AutoReply should only be used when necessary. AutoReplies can alert others that you are out of town (like telling the world you are on vacation for a week and how to contact you in case of emergency). Also, please be aware that AutoReplies will confirm your address to spammers and could cause looping problems.

Below are some valid instances for using AutoReply:

  • AutoReply can be used by service-based organizations to confirm that to the customer that an email was received and that the team is working on it.
  • Out of Office Assistant can be used when the user will not be in their normal operating office for more than 24 hours.
    • Note: When using Out of Office Assistant, be sure to protect yourself by keeping the reply vague (i.e. "I will be away from my computer until xx:xx on xx/xx/xx") and do not include location of vacation or any other specific information. This reply will be sent to ANYONE who emails you.

Important If this is a client side rule, like this example, replies will only be sent when Outlook is running, so you will need to leave your computer turned on with Outlook running. However, you can turn the power off to your monitor. We strongly recommend your computer is password protected.

First we'll create a template for what your automatic reply will read:

  1. In Outlook, click New Email
  2. Fill in the Subject field and the content of the email field that you'd like to be sent as an AutoReply
  3. Click File, Save As, and under the "Save as type:" drop down menu, select Outlook Template (*.oft).
    1. Note: do note change the destination of the file. Leave it wherever it defaults
  4. Close out of the email that you've created and do not save it when exiting

Next we'll set the rule on when and how to send this AutoReply

  1. Under the Home tab and in the Move grouping, click the Rules drop down arrow and click Create Rule
  2. Click Advanced Options
  3. Check the box that says "sent only to me"
  4. Click Next
  5. Check "reply using a specific template"
    1. Select the template under Step 2 (click on the blue underlined "a specific template")
    2. Choose the template that you saved in the previous paragraph
  6. Click Next
  7. Choose any exceptions if you'd like and click Next
  8. Name the rule (ex: Auto Reply 1). Ensure that "Turn on this rule" is checked
  9. Click Finish

You can use an "Out of Office" rule to automatically send replies to messages you receive.  Once the Automatic Reply is turned on, it will send an automatic reply ONCE to each sender, even if the sender sends you multiple messages over a period of time. Automatic Replies will not be sent to the uiowa listservs (e.g., the restriction is based on smtp domain so we can not include every listserv domain). However, if you wish, you can set up rules restricting to whom the message are sent.

  1. Click on File | Info | Automatic Replies.
  2. Check "Send automatic replies"
  3. Type your Away Message for replies to inside your organization 
  4. Click the Outside My Organization tab and set the message if you wish to send replies to senders outside the university.
  5. Click OK to save changes. 

Furthermore, you can specify rules regarding how to forward emails to your personal account or reply to different senders with different responses.

  1. Click on the Rules... button
  2. Click on the Add Rule... button.
  3. The Edit Rule window allows you to set the conditions that will trigger the rule and the actions that the rule will perform. If no condition is specified the rule will act on all incoming mail.
  4. In the 'Perform these actions:' section, check the Forward option and in the 'To' box, specify the address to which you wish to forward incoming mail.
  5. From the 'Method' drop down list select 'Leave message intact' - THIS MUST BE SET to stop the message from potentially bouncing between one mailbox and the other.
  6. The forward action forwards only a copy of the incoming mail to the specified destination. The original message will still be in your Inbox.
  7. Click OK. (Note: a confirmation box will appear to warn you that the rule will act on all incoming messages).
  8. Click on the Yes button. Then click OK to close the "Out of Office Assistant" dialog box.
  1. Login to your Office 365 account -- type your HawkID@uiowa.edu and your Hawk ID Password and then click on the Log On button.
  2. Click the Options (gear icon) 
  3. In the Mail section, select Send Automatic Replies 
  4. Select the radio button named "Send Out of Office auto-replies".
  5. Type the out of office message in the text box (e.g., I am currently out of the office.  I will return...).
  6. If you wish to send out of office messages to senders from outside the University then check the box "Send Out of Office auto-replies to External Senders" and select a radio button to determine which senders will receive a reply.
  7. Click Save.
  1. Login to your Office 365 account -- type your HawkID@uiowa.edu and your Hawk ID Password and then click on the Log On button.
  2. Once you are logged in, click on the person icon in the right hand corner.
  3. Choose Open Another Mailbox
  4. Enter the account name of your shared departmental account in the "Open another mailbox:" field.
  5. Click Open to log on to your shared account.
  6. Once you are logged on to your shared account, click the Options (gear icon) 
  7. In the Mail section, select Send Automatic Replies 
  8. Select the radio button named "Send Out of Office auto-replies".
  9. Type the out of office message in the text box (e.g., I am currently out of the office.  I will return...).
  10. If you wish to send out of office messages to senders from outside the University then check the box "Send Out of Office auto-replies to External Senders" and select a radio button to determine which senders will receive a reply.
  11. Click Save.
  1. Choose Preferences | Rules.
  2. Click “Add Rule” and give it a description, (e.g., Out of Office Reply).
  3. Choose your condition - apply to “Every Message” using the drop-down menu and choose Reply to Message.
  4. Click Reply message text and type the text of your senders will receive while you are away.  
  5. Click OK to finish creating the rule.
  6. You will be prompted to apply the rule to existing messages. Choose Don’t Apply so that the rule only applies to new messages you receive.
Article number: 
1355
Last updated: 
February 9, 2017