Automatically Reply to Messages in Gmail

Gmail logo

Wikimedia Commons

There's no reason to write the same email over and over when you can just set up canned responses in Gmail. If you find yourself sending the same text to the same or even different people, consider using the auto-reply function to send these messages automatically.

The way this works is by setting up a filter in Gmail so that when certain conditions are met (like when a specific person emails you), a message of your choosing is automatically sent back to that address; these are called canned responses.

If you'd rather send vacation responses in Gmail, there's a different setting you can enable for that.

Set Up Automatic Email Replies in Gmail

  1. Turn on Canned Responses by opening Gmail's settings/gears button and enabling the Canned Responses option in Settings > Labs. You can also get to the Labs tab through this link.

  2. Create the template you wish to use for auto-replying to messages.

  3. Select the Show search options triangle in the search field at the top of Gmail. It's the small triangle on the right side of the text area.

  4. Define the criteria that should apply to the filter, such as the sender's email address and any words that should appear in the subject or body.

  5. Select the link at the bottom of the filtering options called Create filter with this search.

  6. Check the box next to the option called Send canned response.

  7. Open the drop-down menu next to that option and choose which canned response to sending out when the filtering criteria are met.

  8. Select any other filtering option you want to apply, such as the one to skip the Inbox or delete the message.

  9. Select Create filter. The filter will be stored in the Filters and Blocked Addresses section of Gmail's settings.

Important Facts About Auto Responses

The filtering options only apply to new messages that come in after the filter is created. Even if you have existing emails where the filter could apply, the canned responses will not be sent out to the recipients of those messages.

Canned replies originate from an address that's still yours, of course, but with a slightly altered email address. For example, if your normal address is, sending out auto emails will change the address to

This is still your email address, and so replies will still go to you, but the address is altered to indicate that it's coming from an automatically generated message.

While it is possible to attach files to a canned response and use them when you manually insert the response from the More Options > Canned responses menu, you can not auto email attachments. So, any text within the canned response will send out but not any attachments. This includes inline images as well.

However, with that being said, the canned responses do not have to be plain text. You can include rich text formatting like bold and italic words, and they'll send out automatically without any issues.