Email Deletion vs Recall: Can You Delete an Email You Sent?

Yes, you can delete an email that you sent—a copy of the email from your “Sent” folder—but if you are talking about the email copy from the “Inbox” folder of the recipient, that is a bit tricky (possible with email recall feature, with limitations).

Email Deletion vs Recall: Can You Delete an Email You Sent?

Emails have become an essential mode of communication. They are widely used in both personal and professional settings. Given the litany of emails that we send and receive on a daily basis, email mistakes such as including incorrect information in the email and sending an email to the wrong person have become a common occurrence. While these mistakes may seem irreversible, you should know that email clients offer features like email deletion and recall options to correct such mistakes. 

In this article, we will explore the possibilities of deleting and recalling emails, the limitations and requirements involved, and the impact these actions could have on the recipient. By the end of this article, you will better understand how to delete or recall an email and the factors that affect the success of these actions.

Email Deletion vs. Recalling Email

While many think that deleting an email is the same as recalling an email, it is not. 

To understand the difference between the two actions, you have to first understand how email works.

When you send an email, one copy of the email is saved in your “Sent” folder, and the other copy is stored in the “Inbox” folder of the recipient. So, when you delete an email from your “Sent” folder, you are only deleting one copy of the email that was stored on your account without affecting the email copy that is stored in the email account of the recipient or any other backup system or mail server that is involved.

On the other hand, recalling an email is exactly what it is: undoing a sent mail—removing it from the recipient’s “Inbox” folder. But you should know that this is not a foolproof method and depends on several factors, such as whether the recipient has already read the email or not, whether the recipient’s email client supports the recall feature, and other technical aspects.

Read our detailed post on how to recall an email when you send it to the wrong person.

In general, it is strongly advised that you do not rely only on the email recall option and take other necessary measures depending on the nature of the email’s content. For instance, if you have sent a misdirected email containing sensitive information related to your company, you may want to take effective measures to deal with it (perhaps, your company has set a process in place for such instances). Similarly, if the email contained sensitive information that was covered under HIPAA, you may want to take effective measures to ensure HIPAA compliance.

frustrated young African American businesswoman looking on laptop screen

Can You Delete an Email You Sent?

Yes, you can delete an email that you sent—the copy of the email from your “Sent” folder—but as far as the email copy from the “Inbox” folder of the recipient is concerned, that is a bit tricky. It is certainly possible with the email recall feature, but with some limitations.

So, you can delete the email from your own mailbox (your sent folder). Below we discuss how to do it.

 How to Delete an Email on Gmail and Outlook?

The method of deleting an email on Gmail and Outlook is quite easy and similar. Here is how to go about it:

  1. Open your mail account (Gmail/Outlook) and go to the “Sent” folder.
  2. Now select the email that you want to delete.
  3. After having selected that particular email, click on the “Delete” button, which looks like a trash bin.
  4. Gmail conversation is moved to the bin, but in Outlook, it is moved to the recoverable items.

You should note that after deletion from the “Inbox” folder, the email still lives in the “Trash” or “Deleted Items” folder for 30 days in Gmail and Outlook, respectively. After thirty days, the email is permanently deleted.  

If you want to permanently delete the emails right away, you will have to go to the respective folder, i.e., “Trash” in Gmail and “Deleted Items” in Outlook, select the email and hit “Delete forever” in Gmail, and in Outlook select “Purge Selected Items.” At this point, emails will be permanently deleted, and you won’t be able to recover them unless your organization has a retention policy and has set up a back system in place.

Here again, you should keep in mind that you are only deleting your copy of the email from your own account, and a copy of the email will still be present in the recipient’s email account.

Does Deleting an Email Delete it from the Recipient?


Unfortunately, deleting an email from your account does not delete it from the recipient’s account. It only deletes your copy of the email and does not affect the recipient’s email copy that resides in their “inbox” folder.

If you want the recipient’s copy of the email to disappear, you will have to ask them to disregard and delete it or use a feature like an email recall, which works only if the recipient has not already opened the email. If you are a Canary Mail user, consider yourself lucky. Because it lets you revoke the recipient’s access to email.

How to Revoke a recipient’s access to a mail you sent using Canary Mail?

Touted as the smartest email client, Canary Mail has a solution for almost all email-related problems. Canary has got its users back when they want to delete an email that they have already sent. Here is how you can do that by using Canary Mail’s SecureSend feature:

  • The “revoke” feature only works if you turn on the “SecureSend” option before sending the email.
  • Open the email that you want to revoke.
  • Click on the setting icon in the top right corner.
  • Click on “Revoke.”
  • In place of the “Secure Email” in the top left corner, it will say “Revoked,” once the email is successfully revoked.
  • If you want to reauthorize access to email, you can easily do that by clicking on the “Re-Authorize” option.

How to Mass Delete Emails on Gmail?

We receive a crazy number of emails (primary, promotional, social, marketing, and spammy). Most of these emails are of no use to us and do nothing more than clutter our mailbox and take up space. So, you would want to get rid of such emails. Here is how to do that on Gmail with just a few clicks:

  1. Go to the Gmail inbox or the label from which you would like to delete the emails.
  2. Select all the emails in the label by checking the box in the top left corner.
  3. This will select only those emails that are displayed on the screen. If you have more emails, select the option that appears at the top, allowing you to select all emails in that folder.
  4. After selecting all the emails, click on the delete option (it looks like a trash can).
  5. A pop-up will appear on your screen, asking you to “Confirm bulk action.” Hit the “OK” button.

As mentioned previously, all these emails would go to the trash folder, where they stay for 30 days. If you want to free up space immediately or delete emails permanently right away, go to the trash folder and delete the emails permanently by following the steps discussed earlier.

How to Mass Delete Emails Using Canary Mail?

Canary Mail has made it very easy for its users to keep their mailbox organized. If you feel like you have too many unnecessary emails in your mailbox and want to bulk delete them, you can easily do that by using the “Bulk Cleaner” feature of the Canary Mail.

When you click on the Bulk Cleaner option at the top of the screen, multiple emails are selected, which you can review (unselect email(s) that you do not want to delete yet) and then delete all the selected items by clicking on the “three-dot icon” and then clicking on the “delete” option.

To Wrap It Up

In summary, deleting an email from your “Sent” box only deletes the copy from your mailbox but does not affect the email copy that is sitting in the recipient’s “inbox.” Simply deleting emails from your inbox is quite easy, but you should know emails are not permanently deleted; instead, deleted emails stay in “Trash” or “Deleted items” for 30 days unless you delete them permanently from there.

As far as making an email disappear from the recipient’s mailbox is concerned, that can be done with the “Email Recall” or “undo Send” features of Outlook and Gmail, respectively, or with similar features offered by email clients.

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