How to Set up an Out-Of-Office Vacation Responder in Gmail

Let colleagues know when to expect a reply

Woman using laptop on the beach

 Oleksandr / Pexels

Good business etiquette dictates that you inform email correspondents if you're not able to promptly respond to their messages. But, what if you're not available to check your email regularly enough to let them know? The answer: set up an autoresponder. This feature is available in many email applications, including Gmail.

An autoresponder automatically sends a reply to anyone who emails you, letting them know that you're gone, how frequently you'll be checking email (if at all), and when the sender can expect an actual reply. You can set up the message to say anything you want, including who to contact in your absence.

You can even restrict these automatic replies to only people in your Gmail address book to avoid replying to newsletters or the occasional spam that might make it past Gmail's filters. It's super handy for when you go on vacation or are otherwise away from the office.

Set Up an Out-of-Office Vacation Responder in Gmail

Follow these steps to create an automatic out-of-office email response:

  1. In Gmail, in the upper-right corner, select the Settings (gear) icon. From the menu, choose Settings.

    Settings menu in Gmail
  2. Select the General tab.

    General Settings tab in Gmail settings
  3. In the Vacation responder section, select Vacation responder on.

    Vacation responder on button in Vacation responder section of Gmail Settings
  4. Enter a subject (such as "Out of office through the 24th") and message body text.

    Your message should include when you'll be out, the date you'll be back in the office, who to contact in your absence (along with their contact information), and whether or not you'll be checking email while you're gone.

    Vacation responder message in Gmail
  5. In the First day field, select the first date of your absence. Select Last day and specify the last date you'll be out of the office.

    First day and Last day in Gmail Vacation responder settings
  6. If you only want to send automatic replies to people in your address book, select Only send a response to people in my Contacts.

    Only send a response to people in my Contacts selection in Gmail settings
  7. At the bottom of the screen, select Save Changes.

Exclude Messages from the Gmail Auto-Responder

You can prevent Gmail from sending automatic replies to certain messages by setting up filters that delete (and optionally forward) these messages. If you access Gmail within 30 days, you can recover these messages from the Trash folder.

Set Up an Out-of-Office Vacation Responder in Gmail Mobile

You can also create an out-of-office autoresponder with Gmail mobile:

  1. Open the Gmail app. In the Search bar, tap the Menu icon (three horizontal stacked lines) and select Settings.

    Gmail app Settings, Vacation responder, and Vacation responder toggle in Android
  2. On the Settings screen, select your email address from the list.

  3. In the General section, tap Vacation responder.

  4. Toggle Vacation responder to On.

    Vacation responder dates, message, and Send only to my Contacts checkbox in Gmail on Android
  5. Use the First day dropdown menu to select the first day you'll be out of the office. Use the Last day dropdown menu to select the last day you'll be out of the office.

  6. In the Subject field, type an appropriate subject. In the Message field, type your out-of-office message.

  7. If you only want to send automatic replies to people in your address book, select Send only to my Contacts.

  8. At the top of the screen, select Done.

Changes you make in Gmail mobile will be reflected in desktop Gmail, and vice-versa.