How to Enable the Out of the Office Message on Outlook 2007

By B. Steele

Microsoft Outlook's Out of Office Assistant (OOA) keeps senders informed when you're away from work, or otherwise unable to return emails. Unfortunately, OOA is only available with email accounts hosted on a Microsoft Exchange server; if you don't have an Exchange-hosted account, you won't even see the feature listed. However, if you don't have an Exchange account, you can work around the deficiency by creating an auto-responder template and automating it with an Outlook rule.

Microsoft Exchange Accounts

Step 1

Click on "Tools" in the menu bar at the top, and select "Out of Office Assistant."

Step 2

Click the button next to "Send out of Office Auto Replies" (or "I am Currently Out of the Office" if your organization is running Exchange 2003 or earlier).

Step 3

Check the "Only send during this time range" if you'd like to specify an active time frame. Leave it unchecked if you want to enable OOA indefinitely.

Step 4

Edit your OOA message for internal and external contacts if needed, and click "OK."

Work-Around for Other Accounts

Step 1

Open a new email message, and create your out-of-office reply.

Step 2

Click the Office button, and then "Save As."

Step 3

Choose "Outlook Template (*.oft)" as the file format.

Step 4

Type an appropriate name for your template, and click "Save."

Step 5

Click "Tools" from the menu bar, and select "Rules and Alerts."

Step 6

Select "New Rule."

Step 7

Click "Check messages when they arrive" next to "Start from a blank rule."

Step 8

Click "Next."

Step 9

Click the box next to "Sent only to me" in the first conditionals section, and click "Next."

Step 10

Click "Yes" to acknowledge that the rule will apply to all incoming mail.

Step 11

Click the "Reply using a specific template" box when asked "What do you want to do with the message?" "Specific template" will appear as a hyperlink.

Step 12

Click the "specific template" hyperlink.

Step 13

Click "User templates in File System" in the "Look in" dialog box.

Step 14

Select your saved template and click "Open."

Step 15

Click "Next."

Step 16

Choose any rule exceptions, if desired.

Step 17

Choose a name for the new rule, and click "Finish."

Tips & Warnings

  • Use plain text formatting for out-of-office messages going to contacts outside your organization; recipient mail servers are less likely to flag these as spam.