Although many people will send emails immediately after they finish writing them, there may be times where scheduling an email for sending at a later time and date is a preferred choice.
Perhaps you are making an announcement for all of your co-workers, where no one should hear the news until the specified time.
You may wish to prepare a series of job tasks for individual employees, but you want each employee to receive his or her list at the same time. You don’t want to send the tasks until each individual message is ready, so no one has the information earlier than anyone else.
The Microsoft Outlook schedule an email feature gives you the ability to do this. You can set up the exact time Outlook should send the messages. Although it takes several steps to set up this feature, once you have used it a few times, you’ll be able to complete the process quickly going forward.
Here are the steps required to use the Outlook schedule an email process.
Step 1: Start Composing the New Email Message
Open the Outlook app and click on the Home menu, followed by New Email.
Enter the name for the recipient of the message in the To area. You can enter multiple email addresses in this area. (Use the CC and BCC fields for addresses, if desired.)
In the Subject area, enter a few words that describe the nature of the message.
Step 2: Set Up the Delivery Time
We suggest that you set up the delivery time at this point in the process, before you begin typing the body of the email message. Otherwise, you might just click the Send button as soon as you finish typing the email out of habit, forgetting to set up the delivery time you want to use. Setting the delivery time at this step will prevent you from inadvertently making this error.
In the menu at the top of the Outlook screen, click Options, followed by the Delay Delivery icon toward the right side of the screen. (If you do not see Delay Delivery, you may need to first click on the More Options area to give you the Delay Delivery button.)
In the Delay Delivery popup window, scroll downward toward the Delivery Options section. Place a check mark in the Do Not Deliver Before checkbox. Then select the date and time at which you would like to have Outlook send the message from the drop down menus to the right.
When picking a time from the drop down menu, pay attention to the AM or PM designation, so you don’t make an embarrassing error here. (Depending on your settings for the Outlook schedule an email setup, the time drop down menu may list the time in 24-hour military time, rather than using AM and PM.)
Click the Close button to save your choices and to return to the email message window.
Step 3: Finish Composing the Email Message
Click in the body section of the email and compose the message. You can attach files by clicking the Insert menu, followed by Attach File, just as you would with any email message.
Once you’re finished with the message, click the Send button. Outlook will move the scheduled email message into the Outbox folder until the time arrives for delivering it.
Step 4: Changing Your Mind on the Scheduled Message
If you change your mind regarding anything about the scheduled message, you can make changes while the message sits in the Outbox folder. For each of these options, start by clicking on the Outbox folder to see the messages it is holding.
Changing the Scheduled Time
From the Outlook Outbox, you can change the scheduled time for delivery. Open the message in Outbox.
Click Options and Delay Delivery, as we discussed earlier. In the popup window, you can remove the checkmark from the Do Not Deliver Before checkbox and click Close. Now when you click Send, Outlook will send the message immediately.
You also can change the date and time to send the message in the popup window using the drop down menus on the right. Leave the checkmark active in the Do Not Deliver Before checkbox. Click Close. When you click Send, Outlook will reschedule the message for the new date and time.
Editing a Message in the Outbox
Click on the message that you want to change. Make any editing changes you want to the body of the message or to the intended recipients. Then click Send again to reschedule the message.
Delete a Scheduled Message
If you completely change your mind about sending the message, right-click on the message in the Outbox folder. Then left-click Delete from the popup menu. (Just make sure you delete it before the scheduled delivery time.)
Final Tips for Using Outlook to Schedule an Email
There are a few other things to keep in mind when scheduling an email in Microsoft Outlook for a later delivery.
Have the Computer Running
To send the message at the scheduled time, your computer will need to be up and running. If not, Outlook will not be able to send the message until the next time you have the computer running.
Have Outlook Running
Additionally, Outlook will need to be actively running to send the message at the desired time. For most people, this is not a concern, as Outlook runs either actively or in the background any time the computer is turned on.
However, if you do not allow Outlook to run in the background, you will need to make sure it is actively running at the scheduled delivery time for your Outlook emails.
Have an Active Internet Connection
To send your message with Outlook, you will need to have your Internet connection active at the scheduled time. Again, for most people, this is not a problem, as they have a constant WiFi or hard-wired Internet connection.
However, if your computer drops your WiFi connection occasionally, if your company turns off its Internet connection outside of business hours, or if your IT team happens to be doing system maintenance that affects the Internet connection at the time you want to send the messages, this could cause an issue.
Accurate Date and Time
Outlook relies on the Windows date and time to send the scheduled message, so you’ll want to make certain the system is tracking time accurately. For the majority of people, this will not be an issue, as time and date errors in Windows are extremely rare. Still, you may want to double-check the accuracy of the system time before scheduling your messages.
Other Ways to Schedule Emails
If you don’t want to use the Outlook schedule an email process, you have a few other options for sending messages at a future date and time, both with Outlook and with other software and apps.
1. Delay Delivery of a Message in Outlook
If you want to send an Outlook message after a bit of a delay, you can simply tell Outlook to delay sending the message for a period of time up to two hours. You can use this feature to compose a message that you may want to review again just before it sends. Outlook will hold the message until the delayed delivery time expires.
With a new message open in Outlook, click the File menu and Manage Rules & Alerts. Then click New Rule. Place a checkmark on Apply Rule on Messages I Send and click Next.
In the Select Conditions area, remove all of the checkmarks and click Next. (You will have to verify this selection by clicking Yes in the popup window.)
In the Select Actions area, place a checkmark next to Defer Delivery By a Number of Minutes checkbox. In the Edit the Rule Description, enter the number of minutes to delay (up to 120 minutes). Click OK.
Click Next on the subsequent windows until you see Specify a Name for This Rule. Give your rule a name. Then click the Turn on This Rule checkbox. Click Finish.
As you click Send after composing the message, it will remain in the Outbox until the delay time expires.
To change your mind and send the message immediately, go back and remove the checkbox in the Apply Rule on Messages I Send.
2. Schedule Emails in Gmail in a Web Browser
If you are a Gmail user, you can set up a series of messages to go out at a certain date and time.
Start with a new message and add the recipients and a subject line. To schedule it for a future time, click the downward arrow next to the Send button. Click Schedule Send from the popup menu.
Select a time and date you want to use from the suggested list, or click on Pick Date & Time to set a specific date and time. After setting a specific time, click Schedule Send to verify the time.
The message will appear in the Scheduled folder of Gmail.
3. Schedule Emails in the Gmail App
You can schedule an email for a later delivery date through the Gmail app for Android or iOS devices as well.
Open the Gmail app on your mobile device and start a new message. To set up a scheduled delivery time, tap the three dots in the upper right corner. Tap Schedule Send and select one of the options for the delivery time.
4. Schedule Emails in Apple Mail With Spark
When scheduling emails for delivery at a later time in Apple Mail, you’ll need to use a plug-in. Apple Mail has no native option for scheduling future delivery of emails built into the software.
Spark is one of the best third-party apps for this purpose that you can download from iTunes for free. Spark has a Mac version as well as an iOS version for the iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad. Spark will work with Apple Mail, but it also will work for other popular email clients, including Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook.
After you download Spark, you’ll need to set it up to use with your preferred email client by following the prompts.
Compose a new message in Spark. When you’re ready to send, click on or tap on the Schedule icon, which is to the right of the Send button in Spark for Mac and on the right side just above the keyboard in Spark for iOS. Choose the time and date to send the message and click Set Time or tap Apply.
On Spark for Mac, the Send button will turn into a Schedule button. Click it to schedule the message for sending.
On Spark for iOS, the date and time Spark will send the message appears in the lower right corner. Tap the Schedule icon in the upper right corner to complete the process.
In both versions, Spark will store the message in the Outbox folder until the scheduled time.