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Out of Office Auto-Reply in Outlook 2013 for Windows

This article applies to: Outlook 2013 for Windows

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. Outlook's Out of Office assistant lets you create a reply that will be sent once to each person who sends you a message. You can choose to include and exclude people who fall into three categories:

  • Inside My Organization - this category is only those people who have accounts on CIT's Exchange server, including most faculty and staff, retirees, and graduate and professional students.
    Note: People in colleges and units that manage their own email servers will never be "Inside."
  • Outside My Organization - this category is everyone who isn't inside. Most undergraduates (who use Cmail accounts) fall into this group. The "Outside" group is broken down into two smaller groups:
    • My Contacts only - only people who (1) are not "inside" and (2) have an entry in your Contacts are in this group.
    • Anyone outside - and this is everybody else.

The auto-reply function lives on the Exchange server, so you do not need to leave Outlook running on your computer for it to work.

Your messages will be delivered to you exactly the same way whether you have auto-reply turned on or off.

You can also set this up from any computer through Outlook on the Web, the browser-based version of Outlook.

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. If you have more than one account listed in the Navigation Pane on the left (for example, your own account and your manager's account or a Resource Account), click the name of the account for which you want to set up an auto-reply.
  3. Click the File tab.
    If you work with more than one account, make sure the desired account is listed just under Account Information at the top of the window.
  4. Click Automatic Replies. An Automatic Replies dialog box will open.
  5. 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.
  6. If you leave Only send during this time range UNchecked, auto-reply will begin as soon as you finish filling out this dialog box, and will continue until you come back to this dialog box and turn it off.
    If you check Only send during this time range, 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.
  7. On the Inside My Organization tab is a text box where you enter the body of your auto-reply. It's a good idea to indicate when you'll return (or when you'll next check your mail), and to mention that all messages sent to you ARE being delivered, so there's no need to send them again.
  8. On the Outside My Organization tab are controls for determining who, if anyone, outside your organization gets an auto-reply.
  9. If you leave Auto-reply to people outside my organization UNchecked, people "outside" (as defined at the top of this web page) will not receive an auto-reply.
    If you check Auto-reply to people outside my organization, you then need to select one of the two radio buttons:
    • My Contacts only will generate this auto-reply only if the message came from someone in your personal Contact List (My Contacts).
    • Anyone outside my organization will generate this auto-reply once for every address from which you receive a message. Given the amount of unsolicited (and possibly unwelcome) email we receive, you recommend that you NOT choose the "Anyone" option.
      (Why do we not recommend the Anyone option?)
  10. If you've chosen to send an auto-reply outside your organization, use the text box on this tab to enter the body of your auto-reply. 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 tab 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 all messages sent to you ARE being delivered, so there's no need to send them again.
  11. You can also create Rules to handle special circumstances (messages from a particular address, or with certain words in the subject or body). Describing those options fully is beyond the scope of this document, but if you are familiar with Rules in Outlook 2013, the process will probably make sense to you.
  12. Click OK to close the dialog box when you are finished.

If you did not specify a start and end date and time, remember to come back to the assistant upon your return to the office, and turn off the auto-reply feature.

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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