How to Set Up an Out of Office Vacation Auto-Reply in Outlook

Man using laptop in tropical cafe
Lumina Images/Getty Images

Microsoft Outlook has an Automatic Reply feature you can use to leave a message for your co-workers or others when you leave on vacation. This feature is only available with an Exchange account, which many organizations, businesses, and schools use. Home users don't usually have an Exchange account, and some POP and IMAP accounts don't support Outlook's Automatic Replies feature.

This process works in Microsoft Office Outlook 2016, 2013 and 2010 with Exchange accounts.

How to Use the 'Automatic Replies (Out of Office)' Feature

Microsoft Office 365 subscription software package
NoDerog/Getty Images

Set up your automatic replies and schedule start and stop times in Outlook. Here's how:

  1.  Open Outlook and click the File tab.
  2. Select the Info tab in the menu that appears in the pane at the left of the screen.
  3. Click the Automatic Replies (Out of Office) button in the main screen. (If you don't see this option, you probably don't have an Exchange account.)
  4. In the dialog box that opens, click in the checkbox next to Send Automatic Replies.
  5. Click the Only send during this time range check box and enter a start time and an end time.
  6. You can leave two out of office messages—one to your co-workers and one to everyone else. Click the Inside my organization tab to enter a message to send to your co-workers. Click the Outside my organization tab to enter a message to send to everyone else.
  7. Click OK to save the information.

The out of office replies are triggered automatically at the start time you enter and run until the end time. Each time an incoming email arrives during this period, the sender is sent your out of office reply. If you want to stop the automatic replies at any time during the scheduled period, return to the Automatic Replies (Out of Office) button and select Do not send automatic replies.

How to Tell Whether You Have an Exchange Account

If you are unsure whether you are using Outlook with an Exchange account, look in the status bar. You will see "Connected to Microsoft Exchange" in the status bar if you are using an Exchange account.