How to Write Now and Send Later in Outlook


There are a lot of reasons you might want to delay sending a message in Outlook. Maybe you want to get all of your “happy birthday” messages for the year written and scheduled. Perhaps you want to make sure a message reaches a recipient in a different time zone at the beginning of their day, even if it’s midnight where you are. Whatever the goal, chances are you’ll need to use this function someday. Here’s how.

In Office 2003 and earlier versions of Outlook, write your message as normal. When you’re finished, go to the Options button on the toolbar. Go to the “Delivery options” segment of the Message Options dialog box that opens. Check the box that says “Do not deliver before” and then use the drop-down messages to select a date and time. Click the Close button when you’re done and hit Send on your message.

The steps are basically the same with Office 2007 and later versions, except that you start by finding the Delay Delivery button on the Options ribbon (see below).

Here’s what the Message Options dialog looks like in Office 2007 for a message scheduled to go out at 9:30am on July 23, 2010.


Now, a note about how Delay Delivery actually works. Depending on what kind of messaging service you use, the message may “live” in a different place until it actually sends. 

If you’re using a POP or IMAP setup, the message will sit in your Outlook outbox until the send time arrives. If you have Outlook up and running at the send time, your message will go out as scheduled. If you do not have Outlook running, the message will remain unsent until the next time you start it up. 

If you’re on an Exchange server, the message will “live” on the Exchange server until the send time – it doesn’t matter if your own personal Outlook client is open or not. As long as your server is up, the message will send as scheduled. 

Not sure of the difference between POP/IMAP and Exchange email? Click here to download our free guide to small business email, which explains the differences between POP/IMAP and Exchange and shows you how to decide which setup is best for your business.


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