IT for Donuts: how to delay an email in Outlook

By: John McGarvey

Date: 7 November 2014

How to delay and email - image of alarm clocks{{}}IT for Donuts is our regular feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week, we have a neat trick for those times when you are busy and are 'burning the midnight oil'.

Sometimes, when we’re busy, we can end up sending emails at odd times of the day (or night). Luckily, Outlook has a feature to delay sending those messages until a more normal time.

Read on and find out how to use it…

Why delay delivery in Outlook?

There are a number of reasons you might want to delay sending an email in Outlook. For instance:

  • You wrote the email at an odd time(say 4am, or Sunday), but you don’t want the recipient to know you were working on it then.

  • You know the email recipient will appreciate getting your message at a certain time of day, when they’re less busy.

  • You don't want to encourage your own employees to respond to emails outside of office hours, even though you tend to send them then.

Whatever your reason, Outlook has a ‘delay delivery’ feature built in for situations just like these.

How to delay delivery in Outlook

Here’s how to delay delivery of an email in Microsoft Outlook. These instructions are for the latest version (Outlook 2013), but should work in previous versions, too:

  1. Write your email as normal. But once you’ve finished it, don’t hit Send!
  2. At the top of your message, select Options.
  3. In the More Options section, choose Delay Delivery.
  4. Under Delivery Options, select Do not deliver before.
  5. Select the date and time you would like your message to be delivered.

That’s it. Now when you select Send, the message will be held in your outbox until the delivery time you selected.

Depending how your email is set up, you might need to keep your copy of Outlook running in order for the delayed delivery to work:

  • If your email runs on Microsoft Exchange (very likely, if you’re using Outlook), the message will send at the selected time, no matter whether or not you keep Outlook open.
  • If your email uses POP3 or IMAP (other types of email systems), your copy of Outlook must be open in order for the message to send at the time you selected.

To check what kind of email system you have, go to File > Account Settings > Email. The Type column will show what kind of system you have. (Alternatively, just ask your IT supplier.)

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