Automatic replies (formerly Out of office assistant)

Set up automatic replies, (formerly Out of office assistant) in Outlook, whenever you want to let people who send you email know that you won’t be responding to their messages right away. Automatic replies are sent once to each sender.


Set up automatic replies in Outlook

  1. Open Outlook, and on the upper left side of the windows, choose File, then Automatic Replies (Out of Office).

    Outlook 2016 File tab

    Automatic replies in Outlook

    If you don’t see Automatic Replies (Out of Office), make sure you are in the main Outlook window, and not in an email message. If you still don't see the option, you probably don’t have an Exchange Server account. Use this workaround instead to set up your automatic replies.

  2. Select Send automatic replies.

  3. Select 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 Do not send automatic replies.

  4. On the Inside My Organization tab, type the response that you want to send to your teammates or colleagues.

  5. 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 to people who aren't in your organization, such as clients from other companies that you work with.

    If these options are grayed out, make sure you've selected Send automatic replies at the top of the window.

  6. Select whether you want replies sent to My contacts only or to Anyone outside my organization who sends you messages.


    • 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.

    Out of Office message in Outlook

  7. If you're done, choose OK.

    Or choose Rules on the lower left of the box, and see the next section if you want specific actions to be taken with the incoming email while you're away.

Use rules with Automatic Replies

You can use rules to automatically manage incoming messages by specifying what action Outlook should take while you're away.

For example, you can create rules to automatically move messages to other folders, delete messages, send custom replies, and so on.

  1. Choose Rules > Add Rule.

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

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

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

  5. To specify more conditions, select Advanced and pick the options.

  6. Choose OK when you're' done.

In the example below, any messages from Alex Darrow, that have Training Project in the subject line, and are sent directly to you (Sara in the example), will be forwarded to Molly Dempsy.

Rules for Out of Office

More information

You can use Outlook Web App to set up your Automatic Replies. See Automatic replies for more information.

Applies To: Outlook 2013

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