Video: Use automatic replies without Exchange

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Set up out-of-office messages even if you don’t have a Microsoft Exchange account. Save an email message as a template, then create an Outlook rule to send it to anyone who writes to you while you’re away.

Auto replies without Exchange

  1. Create a new email.

  2. Add your out-of-office message.

  3. Save the email as an email template.

  4. Create an Outlook rule to respond to incoming messages with that template.

  5. To turn off the rule, click Home > Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts. Then uncheck the box for the rule.

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Send automatic out of office replies from Outlook

Manage email messages by using rules

If you don’t have an Exchange account, you can still use Automatic Replies, but you need to go through a few extra steps to set them up.

You start by creating an email template, then you create a rule that sends the template to people who send you mail while you’re away.

Creating the message template is a mostly painless process.

Just open a new email, add the out-of-office message, and save it as a template.

Make sure to pick Outlook Template from the Save As Type list when you save the message.

Next, set up a rule to send that message while you’re out.

This is a little different than the rules I described in the last video, since we’re not working with an Exchange account.

I’m already on the Home tab, so I click Rules and then pick Manage Rules & Alerts from the list.

I want a new rule, so I click that button to start the Rules Wizard.

In the section called Start from a blank rule, I click Apply rules on messages I receive, and then I can move on to the next page of the wizard.

In the top box, you can pick options for when to use the rule.

For example, you might only want to respond to messages marked with high importance.

If you want the responses to go to everyone who sends an email, you don’t need to check any of these boxes.

Just click Next to go to the next page of the wizard.

Then, in the top box, I select Reply using a specific template.

In the bottom box, I click the underlined link, which sends me off to find the template I created earlier.

Once I’m done with that, I can move on to the next page.

I have all the information I need, so I’ll click Next and then Finish to close the wizard.

This type of rule only runs while Outlook is running.

So while you’re away, don’t forget to leave your computer on, set it so it won’t go to sleep, and leave Outlook running!

One last tip: This type of reply won’t shut off automatically when you get back.

You might want to take a few seconds to set up a calendar reminder in Outlook to turn off the reply.

When it’s time to turn the rule off, go back to the Rules and Alerts dialog box and clear the checkbox next to your rule.

Turning off the rule doesn’t delete it, so you can keep it around for the next time you’re out of the office.

In fact, you can save yourself from a last-minute frenzy by setting up your rule well in advance, but leaving it unchecked until you’re ready to head out the door.

So that's a quick introduction to Automatic Replies.

The Quick Reference Card at the end of this course has links to more detailed information.

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