Oct
3

Set up out of office auto reply in Outlook 2010 and 2013 (with an Exchange account )

This article will show you how to set up auto reply in Outlook 2013, 2010, 2007 and Outlook 2013 with an Exchange server (Microsoft Exchange 2013, 2010 and 2007 accounts). If you are not sure which email account type you use, you will learn how to quickly find this out.

If you are leaving your office for a while, it is definitely a good idea to set up an out-of-office Outlook auto reply to let your clients and partners know when you are coming back or how they can reach you during your holiday. However, an automatic vacation response is not a solely business feature. You can set it up for your personal Gmail or Outlook.com accounts as well, so that your friends and relatives do not lose sleep wondering where you have gone. And today, my aim is to help you set up your vacation replies.

How to determine the type of your email account(s)

Once you have decided that auto response should be on your pre-vacation preparation checklist, the first thing for you to do is find out which email account you have - Exchange server or Outlook POP/IMAP.

The easiest way is check the type of your email account is to go to the File tab > Info and look under the Account Information.

If you have several accounts, click the tiny black error on the right side to open the drop-down list with all your accounts. Now you can see which account is Microsoft Exchange based and which is POP/IMAP.

Check the type of your email accounts

If you need more detailed information about your accounts (in particular, you may want to check which is the default account), look under the Account Settings.

In Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, switch to the File tab > Info > Account Settings > Account Settings...

A double "Account Settings" above is not a misprint :-) First you click the square button and then choose the Account Settings... command from the drop-down list as shown in the screenshot below (if you do not have an Exchange based email account, this will actually be the only choice available to you).

Look under Account Settings for more information about your email accounts

Clicking the Account Settings... command will open the following window:

The Account settings window

In Outlook 2007, you can open it by going to Tools > Accounts Settings > E-mail.

In Outlook 2003, you can find it under Tools > E-mail Accounts... > View or change existing email accounts > Next.

Now that you know what type of email account you are using, click on the corresponding link and we'll start setting up your automatic reply straight away.

Setting up out-of-office Outlook auto reply for Exchange server accounts

The key advantage of Exchange accounts is that you can configure your Outlook auto reply rule on the server, switch off your computer and the Exchange server will send an automatic response while you are away.

Creating an out-of-office autoreply for Outlook Exchange accounts is easy and takes just 4 steps. The instructions below apply to Outlook 3013 and Outlook 2010 (Microsoft Exchange 2013, 2010 and 2007 accounts).

1. On the Home tab, click Info > Automatic Replies.

Click the Automatic Replies button

Note: If you don't see the "Automatic Replies" option (formally Out of Office Assistant), make sure your Exchange Server account is chosen at the top of the page under "Account Information".

2. Select the "Send automatic replies" check box. If you know exactly for how long you will be away, tick the "Only send during this time range" checkbox and specify the start and end date for your autoresponder. If you don't select the "Only send during this time range" option, your Outlook auto reply will be sent until you select "Do not send automatic replies".

Specify the time period when your automatic out of office replies are sent.

3. On the Inside My Organization tab, enter the message you want to send to your workmates while you are on vacation, and then click OK.

Type the message you want to send to your colleagues while you are away.

4. If you also want to send automatic reply outside your company, switch to the "Outside My Organization" tab, check the "Auto-reply to people outside my organization" check box and type the response that you want to send. Also, choose whether you want out-of-office auto replies to be sent to your contacts only or to anyone who sends you messages by checking the corresponding option, and then click OK.

Configure auto replies for emails outside your organization.

That's it, your Outlook auto reply is set up! Feel free to turn off your computer now and the Exchanger server will inform your senders that you are on vacation and cannot reply. The good thing is that it will send your out of the office response to each sender only once.

Note: By default, an Exchange server is not configured to send automated replies to the Internet. Your administrator needs to enable the option "Allow Automatic Forwarding/Replying to the Internet" if you want to send out of the office replies outside your organization.

This is all for today. In the next article I will show you how to configure automatic vacation replies without using Exchange servers (for POP3/IMAP, Gmail, Outlook.com and Hotmail accounts).

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20 Responses to "Set up out of office auto reply in Outlook 2010 and 2013 (with an Exchange account )"

  1. Great post! Thanks for the read.

  2. Gene Opitz says:

    The default in Outlook 2010 / using
    Exchange Server appears to be "
    Reply ONCE to each sender.
    Is there a way to repeatedly send the message to the same sender
    everytime they send a message.

  3. Alexander says:

    Hi Gene,

    It is not possible to send several autoreplies to the same sender on Outlook Exchanger server accounts.

    Microsoft introduced this limitation deliberately to prevent "endless loops" between two Exchange server accounts if the autoreply option is enabled on both. In this case the two mailboxes would send of-off-office auto responses to each other until the server crashed.

  4. Rob says:

    Is it possible to not send OOO msgs internally from Outlook via the exchange server, but to only send to external emails (contact list or otherwise?)

  5. Alexander says:

    Rob,

    Unfortunately, Exchange Server does not allow sending auto replies only to external emails.

    However, you can configure such out of office reply using Outlook rules, as explained in this article. When creating an autoreply rule, choose this exception "excerpt with specific words in the sender address" and type "@yourdomain.com".

  6. fiona says:

    What if I don't have Exchange Server account ?
    can I set the auto reply function in my pop/smtp account

  7. shashi says:

    Tons of thanks for this by describing in a very simple manner along with the screenshots.

  8. Luigi says:

    What about multiple data entry. Can I manage more vacation period at same time in Outlook?
    Thanks
    Luigi

  9. Jo says:

    I have outlook 2007 and for some reason it will only send the automatic replies when I go back and open outlook. I have successfully set this up before but for the last two times for some reason this problem has occurred

    • Alexander says:

      Hello Jo,

      If you configure Out of Office for an Exchange account, then you'd better ask your system administrator what can be the cause of the problem. If you set up an automatic reply for a pop3/imap account, then your Outlook should always be running to send the replies.

  10. Steve says:

    Getting a dialog box saying server is unavailable and cannot set up the auto reply? What gives?

  11. Israel says:

    I have a POP/SMTP account but can not find the tab for auto replies, I looked everywhere. even went thru the steps you provided, but to no avail. I am wondering how to rectify this issue?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dam waste tool. It is not at all user friendly

  13. Peter says:

    Hi,
    When i try to access the "Automatic Replies" function I get the following message:
    "Your automatic reply settings cannot be displayed because the server is currently unavailable.Try again later." How can I resolve this?

    I am using Microsoft Exchange

    Regards

    • Alexander says:

      Hello Peter,

      Please try once again. If you get the same error message, you'd better contact the administrator of the server. Sorry, we can't say for sure what is the cause the problem.

  14. Eran says:

    Hi
    thanks for the above.

    1.Can I define different auto-response according to given timetabl?
    from 8.-17 "response A" & from 17 further "response B".

    2.In case I open 2 mailboxes in a single Outlook cleint,can I define 2 different auto-response messages?

    Regards
    Eran

  15. Martin N says:

    Hi Alexander,

    I want to ask something. I saw a some sort of out of office msg when typing my colleague's name in the To: bar, and i was denied sending my email to him. I was searching for some tips and tutorials for doing this, but unfortunately i found none.

    To be more precise: do u know how to display a message when someone from my organization enters my mail address so that he/she knows that i'm out of office/temporarily unavailable and prevents sending the same msg to me?

    Your tutorial of sending an automatic reply back email was very helpful, but its not what i'm looking for.

    All the best,
    Martin

  16. Judi says:

    Hi Alexander,
    Is there a way to insert a .jpg file within the auto-response text? I would like to insert my company logo, but can't figure out how.
    Thanks,
    Judi

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