Send Out of Office notices with POP3, IMAP, and accounts

Note:  If you use a Microsoft Exchange Server account in Microsoft Outlook 2010, use the Automatic Replies feature. See Automatically reply to messages (formerly the Out of Office Assistant). This article is for all other email account types, such as (formerly Hotmail), POP3, and IMAP.

How can I tell if I am using a Microsoft Exchange Server account?

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. If Microsoft Exchange doesn’t appear, you are not using an Exchange Server account.

Example of an Exchange Account in the Account Settings dialog box

You can set up Outlook 2010 to send an automatic response to some or all of the people who send you email messages.

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:  This functionality is available in Outlook 2010 beginning with Microsoft Office 2010 Service Pack 1.

Step 1: Create a message template

  1. On the Home tab, in the New group, 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.

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Step 2: Create a rule to automatically reply to new email messages

Do one of the following:

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

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

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

  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.

  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.

  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.

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.

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Turn off 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.

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See Also

Send Out of Office notices automatically with an Exchange account

Send Automatic Replies when you're away

Manage email messages by using rules

What's new in Microsoft Outlook 2010

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