How to Set Up Out of Office in Outlook

By Missy Jess

When activated, Microsoft Outlook's "Out of Office Assistant" sends automated emails, replying to anyone who sends a message to your account. You can customize your message to inform clients, colleagues and other contacts of the date you'll return and whom to contact in your absence. This feature also allows you to set up separate messages to contacts outside your company, and configure rules to forward messages to other recipients and automatically place select emails in Outlook folders.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Microsoft Outlook

Step 1

Open Microsoft Outlook by clicking on the program's icon or clicking "Start," and scrolling through the menu to find the application. Wait for the program to load.

Step 2

Click on "Tools" from the menu bar located at the top of the screen and select "Out of Office Assistant."

Step 3

Select "Send Out of Office Replies" and type in your out of office message in the text box labeled "Inside My Organization." This is the message people inside your company receive when contacting you when you have "Out of Office" activated. A typical out of office message reads, "Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office. I will be returning on (date)." You may want to add more details, such as the email address of a colleague to contact in case of urgent issues.

Step 4

Click on "Outside my Organization," located at the top of the text box. This is the email those outside your company receive when contacting you when "Out of Office" is turned on. Write your out of office reply in the box. If desired, use the same message.

Step 5

Click "OK" to start sending out of office replies immediately. To schedule "Out of Office" in the future, check the box next to "Only send during this time range" and set the start and end date and time. Click "OK" to activate.

Step 6

View the bottom right corner of your screen to confirm "Out of Office" is activated. An "Out of Office" icon appears in the corner.

Step 7

Access "Out of Office Assistant" again if you'd like to set up a rule. Rules allow you to send custom messages to select contacts, automatically move emails to folders within Outlook, or forward the message to another recipient. Set your desired conditions by filling in the appropriate fields in the dialog box. Click "OK" when finished.

Step 8

Close Microsoft Outlook. When you open this application again, Microsoft Outlook shows a dialog box, asking whether you'd like to deactivate the "Out of Office" feature.

Tips & Warnings

  • Microsoft Outlook only sends one out of office message to each sender for the duration of your absence. In other words, if a client emails you three times while you are out, he only receives one automated message.