Send automatic Out of Office replies from Outlook 2010

You can set up Microsoft Outlook 2010 to automatically respond to people who send you an email message. This helps inform people that you aren’t in the office or that your response might be delayed.

If you have an account on a Microsoft Exchange Server, you can use Automatic Replies to set up your automatic responses. Automatic Replies can include details such as alternate contact information, how long you'll be gone, and so on. To set up Automatic Replies, go to I have an Exchange Server account.

The Automatic Replies feature is available only if you are using an Exchange Server account. If you are using an Outlook.com, Hotmail, Google Gmail, Yahoo! or other POP3, or IMAP account, you can combine an Outlook email template with Outlook rules to reproduce the functionality of the Automatic Replies feature. Go to I have an Outlook.com, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! or other POP3 or IMAP account for alternate procedures. If you aren't sure what type of account you have, go to I'm not sure what kind of account I have.

I have an Exchange Server account

If you have an Exchange Server account, you use slightly different procedures to turn Automatic Replies on or off, depending on the Exchange Server version that you are using. If you aren’t sure which version of Exchange Server your account uses, go to Determine the version of Microsoft Exchange Server my account connects to.

If you aren’t going to check email messages while you are out of the office, Use rules with Automatic Replies to automatically manage incoming messages by specifying what action Outlook should take with them. For example, you can create rules to automatically move or copy messages to other folders, to delete messages, to send custom replies, and so on.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Automatic Replies.

    If you don’t see this command, you probably don’t have an Exchange Server account.

  3. Select Send automatic replies.

  4. If you want, select the Only send during this time range check box to schedule when your out of office replies are active. If you don’t specify a start and end time, auto-replies are sent until you select the Do not send automatic replies check box.

  5. On the Inside My Organization tab, type the response that you want to send to teammates or colleagues while you are out of the office.

    Inside my organization

  6. On the Outside My Organization tab, select the Auto-reply to people outside my organization check box, and then type the response that you want to send while you are out of the office. Select whether you want replies sent to My contacts only or to Anyone outside my organization who sends you messages.

    Outside my organization

    Notes: 

    • Organization is usually defined as your company and includes people who have an Exchange Server account on your email system.

    • If you select My Contacts only, replies are sent only to contacts that exist in your Exchange Server Contacts folder. If the contact exists only in a folder that is a part of an Outlook Data File (.pst), then the auto-reply message isn’t sent.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Automatic Replies.

  3. Click I am currently Out of the Office.

  4. In the AutoReply only once to each sender with the following text box, type the message that you want to send to other people while you are out.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Automatic Replies.

  3. Click Rules, and then click Add Rule.

    Add rule

  4. Under When a message arrives that meets the following conditions, specify the conditions that the message must meet for the rule to be applied.

    Configure rule

  5. If you want to specify more conditions, click Advanced, enter or select the options that you want, and then click OK.

    Advanced dialog

  6. If you want to specify that this rule must be applied last, select the Do not process subsequent rules check box.

  7. Under Perform these actions, select the actions that you want. You can select more than one action.

    Perform these actions

  8. Click OK three times.

    Notes: 

    • Follow this same procedure to edit Automatic Replies rules that you already have.

    • To turn Automatic Replies rules on or off, in the Automatic Reply Rules dialog box, select or clear the check box of the rule that you want to turn on or off.

I have an Outlook.com, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! or other POP3 or IMAP account

You can combine an Outlook email template with Outlook rules to reproduce the functionality of the Automatic Replies feature that is available only to Exchange Server accounts.

Important: You must leave your computer turned on and Outlook running for the automated replies to be sent.

  1. On the Home tab, in the New group, click New E-mail.

    Click New E-mail

  2. In the message body, type the message that you want to send as your automated reply.

  3. In the message window, click the File tab, and then click Save As.

  4. In the Save As dialog box, in the Save as type list, click Outlook Template (*.oft).

  5. In the File name box, type a name for your message template, and then click Save.

    Save as Office Template

  1. On the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules, and then click Manage Rules & Alerts.

    Manage rules and alerts

  2. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, click New Rule.

    Select New Rule

  3. Under Start from a blank rule, click Apply rules on messages I receive, and then click Next.

    Start from a blank rule

  4. Under Which condition(s) do you want to check?, select any criteria that you want, and then click Next. Typically, you don’t need to select any items.

  5. Under What do you want to do with the message?, select the reply using a specific template check box.

    Reply using a specific template

  6. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value), click a specific template.

  7. In the Select a Reply Template dialog box, in the Look In box, click User Templates in File System.

  8. Select the template that you created in the previous section or one that you have created or downloaded, and then click Open.

  9. Click Next.

  10. Select the check boxes for any exceptions to the auto-reply rule. It is common not to add any exceptions.

    Select exceptions

  11. Click Next.

  12. Under Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, type a name for the auto-reply rule, and then click Finish.

    Specify a name

Important:  For the Rules Wizard to send a reply automatically, Outlook must be running and configured to check periodically for new messages.

The reply using a specific template rule in the Rules Wizard sends your automated reply only one time to each sender during a single session. A session is every time that you start Outlook until you exit the application. This rule prevents Outlook from sending repetitive replies to a single sender from whom you receive multiple messages. During a session, Outlook keeps track of the list of users to whom it has responded. If you exit and then restart Outlook, it is considered a new session and the list of the senders who have received automated replies is reset.

Tip:  Consider creating an Outlook task or to-do reminder to help you remember to turn off this rule when you want to stop sending automatic replies.

To turn off a rule that is sending automatic replies, do the following:

  1. On the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules, and then click Manage Rules & Alerts.

  2. On the E-mail Rules tab, under Rule, clear the check box for the rule that you want to turn off.

I'm not sure what kind of account I have

Click the File tab. Click Account Settings, and then click Account Settings. On the E-mail tab, the list of accounts indicates the type of each account.

Example of an Exchange Account in the Account Settings dialog box

See also

Send Automatic Replies when you're away

Determine the version of Microsoft Exchange Server my account connects to

Create and add an email message signature (Outlook 2010)

Was this information helpful?

Great! Any other feedback?

How can we improve it?

Thank you for your feedback!

×