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When you go on vacation, you probably change your voicemail telling callers the dates that you'll be unavailable to return their calls. You can do the same thing with email and it's called Out of Office. Outlook can auto respond to anyone that emails you during the dates you'll be away with the message that you specify. You can do this if you're on an Exchange Server. If you're not on an Exchange Server, meaning if you're connecting via POP or IMAP, that's okay, we can still do the same type if thing using Rules and I'll show you how to after. To say you're Out of Office, go up to File, and choose Automatic Replies.
You won't see this option if you're not connected to an Exchange Server. So we're going to tell this dialog that we want to send automatic replies and we can come down here and place a check mark next to Only Send During This Time Range, and this is where we set the dates that we're going to be away. So here's where we specify two different responses; we can have a different response for Inside My Organization, where I could be less formal if I want to, and then another one for Outside My Organization. I do need to make sure there is a check mark here besides Auto Reply, and I need to specify that I want to this to go out for anyone outside my organization.
I can make this one a little bit more formal because people I don't know are going to be emailing me. When I'm all set, I can choose OK and now my automatic replies are being sent. So when I come back from vacation, I can either turn off automatic replies by going right up to Turn Off on the dialog box here or I can go back to File and choose Turn Off. So what happens if I'm a POP or IMAP user and I'm not connected to an Exchange Server? That's totally fine.
We're going to create a Rule and an email template with an auto responder. I'm going to give you the example of a product inquiry letter. For example, we have a product that we just don't make anymore and we keep getting product inquiries about it. So I'm gong to into my Drafts, where I've already drafted up a letter that I'm going to send out. This is going to be an auto response to anybody that sends me a product inquiry about the product that's been discontinued. So I typed this up earlier. All I did was create New Email and then typed up the Body of my email.
So when you get yours set up exactly the way you wanted, go to File, Save As, give it a File Name and then go down to Save as Type and choose Outlook Template. Click Save. We can then close out of this because we're all done with it, but now we're going to create a Rule to make it an auto responder. I'm going to click on Rules, Create Rule, go down to Advanced Options and specify the conditions that I want to check for.
I want this to go out when somebody sends me an email with the name of the product that they're actually inquiring about. So I'm going to click on Specific words in the body. I'm gong to put the product that they're inquiring about here. I click Add and then OK and now I can click Next to tell Outlook what actually do once it finds something that matches that inquiry. In this case, I'm going to use reply using a specific Template. I'm going to come down here and click on a specific template and from Look In; I'm going to choose User Templates in File System.
Here is where I can put the actual template that we just created. I click Open and then I can click Next, specifying the exceptions if I want, for example, if somebody in my company emails me about it, and then when I'm all done, I can click Finish. Now Outlook is going to remind me that this Rule is only going to run while I have Outlook running, if it's closed, the rule can't process any incoming emails. I click OK and now my auto responder has been created.
So the last thing, it's important to note that an Out of Office or Automatic Reply Message will only reply once to the sender, whereas a Rule that you create, will continue to send out as many responses as it gets incoming emails that match that Rule.
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