Create An Automatic Email Response With Gmail’s New Filter

Mark O'Neill 29-11-2008

Today, when I was creating a new email filter to get rid of a tiresome email marketer who won’t take no for an answer, I came across two new filters in Gmail : “send canned response” and “never send it to spam”.  It is the first one that made me realise that I can now set up automatic email responses for specific email addresses.


automatic email response gmail

Let’s say for example that you want to write for us here at MakeUseOf (and why wouldn’t you want to?  We’ll pay you with all the money, beer and fast cars you can handle!  Er, well….no, not really).   So, as editor I go through approximately 7-10 applications a day so over the course of a week, that can stack up quite a bit.   We don’t like to keep people guessing over whether or not we’ve received their application so it’s good to set up a “thank you we have your application, we’ll get back to you soon” auto-responder email which is sent out as soon as their application hits our inbox.

So here’s how you would set it up, using Gmail’s new filter.

    First write your autoresponder message in a blank email window in Gmail.  Then save your message as a “canned response”.  I briefly covered how to do this Save Time with Gmail Email Templates using "Canned Responses" Read More a while back.   You can now discard your email window and go back to your inbox.

    Go to “settings” in the top right hand corner of Gmail, then to the “filters” sub-tab.   Scroll right down to the bottom to “create a new filter”

    This then brings up the “create a filter” section.   This is the important part.   Make sure everything in this section is BLANK except for the “to:” section. In this section, put in the email address that the autoresponder message should acknowledge all replies to.   In this case, I have put our applications email address which means that whenever an email arrives to that address, the autoresponder email will automatically kick in and send itself out. Then click “next step”.

    Create An Automatic Email Response With Gmail's New Filter post4usfilter

    We’re almost done. The last and final screen asks you to “choose an action”.   This is where you tell it to choose the canned response. So….tick “send canned response” and drop down the menu to choose the correct canned response. Then click “create filter”.

    Create An Automatic Email Response With Gmail's New Filter newappacknowledgmentfilter

That is it. Now everytime someone emails an application to that email address, they will get an autoresponder message (or “canned response” as Gmail likes to call them). You can do the same too for your blog, your company, your club, your school and much more. If your inbox is overflowing and people are complaining that your email response times suck, then set up an autoresponder message to at least confirm that “you have received their message and that you’ll get back to them as soon as possible”. OK the email is automatic, it’s impersonal and it’s bland – but hey it’s a response! You won’t even know the email has gone out as it’s all done in the background.

What do you think? Is this something you might find useful to help with your email management or does this just add to the problem?


Explore more about: Email Tips, Gmail.

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  1. Jack
    January 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    The bad thing is, it replies from an address like this: "".
    Do you know if there is a way to remove this?


  2. Aneeta
    March 30, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Does the autoresponder work if you're offline? Or do you need to be logged into your gmail account for it to work?

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 31, 2016 at 11:17 am

      You don't need to be in your account for it to work. It will trigger the autoresponder anytime an email comes in that fits the criteria you've set.

  3. Jorge Sierra
    November 30, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    When I first heard about canned responses, my initial reaction was meh. You still had to go through several clicks to send the canned response. If you ask me, it was more like an empty can sitting next to a response that you have to lift, place into the can, seal the can, and then mail it. The filter functionality is a godsend. I constantly get emails sent to me in error, and I had to set up a more traditional autoresponder to deal with it. It's great that Gmail now has this all built in.

  4. OJay2001
    November 29, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Hmmmm, autoresponders. i love them. They make you feel like your mails get read by someone. Also, it's handy for telling your subscribed newsletters you are on holiday. :) No, seriously, i think it's a feature i am gonna use now that i know bout it. thanks, Mark!
    One thing i'd like to see is, that they should add an option for sending a canned response to any recepient only once. But i'm pretty sure that is just a quesion of time.