Send Out of Office notices automatically with an Exchange account

You can set up Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 to send an automatic response to some or all of the people who send you e-mail messages.

 Important   The Out of Office Assistant command only appears on the Tools menu when you are using a Microsoft Exchange Server account. If you are using an Exchange Server account, click in the Inbox folder, and then the Out of Office Assistant command does not appear on the Tools menu, we encourage you to contact a Microsoft support professional for assistance. An alternative method to automatically reply to messages is available for all Outlook users. Go to Automatically reply to messages.

ShowHow can I tell if I have an Exchange Server account?

The easiest way to see whether you are using an Exchange Server account is to open your Inbox folder, and then see whether there is an Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu. If shown, click the expand button Expand button at the bottom of the menu so that all of the commands on the Tools menu are displayed.

Out of Office command on Tools menu

If the command is missing, you most likely are not using an Exchange Server account and the Out of Office Assistant is not available. An alternative method to automatically reply to messages is available. Go to Automatically reply to messages.

 Note   The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as e-mail messages, contacts, or tasks.


What do you want to do?


Turn on or off the Out of Office Assistant

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 accounts

If you are not sure which version of Exchange Server your account uses, go to Identify which version of Exchange Server my account uses.

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

Out of Office command on Tools menu

 Note   The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The main window is the same window that appears when you start Outlook and includes the File, Edit, View, Go, Tools, Actions, and Help menus. There is no Tools menu in windows where you create or view items such as e-mail messages, contacts, or tasks.

If the Out of Office Assistant command does not appear, an alternative method to automatically reply to messages is available for all Outlook users. Go to Automatically reply to messages.

  1. Click Send Out of Office auto-replies.
  2. If you want, select the Only send during this time range check box to schedule when your out of office replies are active. If you do not specify a start and end time, auto-replies will be sent until you click Do not send Out of Office auto-replies.
  3. On the Inside My Organization tab, type the response that you want to send while you are out of the office.

To send auto-replies to people out of your organization, continue with steps 4 and 5.

  1. On the Outside My Organization tab, select the Auto-reply to people outside my organization check box, and then type the response that you want to send while you are out of the office.

 Note   Organization is usually defined as your company and includes people who have an Exchange Server account on your e-mail system.

When the Auto-reply to people outside my organization check box is selected, the Outside My Organization tab displays (On) next to the tab name.

  1. On the Outside My Organization tab, click My Contacts only or Anyone outside my organization to specify the people to whom auto-replies are to be sent.

 Note   The contact must exist in your Exchange Server Contacts folder. If the contact exists only in a folder that is a part of a Personal Folders file (.pst), the auto-reply message will not be sent.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 accounts

If you are not sure which version of Exchange Server your account uses, go to Identify which version of Exchange Server my account uses.

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

Out of Office command on Tools menu

 Note   The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as e-mail messages, contacts, or tasks.

If the Out of Office Assistant command does not appear, an alternative method to automatically reply to messages is available for all Outlook users. Go to Automatically reply to messages.

  1. Click I am currently Out of the Office.
  2. In the AutoReply only once to each sender with the following text box, type the message that you want to send to other people while you are out.

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Use rules with the Out of Office Assistant

If you are not going to check e-mail messages while you are out of the office, use the Out of Office Assistant with rules to automatically manage incoming messages by specifying what action Outlook should take with them. For example, you can create rules to automatically move or copy messages to other folders, to delete messages, to send custom replies, and so on.

If you create rules, it is important to understand how they are applied in Outlook:

  • Rules are applied in the order in which they appear from top to bottom in the list of rules.
  • If you select more than one condition in the Edit Rule dialog box, the rule will be applied only to messages that meet all of the selected conditions. For example, if you specify Judy Lew as the sender (condition) and "Marketing Meeting" (condition) in the Subject box, the rule is applied only to messages that meet both conditions.
  • However, if you set multiple criteria for a single condition, the rule will be applied to any message that meets at least one criterion for that condition. For example, if you specify "Judy Lew;Frank Lee" in the From box, the rule is applied to messages from either Judy Lew or Frank Lee.
  1. On the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

Out of Office command on Tools menu

 Note   The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as e-mail messages, contacts, or tasks.

  1. Click Rules.

 Note   If you are using an Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2000 account, click Add Rule instead. If you are not sure which version of Exchange Server your account uses, go to Identify which version of Exchange Server my account uses.

  1. Under When a message arrives that meets the following conditions, specify the conditions that the message must meet for the rule to be applied.
  2. If you want to specify more conditions, click Advanced, select the options that you want, and then click OK.
  3. If you want to specify that this rule must be applied last, select the Do not process subsequent rules check box.
  4. Under Perform these actions, select the actions that you want. You can select more than one action.

 Note   If you specify that a message must be deleted, rules that follow the delete rule in the list of rules in the Out of Office Assistant dialog box do not affect the message.

Edit rules used with the Out of Office Assistant

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

Out of Office command on Tools menu

 Note   The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as e-mail messages, contacts, or tasks.

  1. To edit the rules, do any of the following:
  • Change a specific rule    
  1. Click Rules, select the rule, and then click Edit Rule.

 Note   If you are using an Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2000 account, first click select the rule, and then click Edit Rule.

  1. Make changes to the conditions and actions for the rule.
  • Change the order in which rules are applied to incoming messages    
  1. Under These rules will be applied to incoming messages while you are out of the office, click the rule that you want to move up or down in the list.
  2. Click Move Up or Move Down.
  • Delete a rule    
  1. Under These rules will be applied to incoming messages while you are out of the office, click the rule that you want to delete.
  2. Click Delete Rule.

Turn on or off rules used with the Out of Office Assistant

  1. To turn the out of office rules on or off, on the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.

Out of Office command on Tools menu

 Note   The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as e-mail messages, contacts, or tasks.

  1. Click Rules.

 Note   If you are using an Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2000 account, go to the next step. There is no Rules button.

  1. In the Status column, select or clear the check box next to the rule that you want to turn on or off.

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Identify which version of Exchange Server my account uses

If there is an Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu, and when you click it you see the following dialog box, you have an account on Exchange 2007.

 Note   The Tools menu appears on the main Outlook window. The Tools menu is not available in windows where you create or view items such as e-mail messages, contacts, or tasks.

Out of Office Assistant dialog box

If there is an Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu, and when you click the command you see the following dialog box, you have an account on Exchange Server 2003 or earlier.

Out of Office Assistant dialog box

If there is no Out of Office Assistant command on the Tools menu, most likely you do not have an Exchange Server account. However, you can approximate most of the Out of Office Assistant behavior by using rules. To learn how, go to Automatically reply to messages for more information.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007