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Avoiding embarrassing situations with Outlook

Do you know that sinking feeling you get when you realize (immediately after hitting “Send”) that you just emailed confidential information to the wrong person? No? Just wait, that day is coming.

Today, I want to share with you a couple of tricks for “saving face” in those critical moments when your fingers are moving faster than your brain. Some of you may be aware of these tools and may have even averted email disaster once or twice. For others, these ideas will be new and exciting. In either case, please proceed with caution. These techniques are not guaranteed to work in every situation but they are certainly worth a try when trying to avoid a bit of professional embarrassment.

I did NOT just delete that!

On a semi-frequent basis, I will fat finger the delete key while I’m working in Microsoft Outlook and dispatch an important message into oblivion. After my initial panic, I’ll remember that there are two layers of safety nets protecting me from myself – one within Outlook itself and the other within UGA’s underlying Microsoft Exchange infrastructure. So, what does that mean and why do I care?

deletedIf I need to recover an item that I have accidentally deleted, the first step is to check my “Deleted Items” folder. When I delete a message, task or calendar event it is not immediately purged from existence. Instead, the “deleted” item is moved to the “Deleted Items” folder. If the “Deleted Items” folder hasn’t been emptied since I accidentally erased the item, I will likely find it there.

recover icon

recover dialogIf my “Deleted Items” folder has already been emptied, there is still a glimmer of hope. I can click on the “Folder” tab at the top of the Outlook interface and then select the “Recover Deleted Items” icon. Yes, there is a “Recover Deleted Items” function in Outlook! Items purged from the “Deleted Items” folder are still held on the server for some time and you can use this function to retrieve such items from that server. Once you click on “Recover Deleted Items,” you will be presented with a new dialog window wherein you can select any items that you would like to restore. Click the “Recover Selected Items” icon to return those selected items to the “Deleted Items” folder. From there, you can move those items back to an appropriate location.

What I really meant was…

For a variety of reasons, we may find ourselves sending inappropriate or incomplete messages to our peers, students, bosses, etc. We may simply have hit “Send” accidentally before we completed our thought or we may realize a little too late that our composition was not the most appropriate response to a discussion thread. Regardless of the exact circumstance, we may wish we could turn back time and send something a bit different or maybe send nothing at all.

If your recipients are on the same Exchange network (meaning they have @uga.edu email addresses), they haven’t already read your message and the appropriate stars are in alignment; Outlook has another feature that may be beneficial to you. First, go to the “Sent” folder in Outlook and open the message in question. On the menu, click on “Actions” in the “Move” group and select “Recall This Message.” The dialog box that opens will now give you the option to either (1) delete the message from the recipients’ Inbox if they have not already read the message or (2) delete the message and replace it with a new message.recallrecall2

So, there you have it – a couple of handy tools for your use. It is obviously in our own best interests to carefully avoid making those pesky little mistakes to begin with. For us mere mortals, though, it’s nice to know that we have a few options when we do mess up.

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Brian Watson

About Brian Watson

Brian is the director of the Office of Information Technology and is responsible for providing strategic direction to the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences IT support programs.