How to Set Up AutoReply in Microsoft Outlook

The last thing you need when you get back to the office after a relaxing vacation or a busy few days on a business trip is a series of increasingly annoyed emails from customers who have been trying to get in touch with you. Outlook 2013 gives you the option of setting up an automated response to incoming mail, so you can give your contacts a heads-up that you're not around. This isn't hard to do, but the AutoReply process has a few steps to follow, as you need to set up a template email, choose sending rules and activate the function.

OUT OF OFFICE written in sand on a beautiful beach
Autoreply works with Outlook.com, POP3 and IMAP accounts.
credit: stanciuc/iStock/Getty Images

Step

Click "Home" and then "New Email" to set up your template. In the body of the email, type the message you want to use in your automatic reply.

Step

Click "File" and then "Save As." Name your file in the File Name field and select "Outlook Template" in the "Save as" type area, then click "Save."

Step

Click the "Home" tab and "Rules" then select "Manage Rules & Alerts." Click "New Rule" in the box that opens to start the Rules Wizard.

Step

Click "Apply rules on messages I receive" in the "Start from a blank rule" section. Click "Next." You'll see a range of criteria. If you want to send a reply to all emails, don't check any boxes. Check boxes if you want to limit which kinds of emails get an automated reply, then click "Next."

Step

Select the "Reply using a specific template" option in the first section of the dialog box that opens. Click the "a specific template" link in the bottom section to open the Select a Reply Template box.

Step

Select "User Templates in File System" from the Look In menu. The template you created earlier should appear in the window. Select the template file and click "Open" to return to the Rules Wizard. Click "Next." If you want to add exceptions to your AutoReply rule, check them off in the list and click "Next" when you're done.

Step

Give your rule a name in Step 1 and make sure that the "Turn on this rule" button is checked in Step 2. In Step 3, review the rule description and click "Finish."