I’m a consultant, and on my very first project my main customer contact and my manager had the same name. One day, that handy email auto-fill put the wrong “Joe” on my email recipient list and off the email went. I’m sure you can guess that the email was meant for my manager “Joe”, but ended up going to our customer “Joe”. Fortunately for me, it was a totally innocuous email but that incident scared the daylights out of me. What if I’d accidentally sent something that was meant for an internal audience?
Almost every day, there are simpler reasons you might want to have an email back. You could have spotted a typo right as you hit “Send” or maybe you forgot the attachment.
To avoid potentially disastrous email snafus, it’s always a good idea to enable an outbox delay or the “Undo Send” function if your provider offers it. Here’s how to do it in Microsoft Outlook Desktop (Office 2016), Microsoft Office 365 and Gmail.
Microsoft Outloook Desktop (Office 2016)
In the Outlook desktop application, you have to go through some slightly complicated steps to set up your outbox delay. Rest assured, it’s completely worth it. This delay has saved my butt at least monthly since I started using it.
Step 1: In the Home tab, click the drop-down arrow under “Rules”. Then select “Manage Rules & Alerts”.
Step 2: Click “New Rule”.
Step 3: In the Step 1: Select a Template box, click “Apply Rule on messages I send” and click “Next”.
Step 4: On the next screen, just hit “Next”. Select “OK” when it tells you that this will apply to all messages you send.
Step 5: In the Step 1: Select action(s) box, click “defer delivery by a number of minutes”.
Step 6: In the Step 2: Edit the rule description, click on the a number of link and choose the number of minutes to delay (I do a 2 minute delay). Hit “Next”.
Step 7: In the Step 1: Select exception(s) box, click “except if it is marked as importance“.
Step 8: In the Step 2: Edit the rule description box, click on the importance link and choose “high importance”. Then hit “Next”. This will allow you to override the outbox delay if you really want to, by marking an email as “High importance.”
Step 9: Name the rule and hit “Finish”.
After you set up the delay, test the rule by composing an email. The email should sit in your outbox for the number of minutes you chose to delay. Then it will be sent and appear in the Sent folder. Make sure that marking an email “High Importance” overrides the delay and sends it immediately.
Microsoft Office 365 Outlook App
The Microsoft Office 365 Outlook App has built-in functionality to Undo sent mail up to 30 seconds after sending it. It only takes 5 steps and about 30 seconds to turn on the “Undo Send” functionality.
Step 1: Click on the gear Icon on the top righthand corner of the screen to open the settings.
Step 2: Search for “rules”.
Step 3: Click on “Inbox Rules” in the search results.
Step 4: On the lefthand side of the screen, click “Undo Send”. Then turn on “Let me cancel” and select 30s in the drop-down
Step 5: Save changes
When you’ve turned on the “Undo Send” functionality, you will see a blue X above the email composition area after you hit “Send.” Next to the X, it says “Cancel Send.” There will be a timer running down. Click on the X and the email will pop up in edit mode in a separate window.
Gmail also has a built-in “Undo Send” option, and turning it on is a matter of just a few clicks.
Step 1: Click on the gear icon in the top righthand corner of the screen to open the settings.
Step 2: In the settings screen, check “Enable Undo Send” and select 30s from the dropdown.
Step 3: Scroll to the bottom of the settings and save changes.
After setting up the rule, run a test to make sure that the functionality works. When you send an email, there’s a yellow box that appears at the top of the screen indicating that the email was sent. Once you turn on the “Undo Send” functionality, there will be a link in the same yellow box that says “Undo.” This is your chance to undo the send. When you do this, the email should pop back up in composition mode.
Save your Email Today
If you send a lot of email, don’t put off setting up the unsend email feature! This hack will truly save you from embarrassment or worse more often than you could guess.