Send automatic Out of Office replies from Outlook 2007

Important: Some of the content in this article might not apply to some languages.

You can set up Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 to send an automatic response to some or all of the people who send you email messages.

If you have an Exchange Server account, you can use the Out of Office Assistant to set up your automatic responses. Go to I have an Exchange Server account. (The Out of Office Assistant command only appears on the Tools menu if you are using a Microsoft Exchange Server account.) An alternative method for automatically replying to messages is available for all Outlook users. Go to I have an Outlook.com, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! or other POP3 or IMAP account. If you're not sure which type of account you have, go to I'm not sure what kind of account I have.

Note: In the following sections, click the expanders > to see the content.

I have an Exchange Server account

If you have an Exchange Server account, you use slightly different procedures to turn the Out of Office Assistant 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 Find out which version of Exchange Server your account uses.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

    Out of Office Assistant command on Tools menu

    Note: The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The main window is the same window that appears when you start Outlook and includes the File, Edit, View, Go, Tools, Actions, and Help menus. There is no Tools menu in windows where you create or view items such as email messages, contacts, or tasks.

    If the Out of Office Assistant command does not appear, an alternative method to automatically reply to messages is available for all Outlook users. Go to If you are using a POP3, IMAP, or Outlook.com account.

  2. Click Send Out of Office auto-replies.

  3. 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 do not specify a start and end time, auto-replies will be sent until you click Do not send Out of Office auto-replies.

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

    To send auto-replies to people out of your organization, continue with steps 4 and 5.

  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 while you are out of the office.

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

    When the Auto-reply to people outside my organization check box is selected, the Outside My Organization tab displays (On) next to the tab name.

  6. On the Outside My Organization tab, click My Contacts only or Anyone outside my organization to specify the people to whom auto-replies are to be sent.

    Note: The contact must exist in your Exchange Server Contacts folder. If the contact exists only in a folder that is a part of a Personal Folders file (.pst), the auto-reply message will not be sent.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

    Out of Office Assistant command on Tools menu

    Note: The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as email messages, contacts, or tasks.

    If the Out of Office Assistant command does not appear, an alternative method to automatically reply to messages is available for all Outlook users. Go to If you are using a POP3, IMAP, or Outlook.com account.

  2. Click I am currently Out of the Office.

  3. 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.

If you are not going to check email messages while you are out of the office, use the Out of Office Assistant with rules 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.

If you create rules, it is important to understand how they are applied in Outlook:

  • Out of Office rules are applied only when the Out of Office Assistant command is turned on.

  • Rules are applied in the order in which they appear from top to bottom in the list of rules.

  • If you select more than one condition in the Edit Rule dialog box, the rule will be applied only to messages that meet all of the selected conditions. For example, if you specify Judy Lew as the sender (condition) and "Marketing Meeting" (condition) in the Subject box, the rule is applied only to messages that meet both conditions.

  • However, if you set multiple criteria for a single condition, the rule will be applied to any message that meets at least one criterion for that condition. For example, if you specify "Judy Lew;Frank Lee" in the From box, the rule is applied to messages from either Judy Lew or Frank Lee.

To create Out of Office Assistant rules

  1. On the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

    Out of Office Assistant command on Tools menu

    Note: The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as email messages, contacts, or tasks.

  2. Click Rules.

    Note: If you are using an Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2000 account, click Add Rule instead. If you are not sure which version of Exchange Server your account uses, go to Find out which version of Exchange Server your account uses.

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

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

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

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

    Note: If you specify that a message must be deleted, rules that follow the delete rule in the list of rules in the Out of Office Assistant dialog box do not affect the message.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

    Out of Office Assistant command on Tools menu

    Note: The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as email messages, contacts, or tasks.

    Tip: You can view the Out of Office Assistant rules for all Microsoft Outlook profiles by selecting the Show rules for all profiles check box.

  2. To edit the rules, do any of the following:

    Change a specific rule    

    1. Click Rules, select the rule, and then click Edit Rule.

      Note: If you are using an Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2000 account, first click select the rule, and then click Edit Rule.

    2. Make changes to the conditions and actions for the rule.

    Change the order in which rules are applied to incoming messages    

    1. Under These rules will be applied to incoming messages while you are out of the office, click the rule that you want to move up or down in the list.

    2. Click Move Up or Move Down.

    Delete a rule    

    1. Under These rules will be applied to incoming messages while you are out of the office, click the rule that you want to delete.

    2. Click Delete Rule.

  1. To turn the out of office rules on or off, on the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

    Out of Office Assistant command on Tools menu

    Note: The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as email messages, contacts, or tasks.

  2. Click the Rules button at the top of the dialog box.

    Note: If you are using an Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2000 account, go to the next step. There is no Rules button.

  3. In the Status column, select or clear the check box next to the rule that you want to turn on or off.

If there is an Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu, and when you click it you see the following dialog box, you have an account on Exchange 2007.

Note: The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as email messages, contacts, or tasks.

Out of Office Assistant dialog box

If there is an Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu, and when you click the command you see the following dialog box, you have an account on Exchange Server 2003 or earlier.

Out of Office Assistant dialog box

If there is no Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu, most likely you do not have an Exchange Server account. However, you can approximate most of the Out of Office Assistant behavior by using rules. To learn how, go to If you are using a POP3, IMAP, or Outlook.com account for more information.

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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 Out of Office Assistant, which is available only to Exchange Server account users. By using this combination, you can use your email account to send automated replies to incoming messages.

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

  1. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Mail Message.

  2. On the Options tab, in the Format group, click Plain Text.

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

  4. In the message window, click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image and then click Save As.

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

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

Go to Step 2: Create a rule to automatically reply to new e-mail messages.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts.

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

  3. Under Start from a blank rule, click Check messages when they arrive, and then click Next.

  4. Under Which condition(s) do you want to check?, select the sent only to me check box and any other criteria that you want, and then click Next.

  5. When you see a dialog box informing you that this rule will be applied to every message that you receive, click Yes.

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

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

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

  9. Select the template that you created in the previous section, and then click Open.

  10. Click Next.

  11. Optionally, select the check boxes for any exceptions to the auto-reply rule.

  12. Click Next.

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

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.

The reply using a specific template rule in the Rules Wizard sends your automated reply only once to each sender during a single session. 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 Outlook and then restart it, however, the list of the senders who have received automated replies is reset.

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

To turn off the rule you created in step 2 above, do the following:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts.

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

I'm not sure what kind of account I have

The easiest way to find out whether you are using an Exchange Server account is to open your Inbox folder, and then see if there is an Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu. If you see an expand button Button image at the bottom of the menu, click it so that all of the commands on the Tools menu are displayed.

Out of Office Assistant command on Tools menu

If the command is missing, you most likely are not using an Exchange Server account and the Out of Office Assistant is not available. An alternative method to automatically reply to messages is available. Go to I have a POP3, IMAP, or Outlook.com account.

Note: The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as email messages, contacts, or tasks.

If you know that you are using an Exchange Server account but the Out of Office Assistant command does not appear on the Tools menu, we encourage you to contact a Microsoft support professional for assistance.

See Also

What's new in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

Use the Outlook 2007 calendar to show time away from the office

Determine the version of Microsoft Exchange Server my account connects to

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