How To Create an Email Autoresponder in Outlook

With Labor Day right around the corner people across the country will use the long weekend for one last summer hurrah before the autumn (and the cold) begins to set in. I myself will be heading down to North Carolina for a few days to make the most of what’s left of the season, and when I do, I’ll be setting up and email autoresponder to let people know I am on vacation.

An email autoresponder is an automatic reply system you can set up within your email client to send messages on your behalf when you aren’t available. This can be a helpful tool for letting people know that you have limited access to your inbox, or you simply want to let them know that you received their message and you will respond shortly (in the case of a “sales” or “info” address). In this post, I’ll show you how you can set one up in Microsoft Outlook. Please note that while I am using the 2016 version on Windows, this will work on previous iterations for both Mac and PC. The only things you need to know if your email is hosted via Exchange or POP/IMAP.

Setting Up Your Autoresponder with Exchange

  1. Start by going into the File tab of Outlook and selecting the Info option on the left
  2. Select Automatic Replies

  3. A window will pop up in which you can specify the following:
    1. The dates you want the auto reply to be in effect for
    2. Whether or not you want it to apply for your organization or people outside of it
    3. The message itself
    4. Any rules you wish to apply to the autorespond

    Below, see an example auto reply that I am setting up for myself, as well as the window that pops up for defining rules.

  4. Click OK, and your autoresponder will be set!

Setting Up Your Autoresponder with POP or IMAP

Without an Exchange server configured for routing autoreplies, setting one up on POP or IMAP is a bit more complex.

  1. Open a blank email and fill it out with the information you would like to include in your automatic reply, this includes
    1. Subject Line
    2. Email Content
    3. Any individuals you would like CC’d or BCC’d in your response
  2. Once the email is filled out, hit File and Save As
  3. Save the email file as an Outlook Template

    Next, you will need to set up rules in which your template can be sent automatically

  4. Select File and then Info in the Outlook Client
  5. Click on the Rules and Alerts tile

  6. In the window that pops up, select New Rule… in the top right.
  7. A Rules Wizard tool will open where you can define the trigger for your new rule, select Apply rule on messages I receive under the Start from a blank rule section of available options
  8. In the next page of the tool, check the “where my name is in the To or CC box” option. You may also select other criteria as can be seen below:

  9. Click Next >

  10. In the next page check the “Reply using specific template” box and click the link that comes up in the Step 2 box, as can be seen below:

  11. A window will pop up in which you can select the template you will use as your auto reply. If the template you created is not immediately visible, locate it in the file system where you saved it by selecting Browse…

  12. Click Open

  13. Click Next > in the Rules Wizard

  14. Choose any exceptions you would like for this rule, such as if the message you receive is from a member or your company or contains a certain word, and click Next >

  15. Name the Rule and choose if you would like to use it on any messages currently in your inbox or activate it.

  16. Click Finish

And there you have it! Both of these guides will have you sending auto replies in no time! You won’t have to worry about all your senders wondering why you aren’t getting back to them. So go on vacation carefree, and enjoy it!


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