Outlook Rule to Delay Sending Mail

February 21, 2008

If you are like me, you have at least once in your email usage history, accidentally sent a mail that you either didn't mean to send, or immediately wanted to recall to edit or attach or otherwise massage before sending. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to hold your outbound emails for a short period of time?

As luck would have it, there is a way. At least if you are using Outlook.

Check Messages After Sending

Create a new rule using the "Start from a blank rule" option. In the Rules Wizard, under the "Step 1: Select when messages should be checked" option, pick "Check messages after sending."

Check Messages After Sending dialog option

Click next.

Which Conditions Do You Want To Check

Unless you want to apply the delay rule to a specific subset of messages you send, click next on the "Which condition(s) do you want to check?" dialog. Outlook will confirm that you really want to apply this rule to every message you send. Click yes.

Which Conditions to Check dialog option

What Do You Want To Do With The Message

On the "What do you want to do with the message?" dialog select the last option, "defer delivery by a number of minutes." Once you've selected that, click on the underlined portion of the statement in the edit portion of the dialog and enter the delay you want. Originally I had 5 minutes but I find this is too long so I've cut that back to 3 recently.

What To Do With The Message option

Click next again.

Exceptions

The "Are there any exceptions?" dialog gives you another chance to limit the scope of your new rule. Unless you want to add some exceptions, click next.

Exceptions dialog

Naming the Rule

The final step is to name your new rule. I called mine "Defer sending."

Name the Rule dialog

Client-Only

Click Finish to complete the rule. Outlook will popup a message warning you that this is a client-only rule, that will only run when Outlook is running. Click on OK.

Client only rule popup

All Done

That's it! You now have a built-in sending delay or 3 or 5 or whatever minutes. The next time you hit send without having attached the file, or just before realizing that you didn't spell check the message, you now have a chance to visit the outbox and correct the mail before it is sent.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.