Office Tips - Out Of Office Email Reply | Chilliwack & Fraser Valley Tech Support

Spring has sprung, and, as the long winter finally releases its choke-hold, everyone’s attentions start to wander towards vacation-time! We know this to be true, since the most popular question our clients have asked us, this month, is “how do I set up my email to do that Out Of Office reply?”.

So, here are some answers for you. (I say “some” because it completely depends on what version of Outlook you are running)…

Outlook on Microsoft Exchange

If you are part of a bigger organization, chances are that you are on Microsoft Exchange. This means your Out of Office Reply is pretty easy to find!

For Microsoft Office Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010 and Outlook for Office 365

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  1. Click the File tab, and then click the Info tab in the menu.

  2. You will see an option saying “Automatic Replies (Out of Office)”

  3. Click that option, and then just pick the appropriate dates/message etc, followed by OK.

  4. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your time off!

For Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

  1. On the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

  2. In the Out of Office Assistant dialog box, select the Send Out of Office auto-replies check box.

  3. Fill out the options you want

  4. Click OK.

  5. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your time off!

For Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

  1. On the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

  2. In the Out of Office Assistant dialog box, click I am currently Out of the Office.

  3. In the AutoReply only once to each sender with the following text box, type the message that you want to send while you are out of the office, and then click OK.

  4. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your time off!

  5. When you get back, repeat step 1 and select the “I am currently In the Office” option.


Outlook NOT on Microsoft Exchange

Now, that sounds fun and easy… BUT what if you are not on Exchange? Unfortunately, this feature is not available on non-Exchange accounts, such as (formerly Hotmail), POP3, IMAP etc.

There is, however, a work around! You can combine an Outlook email template with Outlook rules to give the same kind-of result as this Out of Office feature. (It does mean that you must leave Outlook running while you are away though.)


First… you need to create your message template.

  1. In Outlook, create a new email message.

  2. Enter a subject and message body for your out-of-office template.

  3. Create a template for your out of office replies.

  4. Select File > Save As.

  5. Give your template a name and in the Save as type drop-down, select Outlook Template (*.oft).

  6. You can change the location for your template, but you can also pick the default location, which is usually c:\users\username\appdata\roaming\microsoft\templates. Click Save.

  7. You can create a new template every time you're out of the office or reuse an existing template. Now you're ready to use that template to create your Out of Office rule.


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Next, you create an out-of-office rule

  1. Go to File > Click Manage Rules & Alerts.

  2. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, on the E-mail Rules tab, click New Rule.

  3. Create a new rule.

  4. Under Start from a blank rule, click Apply rule on messages I receive and click Next.

  5. To reply to every email message you receive, leave the Step 1 and Step 2 boxes unchanged and click Next again. Select Yes when Outlook asks you if you want to apply this rule to all messages.

  6. Under What do you want to do with the message, in Step 1: Select action(s), select reply using a specific template.

  7. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click the underlined text for a specific template.

  8. In the Look In box at the top of the Select a Reply Template box, select User Templates in File System.

  9. Select the template you created above, and then select Open and Next.

  10. You can add any necessary exceptions, then select Next.

  11. Give your rule a name, e.g. Out of Office.

  12. By default, Turn on this rule is checked. If you're ready to turn on your out of office reply now, select Finish. Otherwise, uncheck this box. (You can turn the rule on at a later date… but don’t forget!)

  13. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your time off

So… that should cover you. Enjoy your vacation, and send us a postcard!

Photo by  Simon Migaj  on  Unsplash

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash