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

Let people know you'll reply when you're back

Woman using laptop on the beach

 Oleksandr / Pexels

Not at home? Not even at the office? While you are away, Gmail's vacation responder can send out-of-office notifications in reply to emails you receive automatically (and intelligently).

Gmail lets you set up a convenient vacation auto-responder that does the job. You can even restrict automatic replies to people already in your Gmail address book to avoid replying to newsletters and the occasional spam that might make it past Gmail's filters (mail routed to the Spam folder as well as messages coming through mailing lists never get automatic responses).

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

To set up an out-office auto-response that informs senders of your temporary absence and inability to get back immediately in Gmail:

  1. Select the Settings gear () in Gmail.

  2. Select Settings from the menu that appears.

    Screenshot of Settings in the Settings menu in Gmail
  3. Make sure you are on the General tab.

    Screenshot of General tab in Gmail settings
  4. Select Vacation responder on in the Vacation Responder section.

    Screenshot of Vacation responder on button in Vacation responder section of Gmail settings
  5. Enter an appropriate subject and message body text.

    If you can, include approximate info on when you will be able to reply personally. Somebody to contact alternatively or a way of getting in touch with you in your absence (in case of emergency) might also be appropriate.

    Screenshot of Vacation responder message in Gmail
  6. Set a start date in the future under First day, select Last day, and specify a time for the auto-responder to auto-stop responding, if desired.

    Another way to stop the vacation auto-responder is to select the End now link in the vacation responder bar at the top of your Gmail screen.

    Screenshot of First day and Last day in Gmail Vacation responder settings
  7. Select Only send a response to people in my Contacts if you only want to send automatic replies to people in your address book.

    Screenshot of Only send a response to people in my Contacts in Gmail Vacation responder settings
  8. 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're back before 30 days are over, you can recover these messages from the Trash folder, too.

Set Up an Out-of-Office Vacation Auto-Reply in Gmail mobile

To create an out-of-office auto-reply on the go with Gmail mobile:

  1. Open the Gmail app and go to Settings.

  2. Choose Settings near the bottom of the menu.

  3. Select your account from the list.

  4. Scroll down to Vacation Responder in the General section and select it.

  5. Toggle Vacation responder to On.

    Screenshot of Gmail app Settings, Vacation responder, and Vacation responder toggle
  6. Set a start date in the future under First day, select Last day, and specify a time for the auto-responder to auto-stop responding, if desired.

  7. Type the desired subject for auto-replies under Subject.

  8. Enter your vacation message under Message:

    Include when you will be able to reply personally (or whether you would prefer messages to be re-sent after your return), if possible.

  9. Select Only send a response to people in my Contacts if you only want to send automatic replies to people in your address book.

    Screenshots of Vacation responder dates, message, and Send only to my Contacts checkbox
  10. Select Done.

Changes you make in Gmail mobile will be reflected in desktop Gmail, of course—and vice versa.