Out of Office

ByStephen Powell

Out of Office

Having an automated response while away has been a staple of modern communication technology for years now, especially in the business world. When we’re away, we need our contacts to know that so they don’t think they’re being ignored! It’s also helpful to be able to automatically let people know when you plan to be back, and other messages.

Mark the days on the work calendar, set your mobile to the extended absence voicemail, ask your neighbours to watch your place.

But what about Email?

You have a few options when it comes to Email:

  • Outlook Out of Office Assistant (Using an Exchange Account)
  • Outlook Automated Rules (Without an Exchange Account)
  • Email Autoresponders (Direct Admin and cPanel)

Note: The first 2 options below are instructions using Outlook 2010, 2013, and 2016

Email Autoresponders (Direct Admin and cPanel)

This option is the best option to use for most people. You need to have access to your email hosting control panel (Direct Admin or cPanel). The good news is this has nothing to do with any email clients (Such as Outlook). You’ll be setting up your Autoreplies right on the email server.

Direct Admin

  1. Login to Direct Admin using your account credentials. If you don’t know them, please email your host support.
  2. Under Email Management click Autoresponders
  3. Click Create New Autoresponder
  4. In the first box, type in the first part of your email address
    1. EG: If your email address is superBusiness@hosting.com you would type in superBusiness
  5. In the next, larger, box type in the message you want to be in your automatic replies.
  6. Finally, if you want your automated replies to be CC’d to anyone, click the box and type in the email address.
  7. Click Create


  1. Login to cPanel using your account credentials. If you don’t know them, please email your host support.
  2. Under Mail, click Autoresponders
  3. Click Add Autoresponder button
  4. Character Set: In most cases you won’t need to change this.
  5. Interval: Here you can state how many hours before the same person will receive your automatic reply a second (Or more) time.
    1. EG: Lets say you put 24 here and Lucy emails you. She will get your automated reply. If Lucy emails you anymore times within 24 hours of her first email, she will not receive any more automated replies.
  6. Email: Type in the first part of your email address. NOTE: If this email address doesn’t exist your autoresponder won’t work.
  7. From: The person it’s from, generally your name.
  8. Subject: What you want the subject of your autoresponder to be. Usually something starting with “Out of Office Automated Reply” is good.
  9. HTML: Check this box if you want to use HTML in your automated message (Such as Hyperlinks, Images, etc…)
  10. Body: Write your automated message here.
  11. Start and Stop: Here you can set start and stop times/dates, or have the autoresponder start immediately and not turn off until you do so manually.
  12. Click Create/Modify

Note: These next two options are for Outlook version 2010, 2013, and 2016.

Outlook Out of Office Assistant (Using an Exchange Account)

This option is the easiest, but the catch is your email account has to be using on an Outlook Exchange Server.

To check if you use an exchange account click on File -> Account Settings -> Account Settings. On the new window that opens look for the email account you want to check. To the right, under the Type column, it will say Microsoft Exchange if it’s an exchange account.

If you use an exchange account do the following to setup your Out of Office.

  1. Click File
  2. Click Info on the left menu
  3. On the right menu click Automated Replies

And that’s it! A new window will open where you can set the start and end time of the automation, and the message you want to automatically send to anyone that sends you email. Since this rule gets sent to your Exchange Server, you don’t need to have Outlook open for it to work.

Out look Automated Rules (Without an Exchange Account)

The next option takes a little more effort to setup, and has the downside of requiring Outlook to be constantly open to work. But it doesn’t need any kind of special email account to work like the option above.

First, you need to set the message you want to use as your automated reply.

  1. Click Home > New Email.
  2. In the message body, type the message that you want to send as your automated reply.
  3. In the message window, click File > Save As.
  4. In the Save As dialog box, in the Save as type list, click Outlook Template.
  5. In the File name box, type a name for your message template, and then click Save.

Now, we need to setup the “Rule” that tells outlook to use this email template as automated replies to our emails.

  1. Click Home > Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts.
  2. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, click New Rule.
  3. Under Start from a blank rule, click Apply rules on messages I receive, and then click Next.
  4. Under Which condition(s) do you want to check?, check any criteria that you want, and then click Next. Typically, you don’t need to check any items.
  5. Under What do you want to do with the message?, check reply using a specific template.
  6. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value), click a specific template.
  7. In the Select a Reply Template dialog box, in the Look In box, click User Templates in File System.
  8. Select the template that you created in the previous section.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Check any exceptions to the auto-reply rule. It’s common not to add any exceptions.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Under Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, type a name for the auto-reply rule, and then click Finish.

As mentioned before, this rule will only work when Outlook checks for and retrieves new email.  Therefor, Outlook would need to be left on and running the entire time. Probably not very practical for someone going on a vacation and leaving there computer at home.




About the author

Stephen Powell

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