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Can You Really Recall an Errant Email Message?

Oh, no! You sent an email to your entire company with personal information — now what? Here’s how to pull back that email and protect your reputation. 

Nearly everyone has done it before: accidentally sent an email to the whole company that should have gone to a single individual. Or quickly typed in a name in your email program only to find out later that your Outlook or Gmail autocorrected to the wrong person. We are all in a rush these days, making it all too easy to make a mistake that can cost you a relationship if the wrong person reads your email. You may have seen a way to recall email messages in Outlook or Gmail, but does this really work?

Recalling Those Errant Messages

While it would be great to think that you could simply click a button and pull your errant email back from the brink of disaster, it doesn’t always work like that. If you are on an Exchange server and sent the email only to individuals within your business email domain, quickly opening the email and recalling the message may be a lifesaver. Unfortunately, if your email went somewhere other than within your organization it may simply be too late. Using these instructions from Microsoft, you can recall a message in Outlook or replace it with a different message. If you’re using Gmail or Google’s G-Suite, you’ll find instructions for an “unsend” here.

What Happens When You Recall an Email?

When you attempt to recall or unsend an email, your email server goes into the inbox of each user on your server who was a recipient and replaces their original email with a message that the email has been recalled and when it was recalled. If some of your recipients are on a different email server, there’s generally no action taken and the email will remain in their inbox undisturbed (ouch!). You can also choose to receive a notification about whether or not each email has been deleted at the user level or whether the recall failed. Message recalls fail if someone has already read the email message, too. With today’s always-on business professionals, you may only have a few moments to recall a message that went awry before your recipients start reading — or worse, forwarding — the message that you accidentally sent.

Have a serious accident and send something that absolutely cannot stay in someone’s inbox? Your best option for removing an email is to work with your IT department or managed services provider to see if you can remove the email from your server. Contact the professionals at Colorado Computer Support today at 719-204-8863 or visit us online and fill out our quick form to learn more.

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