Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Setting up an email delivery delay rule

Have you ever sent an email that you have regretted just after hitting 'send'? (e.g. using reply all when you only wanted your reply to go to one person; spot a mistake just as you hit send; forget to include the attachment; etc.) You can utilise rules to give you a 'safety net' period before the email is sent, however this option is only available for people using the Outlook client to send their email.

Using OWA:

Only rules can be created for incoming emails with Outlook Web App therefore a rule to set a delay on outgoing email is not possible. If you have set up the rule via the Outlook client, the rule will only run whilst the Outlook client is open.

Using Outlook client (2010):

1. Go to Files.
2. Choose Manage Rules & Alerts from the main screen.
3. Click on New Rule.
4. Choose Apply rule on messages I send (under the heading Start from a blank rule).
5. Click Next.
6. Click Next (without choosing any option). This will raise a message - 'This rule will be applied to every message you send. Is this correct?' Click Yes.
7. Choose defer delivery by a number of minutes.
8. This phrase is entered into the lower box and you need to click on the link a number of there. Type in the number of minutes delay you wish to set.
9. Click OK and Next.
10. Choose any exceptions if there are any, otherwise click Next.
11. Give the rule a name.
12. Click Finish.
13. Another message will appear - 'This rule is a client-only rule, and will process only when Outlook is running'. Click OK.
14. All emails you now send will sit in your Outbox for the number of minutes you have chosen before actually being sent. Therefore you can delete it out of your Outbox before it goes if you change your mind about sending the email. If you actually want to retrieve this email for amendment and re-sending, it will be in your Deleted Items folder. Simply open the email up, make your amendments and re-send.
15. Please Note: think carefully about how many minutes delay will work for you. See notes below.

Note the following:
  • Once the email is in your Sent Items folder then it cannot be retracted!
  • You cannot manually override this rule (if active) and push any individual email(s) out before the time delay has elapsed.
  • You can of course turn off the rule to enable emails to send straightaway (any emails already in your Outbox before you turn off the rule are still subject to the delay), however there is a danger you will forget to put it back on and it will be turned off when you actually send an email you wish to retract.
  • Always check your Outbox before closing your Outlook client!

Regarding the screenshot:


  • If you open an email sitting in your Outbox, you may notice that it no longer is in italics and the icon changes. When an email is subject to a delay rule and is in the Outbox not italicised - it will not be sent. It will continue to stay there until you re-open and click on the Send button (and may also be subject to further delay depending on the status of the rule).
Closing Outlook client:
  • If there are emails ready to send sitting in the Outbox when you close Outlook, then Outlook will tell you this - no messages will be sent whilst Outlook is closed, they will go once Outlook is re-opened and the delay time has elapsed.
  • If there are emails not in italics sitting in the Outbox when you close Outlook, then you will not be prompted on closing Outlook - they will still be there when you re-open Outlook and will continue to stay there until you re-open the email(s) and click on the Send button.