back TimeIt happens to us all. We write an email message and either inadvertently click SEND before the content was complete, or we intentionally hit SEND but quickly realize that the wrong recipient(s) was chosen. Our natural instinct is to retreat into panic mode (like I used to). But with a gentle exhale, and a little familiarity, anyone can bypass the anxiety and practically turn back time.

Just Undo It!

Turns out, some major email services feature their own built-in function to “abort mission” in the nick of time, halting delivery of your message and giving you a second chance. Researching the steps you’ll need to take for your particular service and remembering to practice them on a regular basis can save you the time expenditure, embarrassment, controversy, or even more severe consequences that email blunders can render. Out of sheer regard for my technologically-challenged comrades, I have conducted the investigation, and have laid out for you a quick UN-SEND guide to the participating email service providers. Study the one that applies to you, and become the master of your domain.

On Microsoft Outlook

MS Office likes to refer to the function as “Message Recall”. To make your move, quickly head to the Navigation Pane.MS Outlook Logo Pic From there:

1. Click Sent Items

2. Choose the message you’d like to un-send

3. On the Message tab, go to the Move group

4. Click on Actions

5. Choose Recall This Message

6. Click Delete Unread Copies of This Message

Additionally, there is an option to recall and replace a message, which can save you the rewrite time. Details can be found on Microsoft’s troubleshooting page.

On Gmail

Gmail Logo PicGoogle asks you to change a setting to enable the un-send process. To accomplish this:

1. Click on the gear wheel

2. Select Settings

3. Find the Labs tab

4. Under Undo Send, be sure Enable is selected

Now, your system is ready for emergency un-sending. When an email goof finally occurs:

1. Quickly click Cancel

2. Then press the “Z” key

3. Make your corrections and resend

FYI: You can adjust the amount of panic time within which you may cancel a Gmail message:

1. Go back to the gear wheel and choose Settings

2. Open General

3. Select the desired number of seconds

Pretty Cool!

On AOL and Yahoo!

Unfortunately, neither America Online (AOL) nor Yahoo offer the opportunity to stop that pesky message in its Hand on Mousetracks. AOL once featured the option, but has since removed it. This brings to mind my favorite waterproof alternative to depending on the un-send safety net: When composing email, never select your recipient until you’ve completed and proofread your message. Consider using draft mode in all instances. If your message is a reply, zap the recipient’s address out of its field until you’re ready. Then, check your CC’s and attachments, and fire away!

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