Oops! Sent an Email to the Wrong Person? Here’s What to Do

Sending an email to the wrong person can be stressful. However, by using features like “undo send” and “Recall this message,” you can retrieve misdirected emails.

Oops! Sent an Email to the Wrong Person? Here’s What to Do

We’ve all been there: you have to send an urgent email, compose it in haste, hit the send button, and then the horror strikes—you have sent it to the wrong person.

Maybe the autocorrect/auto filler betrayed you, or you accidentally selected the wrong person. Whatever the cause is, an email sent to the wrong person could be horrifying—the privacy and security of the recipient and your professional reputation could be compromised.

If you have accidentally sent a misdirected email to the wrong person and now you are wondering: “what now?” stick with us. In this article, we will discuss the potential causes, ways to recall a misdirected email, and prevention strategies to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.

So, let’s get started with the potential causes.

Why an email may be sent to the wrong person?

We live in a fast-paced world. We are always doing things in a hurry. And in a hurry, mistakes like sending an email to the wrong person happen all the time. Here are some causes for sending an email to the wrong person:

Distractions and Human Error

The most common culprit for misdirected emails is human error, mostly due to distractions and multitasking under pressure. In a hurry, you type the wrong email address, copy-paste the wrong address, or send an email to a different person with a similar name and hit the send button before reviewing.

Auto-filling Betrays You

Another common reason is the auto-fill feature. While the auto-fill feature makes life easy by saving you time, it can also get you in trouble. Auto-fill errors mainly occur when you have multiple persons with similar names in your contact list.

Glitches And Software Malfunctions

It is not always the human error or autofill feature; sometimes, it is the fault of your email client, which glitches or experiences technical issues. Glitches and bugs might affect your email setting, which might result in a misdirected email.

Email hoaxes and phishing attacks

Last but not least, you might have been a victim of cybercrime. Cybercriminals often use email hoaxes and phishing attacks to trick users into sending emails to the wrong person. These phishing attacks are very sophisticated and convincing. This is why users often send emails with sensitive information to such hoax email addresses.

By using email clients like Canary Mail, you can get top-notch privacy and security, keeping you safe from such malicious attacks.

By understanding these potential causes, you can take steps to avoid misdirected emails in the future. But if you are already in the pickle—have sent the email to the wrong person—here is what you can do.

What to do if you incorrectly send an email?

A boy is stressed about sending an email to the wrong person

Do not start panicking if you have sent an email to the wrong person. Panicking won’t do any good. Instead, keep your composure so that you can take steps to try to retrieve the email or do some damage control.

How to recall an email in Gmail?

If you have sent an email to the wrong person while using Gmail, you can use the “Undo Send” feature to retrieve the misdirected email. Here is how:

  • When you send an email, an undo button appears at the bottom of the screen.
  • If you realize that you have sent an email to the wrong person, you can click that undo button to retrieve the email.

The undo feature of Gmail is not foolproof and won’t work if the email has already been delivered to the recipient. Besides that, the “undo” button appears for a brief moment. So if you are unable to take action in that short window, you won’t be able to recall the email. The default undo period of Gmail is 5 seconds, which can be increased to 30 seconds. Here is how:

  • Login to your Gmail in your web browser.
  • Click on the gear icon in the top right corner and click on the “see all settings” button.
  • Scroll down to the “undo send” section and change the “send cancelation period to 30. Gmail gives the following options: 5 sec, 10 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec.

Once you have selected the desired period, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on save changes.

How to recall an email in Outlook?

If you are a Microsoft Outlook user and have sent an email to the wrong person, here is how you can try to retrieve the email by using the “Recall this Message” feature:

  • Go to “Sent items” in your Outlook.
  • Open the misdirected email that you want to recall.
  • Find and click on the “action” button at the top of the screen.
  • From the dropdown menu, select the “Recall This Message” option.
  • From there, you should choose whether you want to delete the unread copy of the email or replace it with a new one. After selecting, hit “OK.”
  • If you choose to replace it with a new message, type the new email, review it, and hit the “Send” button.
  • Check the “tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient” box.
  • Select “OK.”

Like Gmail’s “Undo Send” feature, Outlook’s “Recall This Message” option also has limitations and is not a foolproof method of retrieving misdirected emails. For instance, it only works if the recipient has not already read the email, and that too when the recipient is also using a Microsoft Exchange email account and has not blocked the automatic email processing.

How does Canary Mail prevent misdirected emails?

If you want a more proactive way to prevent misdirected emails, consider using an email client like Canary Mail. Canary Mail is an email app for macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows that includes features that help prevent unintended emails before you send them.

When you are sending an email with Canary Mail, the app displays a pop-up message asking you to confirm the recipients of your email before it is sent. For instance, if you are sending an email with an attachment to the wrong person, it may give you an “Are you sure?” pop-up “you usually send pdf(s) to [email protected] and [email protected].”

Besides, it may also give you pop-ups for missing attachments and subject lines. These features ensure that every email that is sent from Canary Mail is going to the right people and contains all the right information. Besides that, the read receipts feature of Canary Mail would let you know if the other unintended recipient has already read the mail or not.

Currently, Canary offers these features only on macOS but will soon be introduced on other platforms.

Additionally, Canary Mail offers many other features, such as end-to-end encryption, secure-send, etc., that help keep your emails secure.

How to prevent future unintended emails?

Now that you have recalled the misdirected email, you may want to ensure that such an incident never happens again. Here are some practical tips to ensure that you never send an email to the wrong person again:

  1. Always double-check the email address: Before you hit the send button, take a quick look at the recipient list to ensure that there is no unintended email address. This may take a few seconds of your valuable time, but it is worth it.
  2. Keep the contact organized: You can keep the contact organized by using a contact manager that will make selecting the right recipient easy and reduce the potential risk of sending an email to the wrong person.
  3. Use email client features: As discussed earlier, some email clients offer features like “Undo Send” and “Compose Confirm” that can prevent you from sending an email to the wrong person. If available, put such methods to use to prevent misdirected emails in the future.
  4. Review and proofread: Before hitting the send button, proofread and review not only the recipient list but also the content of the email to ensure that it is free of errors and mistakes.

Following these tips can reduce the likelihood of sending misdirected emails and protect your sensitive information.

What to do if you receive an unintended email?

A boy is happy after recalling the email sent to the wrong person

If you have received an unintended email, you must handle the situation appropriately to protect your privacy and that of the sender.

  1. Never share the email: Resist the urge to share the mail with your friends, colleagues, or roommates, even if the email contains juicy gossip. Sharing one’s private information without consent could result in legal action.
  2. Inform the sender: If you receive a misdirected email, you must inform the sender immediately. Send them a message telling them that they have sent the email to the wrong person.
  3. Delete the email: After notifying the sender, you can go ahead and delete the email from your inbox. This will put an end to the mishap and ensure that there is no further accidental sharing of the email’s content.
  4. Seek guidance: If you do not know how to handle the situation, seek advice from the IT department or a cybersecurity expert. They can support you and guide you on how to handle unintended emails.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that you do not cause a potential breach of privacy or add to the misery of the accidental sender.

To wrap it up

Sending an email to the wrong person can be stressful. However, by using features like “undo send” and “Recall this message,” you can retrieve misdirected emails. Besides that, by following the best practices, you can reduce the likelihood of unintended emails in the future.

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