Schedule email sending and delay delivery in Outlook

Three ways to delay send in Outlook: delay delivery of a particular message, create a rule to defer all emails, or schedule auto sending.

Does it often happen to you that you send a message and a moment later you wish you hadn't? Perhaps you clicked Reply All instead of Reply, or accidentally sent sensitive information to a wrong person, or just realized that your angry response was a bad idea and you need to cool down and think of better arguments.

The good news is that Microsoft Outlook provides a way to recall a message that has already been sent. However, that only works for Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange accounts and has many other limitations. A more reliable way is to prevent these kinds of situations by delaying email sending for a certain interval. This will give you a bit of time for afterthought and an opportunity to grab a message from the Outbox folder before it actually goes out.

How to schedule an email in Outlook

If you want a specific message to go out at a particular time, the simplest solution is to delay its delivery. Here are the steps to schedule an email in Outlook:

  1. When composing a message, do one of the following:
    • On the Message tab, in the Tags group, click the dialog launcher the Dialog Launcher icon.
    • On the Options tab, in the More Options group, click the Delay Delivery button.
      Delaying delivery of a specific email in Outlook
  2. In the Properties dialog box, under Delivery options, put a tick in the Do not deliver before check box and set the desired date and time.
  3. Click the Close button.
    Specify the delivery date and time.
  4. When you've finished composing your email, click Send in the message window.

A scheduled mail will be waiting in the Outbox folder until the specified delivery time. While in the Outbox, you are free to edit or delete the message.

How to re-schedule sending an email

If you've changed your mind at a later point, you can change or cancel a delayed delivery in this way:

  1. Open the message from the Outbox folder.
  2. On the Options tab, in the More Options group, click the Delay Delivery button.
  3. In the Properties dialog box, do one of the following:
    • To send the message immediately, clear the "Do not deliver before" box.
    • To re-schedule the email, choose another delivery date or time.
  4. Click the Close button.
  5. In the message window, click Send.

Depending on your choice in step 3, the message will either be sent right away or remain in the Outbox until the new delivery time.

Tips and notes:

  • This option is only available in the desktop Outlook client, not in Outlook on the web.
  • Emails can only be sent and received when Outlook is running. If Outlook is closed at the delivery time that you've chosen, the message will be sent the next time you open Outlook. Likewise, if the recipient's Outlook is closed at that moment, they will receive your message on the next start.

How to delay sending of all emails in Outlook

All outgoing messages in Outlook are routed through the Outbox folder. Unless you disabled the default setting, once a message gets into the Outbox, it is sent immediately. To change this, set up a rule to delay email sending. Here's how:

  1. On the File tab, click Manage Rules & Alerts. Or, on the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts:
    Manage Rules & Alerts in Outlook
  2. In the Rules and Alerts dialog window, click New Rule.
    Start creating a new Outlook rule.
  3. Under Start from a Blank Rule, click the Apply rule on messages I send option, and then click Next.
    Apply the rule to outgoing messages.
  4. If you want to delay emails that meet certain conditions, select the corresponding check box(es). For example, to delay messages sent through a specific account, check the "though the specified account" box, and then click Next.

    To delay sending of all emails, do not check any options, simply click Next. Outlook will ask you to confirm that you want the rule to be applied to every message that you send, and you click Yes.
    To delay sending of all emails, do not select any conditions.

  5. In the upper pane, under Step 1: Select actions, check the defer delivery by a number of minutes box.
    Creating an Outlook delay delivery rule
  6. In the lower pane, under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click a number of link. This will open a small Deferred Delivery dialog box, where you type the number of minutes for which you want to delay delivery (a maximum of 120), and then click OK.
    Enter the number of minutes for which you want to delay delivery.
  7. The link now displays the time interval for which Outlook will delay sending of emails. At this point, you can already click Finish to save time. Or you can click Next to configure some exceptions and/or give an appropriate name to the rule. To walk you through the whole process, we click Next.
    Defer delivery rule in Outlook
  8. Depending on whether you want any exceptions or not, select one or more check boxes or click Next without selected anything.
  9. In the final step, give the rule some meaningful name, say "Delay sending email", make sure the Turn on this rule option is selected, and click Finish.
    Finish creating the rule to delay sending email in Outlook.
  10. Click OK twice – in the confirmation message and in the Rules and Alerts dialog box.

After you click the Send button, the message will be routed to the Outbox folder and remain there for the time interval that you've specified.

Tips and notes:

  • You are free to edit a message while it's in the Outbox, this won't reset the timer.
  • If you wish to rescind the delay and send the message immediately, perform the steps described in How to re-schedule an email and set the delivery time to the current time. Clearing the "Do not deliver before" box won't work in this case because the Outlook delay delivery rule will automatically select it again. As the result, the timer will be reset, and your message will go out with even a bigger delay.

Disable or schedule automatic send/receive in Outlook

Out of the box, Outlook is configured to send emails immediately, which is not what many of us want. Luckily, you can easily turn off that setting and determine yourself when your email is to go out.

Disable automatic email sending / receiving

To prevent Outlook from sending and receiving email automatically, this is what you need to do:

  1. Click File > Options, and then click Advanced in the left pane.
  2. Scroll down to the Send and Receive section and clear the Send immediately when connected check box.
    Disable immediate email sending in Outlook
  3. In the Send and Receive section, click the Send/Receive… button.
  4. In the dialog window that appears, clear these boxes:
    • Schedule an automatic send/receive every … minutes
    • Preform an automatic send/receive when exiting

    Disable immediate email sending in Outlook

  5. Click Close.
  6. Click OK to close the Outlook Options dialog box.

With these three options disabled, you have full control over sending and receiving your mail. To do this, either press F9 or click the Send/Receive All Folders button on the Send/Receive tab of the Outlook ribbon.

If you might be at times absent-minded or are often distracted by phone calls or your colleagues, you may simply forget to timely receive mail and miss important messages. To prevent this from happening, it would be wise to schedule automatic send/receive with a time interval that works best for your needs.

Note. If you performed the above steps but your Outlook still sends and receives mail automatically, most likely you don't have control over your server. Alas, you will have to live with it.

Schedule email sending and receiving

To schedule automatic send/receive in Outlook, this is what you need to do:

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced.
  2. In the Send and Receive section, click the Send/Receive… button.
  3. In the dialog window that appears, select the Schedule an automatic send/receive every … minutes option and enter the number of minutes in the box.
  4. Click Close.
  5. Click OK.
    Schedule automatic email sending and receiving in Outlook.

If you are curious about the other two options in the first group, this is what they do:

  • Include this group in send/receive (F9) – keep this option selected if you want to continue using the F9 key to send your messages.
  • Preform an automatic send/receive when exiting – check or clear this option depending on whether you want or do not want Outlook to automatically send and receive messages on closing.

Please note that scheduling an automatic send/receive works differently from the defer delivery rule:

  • A rule only delays delivery of outgoing mails; the above setting controls both incoming and outgoing email.
  • A rule keeps each outgoing message in the Outbox for exactly as long as you've specified. Automatic send/received is performed every N minutes, regardless of when a particular message gets into the Outbox folder.
  • In case you decide to cancel the delay and send mail immediately, pressing F9 or clicking the Send/Receive All Folders button will overpower automatic sending; an email delayed by a rule will remain in the Outbox, unless you reschedule it manually.

That's how to delay sending email in Outlook. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

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