How to put Outlook e-mail into "Vacation" mode!

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 26, 2001 12:00 AM

Question

I have gotten automated replies from people that are on vacation when I send them an e-mail message. How do I get my Outlook e-mail program to let people know when I am on vacation?

- Chuck

Answer

This question was answered on March 26, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Since e-mail has become so pervasive in our daily communications, letting others know when you are not there can keep them from thinking that you are ignoring them. Putting your e-mail program into “vacation” mode will do just that.

In Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail program here are the steps that will allow you to automatically notify senders of your current status:

Start by creating a “New message” that has the reply that you want to go out automatically. Do not address it to anyone, but in the Subject section of the message, put “Out of Town” or some other short description to explain the intent of the message. In the body of the message create something like “I will be out of town until XX/XX/XX. Please contact my office if this matter is urgent.” Once you have created the message, click on File / Save As and change the “Save as type” (at the bottom) to “Outlook Template (*.oft)” then name this message “vacation”. By default in should place it in the “Templates” folder.

Next, close the vacation message that you just created, click on the “Tools / Rules Wizard” then on the “New” button. The first screen of the wizard will ask “Which type of rule” you want to create. Select “Check messages when they arrive” then click the Next button. The next screen will ask, “Which condition(s) do you want to check?”. If you select “Where my name is in the To box” it will only automatically respond to messages that are specifically addressed to you. This is helpful, because it will not send a message to “Spammers” or unsolicited messages. You can also select combinations of conditions if they apply to you. Once you have made your selection(s), click on the Next button, which will take you to the “What do you want to do with the message?” window. Select “reply using a specific template” then click on the words “a specific template” (in blue) in the “Rule description” box below. When the “Select a template” box opens, change the “Look in” box to “User Templates…” which should then list the “vacation” template in the box below that we created earlier. Select the “vacation” template, click the Open button and then click on the Next button. This will take you to the exceptions option menu, which you can bypass by clicking on the Next button again. The final step is to give this rule a name such as “Vacation” then click on the Finish button.

Once the rule has been created it will appear in the Rules Wizard main menu with a checkmark in front of it. If you don’t want it to start sending out your vacation message right away, remove the checkmark in front of the rule until you are ready to start using it.

In order for your e-mail program to automatically reply while you are gone, you must leave your computer turned on and Outlook must be running so it can periodically check your messages and automatically reply.

This configuration works best with a cable modem, DSL, corporate network or any other “always on” connection. If you are using a dial-up ISP, it will still work as long as Outlook is set to automatically check your mail on a regular interval, which is the default.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 26, 2001

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