Automatically reply to incoming messages with a POP3 or IMAP e-mail account

Applies to
Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003
Microsoft Outlook® 2002

The Out of Office Assistant is a feature available in Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail accounts. If you use an Exchange e-mail account, you can choose to have the Out of Office Assistant automatically notify people who send you an e-mail message that you are unavailable. The Out of Office Assistant is unavailable in Outlook profiles (Outlook e-mail profile: A profile is what Outlook uses to remember the e-mail accounts and the settings that tell Outlook where your e-mail is stored.) without an Exchange e-mail account.

If your profile doesn't include an Exchange e-mail account, you can combine an Outlook e-mail template with Outlook rules to simulate the functionality of the Out of Office Assistant. By using this combination, you can use your POP3 (POP3: A common protocol that is used to retrieve e-mail messages from an Internet e-mail server.) or IMAP (IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol): Unlike Internet e-mail protocols such as POP3, IMAP creates folders on a server to store/organize messages for retrieval by other computers. You can read message headers only and select which messages to download.) e-mail account to send automated replies to incoming messages.

Create a reply message template

  1. Make sure you are not using Microsoft Office Word as the default e-mail editor.

ShowHow?

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Mail Format tab, under Message format, make sure that the Use Microsoft Office Word 2003 to edit e-mail messages check box is not selected. The built-in Outlook e-mail editor should be used as your default e-mail editor.

 Note   If you are using Outlook 2002, make sure that the Use Word to edit e-mail messages check box is not selected.

  1. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Mail Message.
  2. In the message window, on the Format menu, click Plain Text.

 Note   Using HTML or Rich Text format messages might cause problems when sending to recipients whom you have specified in your contacts as plain-text recipients.

When the warning prompt appears, alerting you that you are removing all current formatting, click Yes.

  1. In the message body, type what you want to be sent as your automated reply.
  2. In the message window, on the File menu, click Save As.
  3. In the Save As dialog box, in the Save As Type list, click Outlook Template.
  4. In the File Name box, type a name for your reply template, and then click Save.

Create a rule to automatically reply to new e-mail messages

Do one of the following:

ShowOutlook 2003

  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts.
  2. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, click New Rule.
  3. Click 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. Under What do you want to do with the message?, select the Reply using a specific template check box.
  6. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value), click a specific template.
  7. In the Select a Reply Template dialog box, in the Look In box, click User Templates in File System. Select the template that you created in the previous section, and then click Open.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Optionally, select the check boxes for any exceptions to the auto-reply rule.
  10. Click Next.
  11. Under Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, type a name for the auto-reply rule, and then click Finish.

ShowOutlook 2002

  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules Wizard.
  2. In the Rules Wizard dialog box, click New.
  3. Under Which type of rule do you want to create?, click 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. Under What do you want to do with the message?, select the Reply using a specific template check box.
  6. Under Rule Description, click the underlined phrase, a specific template.
  7. In the Select a Reply Template dialog box, click the template that you created in the previous section, and then click Open.
  8. Complete the Rules Wizard by following the instructions on your screen.

The Rules Wizard rule reply using a specific template sends the automated reply once to each sender during a session. This rule prevents Outlook from sending repetitive replies to a 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 and restart Outlook, the list of which senders have received automated replies is reset.

 Note   Outlook must be running for the Rules Wizard to automatically reply and Outlook must be configured to periodically check for new messages.

 
 
Applies to:
Outlook 2003