Out-of-office reply, also called automatic reply, is a very useful feature in Microsoft Outlook to send automatic replies to the people who sent you e-mails. It is useful in keeping the senders updated with your availability. This feature is present in Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2010 and even in the older versions of Microsoft Outlook. It is commonly referred to as an out-of-office reply; however, it can be used in many other situations as well.
Out of Office Reply Feature only works with Exchange Accounts. If you don’t have an exchange account, then you will need to set up rules to do this for you as discussed below.
Setup Out-of-Office Reply in Outlook 2013, 2016 and 2010 with Exchange accounts
- In Microsoft Outlook, click File, Info.
- And then select Automatic Replies (Out of Office).Note: If the Automatic Replies (Out of Office) option is not available, you are not using an Exchange account. Please refer to the next section to know about setting automatic replies in non-exchange accounts.
- Check the Send Automatic Replies check box. If you want to set start time and end time for automatic replies, check the Only send during this time range check box, and set start and end date and time.
- In the tab labeled Inside My Organization, type the text message you want to send as a reply if someone emails you within the organization.
- In the tab labeled Outside My Organization, check the Auto-reply to people outside my organization checkbox and select one of the radio button options labeled as My Contacts only or Anyone outside my organization.
The automatic reply feature will be automatically deactivated after the specified date and time. However, if you want to deactivate the auto-reply before this, you can access the automatic replies settings again and choose the Do not send automatic replies radio button.
Setup Out-of-Office Reply in Outlook 365 Online (Web Based)
If you are using Outlook 365 on the web, follow the steps outlined below to set out-of-office reply
- Open the Outlook in your web browser and log in to your account.
- Click on the gear wheel button at the top of the page to access settings.
- Click Automatic Replies and click Send automatic replies radio button.
- Set the date and time for automatic replies if required.
- Type your message.
- Click Save when finished.
- Setup Out-of-Office Reply in Outlook 2013, 2016 and 2010 with All Other Accounts
If you are using non-exchange email accounts, which falls into other categories where the account type would usually be a POP or IMAP, for example, @outlook.com, @aol.com, @live.com, etc. You can simulate the automatic replies functionality by combining an Outlook email template with Outlook rules.
- Click Home and then New Email. Type the message you want to send as an automatic reply.
- Click File -> Save As; in Save as Type drop-down list, choose Outlook Template.
- Type any name for the template and click Save.
- Now that you have created an auto-reply template, you need to create a rule to auto reply to new email messages.
- Click Rules, and then Manage Rules & Alerts.
- Click New Rule in the Rules and Alerts dialog box. Click Apply rules on messages I receive under Start from a blank rule, and click Next, and Next Again.
- Check Reply using a specific template under What do you want to do with the messages -> Click a specific template,
- In the Look In box in Select a Reply Template dialog box, click User Templates in File System. A standard select file dialog box will appear. Point to the auto-reply template you have created in the first step. Click Next, Next, Finish, and Apply.
Note: For this method to send auto-replies, the Rules Wizard needs that Outlook must be running and it should be configured to check for new messages periodically. By default, Outlook is set to check new messages periodically.
To prevent the Outlook from sending repetitive replies to your email senders, the Rules Wizard will send one reply per sender during each session. A session starts when you start Outlook and ends when you close the application.
Remember to turn off the rule after it is not needed anymore. Otherwise, it will keep sending auto-replies.