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ARCHIVED: In Microsoft Outlook, how do I set up the Out of Office Assistant (vacation mail)?

Note: These instructions apply only to desktop Outlook clients that are configured to work with the Exchange email servers at Indiana University.

In Microsoft Outlook, you can set the Out of Office Assistant to automatically reply to people who send you mail, letting them know you won't be able to reply to them immediately. The AutoReply feature will notify each sender only once, even if that person sends you several messages.

Note: Enabling your Out of Office reply can have the unfortunate side effect of verifying your email address to every spammer who sends you spam while you are away. If you are using Outlook 2010 or 2007, you can reduce this risk by enabling automatic replies only for people inside your organization, or by choosing My Contacts only on the Outside My Organization tab. If you are using Outlook 2003 or earlier, you may want to think twice about enabling this function, or consider the forwarding option detailed below.

To set up the Out of Office Assistant, follow the instructions below for your version of Outlook.

On this page:


Outlook 2010 and 2007

  1. In Outlook 2010, from the File tab in the upper left, select Automatic Replies.

    In Outlook 2007, from the Tools menu, select Out of Office Assistant... . Then, select Send Out of Office auto-replies.

  2. To set a time range for auto-replies, click Only send during this time range: . This lets you set up your Out of Office replies in advance of your actual absence.

  3. In the "AutoReply only once to each sender with the following messages:" field, enter your away message.

Outlook 2010 and 2007 have separate settings for email addresses inside and outside your organization. To send an Out of Office reply to people outside IU:

  1. Click the Outside My Organization tab.

  2. Select Auto-reply to people outside my organization.

  3. Choose who will receive an auto-reply by selecting either My Contacts only or Anyone outside my organization.

  4. Enter or edit the message to go to external contacts in the text field, as necessary.

Forwarding mail or moving it to a different folder

Optionally, you can add a rule to forward your mail to a different address or to move it to another folder. To set up a forwarding address:

  1. In the lower left corner of the Out of Office Assistant, click Rules... .

  2. Click Add Rule... , and then check the box marked Forward.

  3. In the To... field, enter your forwarding address. Do not enter your normal delivery address for your forward rule, or you will create a mail loop.

  4. From the menu next to "Method:", choose how you want to receive your mail.

To direct incoming mail to a specific folder:

  1. In the lower left corner of the Out of Office Assistant, click Rules... .

  2. Click Add Rule... , and then select the box marked Move to.

  3. Click Folder... to browse for the folder you want to use.

  4. Select the folder name, and then click OK.

After making your selections for forwarding and routing incoming mail, click OK until all windows in the Out of Office Assistant are closed.

Outlook 2003 and earlier

  1. From the Tools menu, select Out of Office Assistant... .

  2. Select I am currently Out of the Office.

  3. In the "AutoReply only once to each sender with the following text:" field, enter your away message.

Forwarding mail or moving it to a different folder

Optionally, you can add a rule to forward your mail to a different address or to move it to another folder. To set up a forwarding address:

  1. Click Add Rule... , and then check the box marked Forward.

  2. In the To... field, enter your forwarding address. Do not enter your normal delivery address for your forward rule, or you will create a mail loop.

  3. From the menu next to "Method:", choose how you want to receive your mail.

To direct incoming mail to a specific folder:

  1. Click Add Rule... , and then select Move to.

  2. Click Folder... to browse for the folder you want to use.

  3. Select the folder name and click OK.

After making your selections for forwarding and routing incoming mail, click OK until all windows in the Out of Office Assistant are closed.

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Last modified on November 16, 2012.

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