Set Up Email Auto Replies in Outlook 2013 and 2016

It’s time for vacation. You’ve earned it, and this year, you’re going somewhere nice. Vacation is over. You dread coming back to work and finding a stack of unanswered emails in your inbox. Pushback against that sense of impending doom by setting your out-of-office replies in Outlook. Follow along and I’ll show you how.

Open your Outlook email program, you must login Hotmail or Outlook before (you can learn how to login here). Left-click on the File tab at the top of the screen. Left-click the Automatic Replies button.

The default is set to “Do not send automatic replies”. Click the “Send automatic replies” option.

To send the replies, only during a specific time range, check the “Only send during this time range” option.

Then, set your start time and date, followed by an end time and date.

Next, compose your message in the “Inside My Organization” tab.

You can change the font, font-size, color, and other options for this message. This message will be sent to anyone who is part of your organization’s domain.

If you would like to send auto-replies to senders outside your organization, click on the Outside My Organization tab.

Click the “Auto-reply to people outside my organization”.

Choose whether to send auto-replies to only your contacts, or to everyone outside your organization who sends you an email by clicking the appropriate option.

Compose your message for the “Outside My Organization” tab.

Now that you’re done setting up auto-replies, let’s take a look at the Rules… option. These rules allow you to specify actions on incoming messages while you are out of the office.

Left-click the Rules… button. Click “Add Rule…”.

From the Edit Rule window, you can set a variety of options that incoming messages must meet before a rule is applied.

  • From: specify a sender’s email address to act upon by clicking the button or typing the address in the field.
  • Sent to…: If the email is sent to someone else as well as you, you can specify their email address here.
  • Sent directly to me: check this option to auto-reply when email is sent directly to you.
  • Copied (Cc) to me: check this option to auto-reply if you are on the Cc: line of a sender’s email.
  • Subject: specify that email must contain a specific subject before you auto-reply.
  • Message body: specify that the email must contain a specific message before you auto-reply.
  • Do not process subsequent rules: tell Outlook to stop applying rules to the message after this one.
  • Advanced: specify additional conditions an email must meet such as size, date received, importance, sensitivity, the presence of an attachment, or exclusion based on matched criteria.

Once you’ve specified the criteria an incoming message must meet to have rules applied, we need to tell Outlook what to do with these filtered messages. You can perform the following actions.

  • Alert with: which shows a text message or plays a sound that appears on your computer screen.
  • Delete: to send the incoming email straight to the trash.
  • Move to: filters the incoming message to a specific folder.
  • Copy to: copies the incoming message to a specific folder but also leaves it in your general inbox.
  • Forward: forward the incoming message to another person or people. You can leave forwarded messages as they are, or include them as an attachment in another email.
  • Reply with: you can set up a custom email template to reply with that differs from the message that we set up earlier or
  • Custom: if you have installed third-party add-ins with custom actions, you can select them here.

Once you’ve created the applied actions for your incoming message, click “OK” to go back to the rule management window.

You can rearrange the rules in the order you want them to run, with the top-most rule running first.

When you’re done organizing your rules, click “OK” to go back to the automatic replies main window.

Once you’re satisfied with your setup, click “OK”.

That’s it.

Go enjoy your vacation. Leave the world of work behind for a while. Enjoy the good things in life.

Do me a favor: if you got something out of this, share it with someone else who might find it useful. You can bookmark my website, as I promise to keep putting out new information all the time. As always, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.