Outlook’s powerful automatic out of office response ensures that while you’re away, people know you’re not available when you return, and what they should do if they have a problem that needs immediate attention.

The setting for Out of Office Reply in Outlook depends on whether your email account is located on a Microsoft Exchange server or is email account IMAP or POP (for example, regular mail services such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail and others). ,

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013; Outlook for Office 365 and Outlook.com.

How to determine if you have an Exchange account

If you’re not sure if you’re using Outlook with an Exchange account, look in the status bar at the bottom of the Outlook window. If you’re using an Exchange account, you’ll see «Connected to: Microsoft Exchange» on the status bar.

Outlook 2016 status bar showing connection to Microsoft Exchange account

Create an Automatic Email Reply Template

To set up automatic reply in Outlook for an IMAP or POP email account (for Exchange, see below), use the Outlook Rules feature. Start with creating an email template for an autoresponder that will be sent to recipients while you are away.

  1. Select new email address .

    New email in Outlook
  2. Enter topic message and the message text that tells the recipient that you are not available.

    Let recipients know when they can expect a personal response from you, and be aware of how much information you disclose in your automatic reply because disclosing too much information can pose a risk .

  3. When you’ve finished composing your auto-reply message, select File.

    File menu in Outlook
  4. Select Save as .

    Save As option in the Outlook File dialog box
  5. Select drop-down arrow » Type of file» and select » Outlook Template» .

    Outlook Template File Type in Outlook
  6. Outlook uses the theme of the template as the name by default. text field «Name file» . Change this to whatever you like so you know this is your out of office email template file.

  7. Select Save .

    Save to Templates for Outlook button
  8. Close the message box.

Create an out-of-office auto-reply rule

The next step for IMAP or POP email accounts is to set up an Outlook rule. This rule will send a response using the template you created in the previous section.

  1. Select » File» > » Information» .

    Outlook 2016 account information screen
  2. Select » Manage Rules and Alerts» .

    Outlook 2016 has the Manage Rules and Alerts button selected
  3. Select tab » Email rules «.

    Outlook 2016 E-mail Rules tab selected
  4. Under Apply changes to this folder , select the email account you are creating the automatic reply for.

    You will have the option to apply the new rule to all accounts at a later stage.

  5. Select new rule .

    New Rule button in Outlook 2016
  6. In chapter Start with an empty rule select Apply rule to received messages .

    Blank rules section in Outlook 2016 with
  7. Select Further .

  8. On the step 1: select conditions check the box » Where is my name» in the «To» field .

    An auto-reply rule replies to all incoming emails if all conditions are cleared.

    Outlook 2016 Rules Wizard Step 1
  9. Select Further .

  10. AT Step 1: Choose an action(s) select response using a specific checkbox template .

    Outlook 2016 Rules Wizard
  11. AT Step 2: Edit the description of the rule (click the underlined value) , select link on the specific pattern .

    Outlook 2016 Rules Wizard window with
  12. Select dropdown arrow » Search in» then select » Custom templates in the file system» .

    Outlook 2016 Select Response Template Window With
  13. Highlight the template you created.

    Outlook 2016 Select Response Template window with out of office template selected
  14. Select Open .

  15. AT dialog box » Rule Master » select « Further» .

  16. AT Step 1: Select the exception(s) select exception if it checkbox automatic answer .

    Outlook 2016 Rules Wizard
  17. Select Further .

  18. AT Step 1: Specify a name for this rule enter a name for the auto-reply rule.

  19. AT Step 2: Configuring Rule Options check the box Enable this rule if you want to activate the autoresponder. If you don’t want the automatic reply to be active now, uncheck the box.

    If you have multiple email accounts where you want to use this autoresponder, check the box Create this rule for all accounts .

  20. Select Ready .

  21. AT dialog box » Rules and Warnings » select « OK» .

Outlook sends an auto-responder to the address of each email received once per session; a second automatic reply is sent after closing and reopening Outlook.

How to enable and disable automatic replies for IMAP and POP email accounts

For IMAP and POP email accounts, turn on autoresponder when you need it. Go to » File» > » Manage Rules and Alerts» > » Email Rules» , check the box next to the autoresponder rule and click » OK» .

To disable a respondent, uncheck the box and select OK .

Automatic replies for Microsoft Exchange accounts

If your email account is a Microsoft Exchange account (you can set up an Outlook.com account as an Exchange account in Outlook ), you can set up an out-of-office autoresponder directly on the server. Follow these steps for Outlook 2019, 2016, and Outlook for Office 365.

  1. Select » File» > » Information» .

  2. Select Automatic replies .

    Outlook 2016 information screen with automatic replies selected
  3. Select Send automatic replies . Compose your automatic reply message in the text field.

    To turn off automatic reply, go to dialog window » Automatic replies ‘ and select ‘ Don’t send automatic replies» . Auto-replies are no longer sent.

  4. Not necessary: Set the period of time you want the autoresponder to be active. Check box Only send within this time period . Then install start time and end time . Only messages received within this range will receive an automatic reply.

  5. If you work within a company or organization, you may have additional options for your automatic replies:

    • Within my organization : This message is sent to messages received from others in the same company or organization as you.
    • outside my organization : The message is sent to people outside your organization. Check box Autoresponder to people outside my organization .

    There is security risks associated with automatic responses.

  6. Select OK .

Outlook autoresponder tools and add-ons

Instead of manually configuring a rule in Outlook, use an add-on such as Mail Responder for Outlook or tools like Email Responder (FreeBusy) or Auto Reply Manager . These tools allow you to send only the required out-of-office responses.

To centrally maintain out-of-office responses on an Exchange server (including templates with fields merged with Active Directory), try Symprex Out-of-Office Manager .

How to enable automatic replies on Outlook.com

Turning on automatic replies on Outlook.com is a simple process. This feature doesn’t offer as many options as the Outlook software, but it’s easy to use.

  1. On the Outlook.com mail page, select Settings > View all Outlook settings .

    Outlook.com settings and view all selected Outlook settings
  2. Select Mail > Automatic replies .

    Outlook.com settings and selected automatic replies
  3. Turn on switch Enable automatic reply .

    To turn off automatic replies, turn off switch » Automatic replies when inclusion».

  4. Not necessary: check the box Send replies only within a certain period of time . Specify time start and graduation . Automatic replies are only sent during this period.

  5. Enter the message you want to send while automatic replies are enabled.

    Outlook.com automatic reply message introduced
  6. Not necessary: check the box Send replies to contacts only to send automatic replies only to people and email addresses in your Outlook.com contacts.

  7. Select Save .

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