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Out of Office Auto-Reply in Outlook on the Web

If you will be out of the office (or otherwise away from your email), people who send you messages may wonder why you haven't responded. The Automatic Replies feature lets you create a reply that will be sent once to each person who sends you a message.

This article applies to: Outlook on the Web


Microsoft frequently updates the design of Outlook on the Web, so your version may not match exactly the description given here.

Overview

With the Automatic Replies feature, you can create a reply that will be sent once to each person who sends you a message, and you can choose to include and exclude people based on these categories:

  • Inside My Organization - this category is only those people in the Cornell community who have accounts on Microsoft's Office 365 service. All faculty and staff, and some graduate and professional students, have Office 365 accounts.
    Note: Some faculty, staff, and students are in Cornell departments that run their own email systems. They are not included in the "Inside My Organization" group.
  • External Senders - this category is everyone who isn't "Inside My Organization." Most undergraduates (who use Cmail accounts) fall into this group. The "External" group is broken down into two smaller groups:
    • My Contacts only - only people who (1) are not "inside" but (2) DO have an entry in your Contacts are in this group.
    • Anyone outside - and this is everybody else.
      It is almost always a bad idea to turn on auto-reply for all external senders. See our Using Auto-Reply with the World article for more information.

Notes About How Automatic Replies Work

  • The auto-reply function lives on the Office 365 servers, so you do not need to leave Outlook on the Web running on your computer for it to work. It also means you can start, stop, or change your auto-reply from any version of Outlook.
  • You only have one auto-reply, no matter how many ways you access your account. If you use a non-Exchange client (like Thunderbird or Apple Mail), Outlook on the Web is the only way for you to manage your auto-reply.
  • Your messages will be delivered to you exactly the same way whether you have auto-reply turned on or off.

Turn on Automatic Replies

  1. On the red, Cornell-themed toolbar, click the gear icon, then click Automatic Replies. An Automatic replies pane will open.
  2. To turn on auto-reply, select the second radio button: Send automatic replies. The rest of the controls are grayed out until you select this button.
  3. If you leave Send replies only during this time period UNchecked, auto-reply will begin immediately, and will continue until you come back to this page to turn it off.
    If you check Send replies only during this time period, you can specify the start and end date and time. With this option checked, auto-reply will be turned off automatically at the date and time you specify. (You can also come back to this page to turn it off manually.)
  4. In the first text field (you may see only one text field, and that's okay), enter the body of your auto-reply for people inside your organization (see description above). It's a good idea to indicate when you'll return (or when you'll next check your mail), and to mention that the message they sent was delivered and is waiting for you, so there's no need for them to send it again.
  5. The controls after the first text box determine who, if anyone, outside your organization gets an auto-reply. Given the amount of unsolicited (and possibly unwelcome) email we receive, you might want to think about the options here.
  6. If you leave Send automatic replies to senders outside my organization unchecked, "external senders" (as described at the top of this web page) will not get an auto-reply.
    If you check Send automatic replies to senders outside my organization, you then need to select one of the two radio buttons:
    • Send replies only to senders in my Contact list will generate this auto-reply only if the message came from someone in your personal Contact List.
    • Send replies to all external senders will generate this auto-reply once for every address from which you receive a message.
      It is almost always a bad idea to turn on auto-reply for all external senders. See our Using Auto-Reply with the World article for more information.
  7. If you've chosen to send an auto-reply outside your organization, use the second text box to enter the body of your auto-reply to those people. If you want to use the same text as you used for replies inside your organization, you'll need to copy the text from the Inside text box and paste it here. You can create a different message if you like.
    It's a good idea to indicate when you'll return (or when you'll next check your mail), and to mention that the message they sent was delivered and is waiting for you, so there's no need for them to send it again.
  8. Click OK at the top of the Automatic replies pane when you are finished.

If you did not specify a start and end date and time, remember to come back to the Automatic Replies option upon your return to the office, and turn it off.

The text you enter for your auto-replies will be saved even after you turn this feature off. This is a good thing, because it means that the next time you want to use auto-reply, you won't have to create your message from scratch. Just review and update your text, and turn it back on.

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