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Remember how you were greeted with a tsunami of email messages when you came back from vacation? You probably forgot to set an “Out of Office” message in your Microsoft Outlook before you stepped out the door.
Yes, it’s not a solution to a flooded inbox, but it does notify your contacts with an orange light that you are away and there’s a reason why you won’t be able to respond in a timely manner. Your contacts can then follow up without crowding your inbox.
You should set one up right now, along with canned messages and a professional email signature, to save yourself time in the future. It will only take you a few minutes in Outlook.
How to Set Up Automatic Replies in Outlook
Using the automatic reply is easy when you are working with an Office 365, Outlook.com (which used to be called Hotmail), or Exchange account:
- Select File > Automatic Replies.
- In the Automatic Replies box, select Send automatic replies.
- Set a time range for the Automatic Replies. The start and end time allow you to schedule the messages and cover the time you will be away from your email. You also don’t have to remember to shut it off when you come back.
- Use the Inside My Organization tab to write a message for people on your team or in your company.
- Use the Outside My Organization tab to write a message for any mail that comes from outside your company or team contact list.
- Compose and format the out-of-office message.
- Click OK to save your settings.
When Outlook is set up to send automatic replies, you’ll see a message under the ribbon that alerts you about it. Select Turn off to disable automatic out-of-office replies for that email.
Come back from your break and to the same dialog box to turn off the automatic replies.
The process is more complicated if you use a third-party POP or IMAP email service like Gmail or Yahoo with Outlook. You will need to set up an Outlook rule and fire a template file for sending the message. We’ll have to leave that for another tutorial, unfortunately.