How to Set Up an Out-of-Office Vacation Auto Response in iCloud Mail

A businessman working at a desk and dreaming of being at the beach
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If you want to let people who email you know when you won't be able to respond because you are going to be unavailable, an out-of-office auto-responder is very helpful. It's also good office and email etiquette. 

In iCloud Mail, vacation auto-response is easy to set up. 

Setting iCloud Mail Vacation Automatic Reply

To make iCloud Mail reply to incoming emails with an out-of-office message automatically and on your behalf:

  1. Click the Show Actions menu icon—it looks like a cog—in iCloud Mail's lower left corner.
    • If your mailboxes are not showing, that panel is just hidden. Locate the Show Mailboxes button, which is a > button in the upper left (it should be right below the words "iCloud Mail"), and click it. A panel will slide out from the left, revealing your iCloud mailboxes. 
  2. Click Preferences… in the menu.
  3. Click the Vacation tab.
  4. Check the box next to Automatically reply to messages when they are received to turn on the auto-responder.
  5. Set the start and end dates for the time you will be unavailable, on vacation, or out of your office. Clicking in the fields next to Start date: and End date: will open a small calendar in which you can click the appropriate dates.

    Note that you can leave the start and end date fields empty. Doing so will activate the auto-reply immediately after you click Done, and it will remain active until you manually turn it off again (see Disabling Vacation Automatic Reply below).
  1. Enter your vacation response message in the Add vacation message content box. Some tips for writing your message:
    • Be purposefully vague; revealing too much information in an auto-reply—including whether you will be out of town, or revealing phone numbers of people to contact in your absence—can pose a security risk; for example, letting anyone who emails you know that you'll be out of town can reveal to people who should not know this information that your home will be unoccupied and for how long.
    • It is good etiquette to include when a sender might expect a response, or when they should resend their message (if it is still relevant) after you will have returned.
    • Note that the original message will not be quoted in the automatic reply.
  1. Click Done in the lower right of the window when you are satisfied with your message and your dates have been set.

Disabling Vacation Automatic Reply

Your vacation auto-reply will turn off automatically on the day you set it to end; however, if you left the date range fields blank when you set up the vacation responder, you will want to turn off your iCloud Mail vacation auto-responder manually when you get back from your time away.

To disable the vacation automatic reply, follow the same steps above to open the Vacation tab in the iCloud Mail preferences window. Then, uncheck the box next to Automatically reply to messages when they are received

There's no need to clear your message from the box—as a matter of fact, you may want to keep it to reuse the next time you're on vacation, so all you'd need to do is change the relevant start and end dates.

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