Whenever you are out of Office or going on a vacation, its better to set up and Out of Office or auto reply, so that your friends will know that you wont be able to reply back to the mails. Outlook 2007 has an Out of Office assistant which will help you to set up an auto reply. But this feature is available in Microsoft Outlook only if it is using a Microsoft Exchange Server service. This means that if you are using POP or IMAP account in Outlook, then this feature will not be available. Alternatively, you can create a rule to send automatic emails.

1. Create a Auto Reply Template

  • Select a new Outlook message.
  • In the Options tab, click Plain Text.
  • Type in the Auto Reply message you want to reply.
  • Click Save As and in the Save As dialog box, click to select the Outlook Template check box in the Save as type list.
  • Type a name for your reply template in the File name box, and then click Save.

2. Creating a Rule for sending Auto Reply.

  • Click on the Tools menu, select Rules and Alerts.
  • In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, click the New Rule button.
  • In the Rules Wizard under Start from a blank rule, click Check messages when they arrive, and then click Next.
  • Under Which condition(s) do you want to check?, click to select the Sent Only To Me check box or any other check box that you want, and then click Next.
  • Under What do you want to do with the message, click to select the Reply using a specific template check box.
  • Under Step 2: Edit the Rule Description, click the underlined phrase a specific template.
  • In the Select A Reply Template dialog box, click the template that you saved previously and then click Open.
  • Complete the Rules Wizard instructions, click Finish, and then click OK.

Now, auto reply message will be sent to all mails that arrive after the rule is applied. The feature of this rule (for rules created with Reply using a specific template option) is that it will remember the list of persons whom it has replied, so that this auto reply is not send to same person again and again. This rule is reset when you restart Outlook.

NB: Outlook must be running for the Rules Wizard to automatically reply.

rules and alerts

rules and alerts_1

rules and alerts_2

In case you are using Microsoft Exchange Server (mostly in Offices), then you can use the Out of Office Assistant to configure Auto Reply.