Send Out of Office notices with POP3, IMAP, and Outlook.com accounts

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.

If you use a Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 account, you should use the Out of Office Assistant. See Automatically reply to messages with the Out of Office Assistant.

ShowHow can I tell if I have a Microsoft Exchange Server account?

The easiest way to see whether you are using an Exchange Server account is to open your Inbox folder, and then check 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 Out of Office Assistant command is missing, you most likely are not using an Exchange Server account and the Out of Office Assistant is not available. This article provides an alternative method to automatically reply to messages for all e-mail accounts. Go to Step 1: Create a message template.


Without an Exchange Server account, you can combine an Outlook e-mail template with Outlook rules to reproduce the functionality of the Out of Office Assistant available only to Exchange Server account users. By using this combination, you can use your e-mail account to send automated replies to incoming messages.

 Important   You must leave your computer turned on and Outlook running for the automated replies to be sent.

Step 1: Create a message template

 Tip   Download a formal or informal out of office message template from Microsoft Office Online.

  1. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Mail Message.
  2. On the Options tab, in the Format group, click Plain Text.
  3. In the message body, type the message that you want to send as your automated reply.
  4. In the message window, click the Microsoft Office Button Button image and then click Save As.
  5. In the Save As dialog box, in the Save as type list, click Outlook Template (*.oft).
  6. In the File name box, type a name for your message template, and then click Save.

Step 2: Create a rule to automatically reply to new e-mail messages

Do the following:

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

 Tip   Consider creating an Outlook task or to-do reminder to help you remember to turn off this rule when you want to stop sending automatic replies.

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

 Important   For the Rules Wizard to send a reply automatically, Outlook must be running and configured to check periodically for new messages.

Turn off automatic replies

To turn off the rule you created in step 2 above, do the following:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts.
  2. On the E-mail Rules tab, under Name, clear the check box for the rule you want to turn off.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007