If you are absent from the workplace for a long time (business trip, vacation) and can’t check email, you can configure Outlook 2016 to automatically reply to all incoming emails. Thereby you can notify partners, colleagues and friends about your absence in the office. This feature in Outlook is called Out of Office (OOF) and is supported for all Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 users and accounts on Outlook.com.
The Out-of-Office message is a small message with which your server will respond to all incoming emails (once for each sender), until the automatic reply will be turned off.
You can set up an automatic response in Outlook as follows:
- Run the Outlook 2016;
- Select File > Automatic Replies (Out of Office);
- Select the option Send automatic replies, enable Only send during this time range, set the start and end time for automatic replies. If you won’t specify a date, automatic replies will be sent until OOF is disabled manually;
- On the “Inside My organization” tab, specify the message that will be sent to internal users in your Exchange organization. As a rule, the message should indicate the contacts of the person with whom your partners can contact for urgent questions;
- On the tab Outside My organization you need to specify the auto reply text for external users. Here you can choose whether the auto answer will be sent to people from your contact list, or for everyone;
- Click OK, then in response to all incoming email your out-of-office messages will be sent.
If you send an email to a user with Out of Office enabled, you will receive the following Automatic reply message:
To disable auto replies in Outlook, just select the option Do not send automatic replies in the File menu.
In addition, the user can enable and disable out-of-office feature using the OWA (Outlook Web Access) web interface. Open OWA > click the Options menu > select Automatic replies.
Enable auto answer by selecting Send automatic replies, select the start and end date and specify the reply message. Save your changes by clicking OK.
An Exchange/Office 365 administrator can configure OOF for a specific mailbox using the PowerShell (Exchange Management Shell) cmdlet Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration. This cmdlet is supported in Exchange Server 2016, 2013 and 2010. To schedule OOF for a sarad mailbox, run the command:
Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration -Identity email@example.com –AutoReplyState Scheduled –StartTime “10/10/2018” –EndTime “10/28/2018” –ExternalMessage “I am on vacation until 10/28/2018, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org” -InternalMessage “I am on vacation until 10/28/2018, please contact email@example.com”
To list the current auto reply settings for the specified mailbox, run:
To disable auto reply using PowerShell, run:
Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration firstname.lastname@example.org –AutoReplyState Disabled –ExternalMessage $null –InternalMessage $null
If you want to configure automatic response more flexibly, you need to use Outlook rules (Exchange server-side rules). With their help, you can create several rules so that Outlook responds to different senders with different reply templates.