The Definitive and Up-To-Date Out of Office Message Guide

Vacations should be a time of relaxation and that means not worrying about your email. Luckily for you, every email client out there has a way of setting up Out of Office messages to let the people sending you emails know that you’re away and unavailable. This is great because automated vacation messages help you to really step away, and at the same time, let your family, friends, clients, and coworkers know that you’re not just ignoring them; you’re actually not available.

The steps to turn Out of Office (or vacation) reminders on vary between clients. The steps below outline how to turn on Out of Office reminders for the most popular email clients and services.

Please note that for email clients like Windows Outlook and Apple Mail, this process only works when you have your email set up via an Exchange server. Gmail and Google Apps are setup via the web app.

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1. Outlook 2011 (Mac) Out Of Office Message Setup

With Outlook 2011 open, click on the Tools menu, then Out of Office…

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The Out of Office Assistant will appear. Here, fill out the appropriate information. The first item is a radio button that turns Out of Office replies on or off. Click the Send Out of Office messages to turn them on.

Next, enter the message you wish to appear in your Out of Office notification. This generally includes the dates and times you are away and contact information for whoever is covering for you in your absence. Click More options to see the additional settings.

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If you know the dates and times you will be away, enter them next and check the I am out of the office between: box. This will automatically turn replies on and off for you. If you wish to send replies to people outside your organization, check that box and enter the information you wish for them to see. Choose if you want this to be for people inside or outside of your address book, and click OK.

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Note: While Out of Office reminders are active, if you open Outlook 2011, you will get a warning asking if you would like to keep replies on or turn them off.

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2. Outlook 2013 (PC) Out of Office Message Setup

First, click the File tab on the Outlook 2013 Ribbon, and then click the Info tab in the menu that appears.

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Next, click the Automatic Replies (Out of Office) button.
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In the window that appears, select the Send Automatic Replies checkbox. If you wish to set a specific date and time range to send Out of Office replies, check the Only send during this time range box.

Enter the messages you wish to send inside as well as outside of your organization. Click the OK button to complete the process.

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3. Apple Mail .app (Mac) Out of Office Message Setup

For the default email application on the Mac, setting Out of Office replies is fairly simple if you know where to look. Unlike Outlook 2011, you need to hunt a little to find the setting.

First, click the Inbox for which you want to set an Out of Office message. Next, click the gear icon in the bottom left corner of the Mail.app window.

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In the menu that appears, click on Out of Office. You may have to scroll down in the menu to see this option.
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This will bring up the Account Info window. Here, check the Send Out of Office replies: box, and choose whether you want them to be sent Until disabled or While scheduled. If you schedule them, enter the Starting and Ending dates and times.

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Enter the reply information you wish to be sent internally and externally with your company. When complete, close this window. Once the window is closed, Out of Office replies will be sent as scheduled.

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4. Gmail Web Client (Any) Out of Office Message Setup

Log into your Gmail or Google Apps account. Once you are on the Inbox screen, click the gear icon under your user picture in the top right corner and select Settings.

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In the General tab of the settings window, scroll down the page until you see Vacation responder.

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To turn Out of Office replies on, first click the Vacation responder on radio button. After this, choose the dates you would like to run the Out of Office message. You must choose a start date, but the end date is optional. Unlike Outlook and Mail.app, you can’t set times in Gmail, only dates.

Enter the reply subject, you want a specific one, and then enter the text you wish to send. If you only want to let people inside of your inbox know you’re out of Office, check the Only send a response to people in my Contacts box.

Click Save Changed at the bottom of the window to complete the process.

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