How to Setup An Autoresponder in Microsoft Outlook

This article gives you a more in depth description of how to setup an Outlook autoresponder that was suggested in our past article, 7 Amazing Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox.

Setting up the autoresponder is great when the office is busy, or if you’re lucky enough to be going on vacation. It’ll give you more time to reply by letting people know you won’t be able to get to their emails right away but you’ve received them. I’ll also explain how to send out the automatic response to all emails or only specific ones.

Note: if your email is not run by a Microsoft exchange server, the you must leave your computer turned on and Outlook running for the automated replies to be sent. If you’re not sure if your email is setup in this way, ask your IT department. If you don’t have an IT department, then your email isn’t likely setup on an MS Exchange server and you should leave your computer on.

Step 1: Create a message template

  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 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.

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

Do the following:

  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.

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.

How to turn off automatic replies

  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.

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