How to Set Up an Out of Office Message in Outlook

An out-of-office message is an automatic reply sent to people to notify them that you are away from work. It is a professional way to let them know how long you will be gone, when you will be back and who to contact instead. Here’s how to set up an out-of-office message on the Outlook desktop and web apps.

Set Out of Office Message in the Outlook Web App

  1. Sign into outlook.com.
  2. Click on the gear icon in the top-right corner.

    Gear Icon in Outlook Web App
    Select the gear icon.
  3. Click on View all Outlook settings at the bottom of the page.

    View All Outlook Settings Option
    Click on View all Outlook settings.
  4. In the Mail tab, go to Automatic replies.

    Outlook Settings Dialog Box
    Select Automatic replies.
  5. Toggle the Automatic replies on button.
    Toggle Button for Automatic Replies
    Switch the “Automatic replies” toggle on.

    Tick the checkbox for Send replies only during a time period if you want to set a specific time range to send out automatic replies. Then, you can set the start and end times.

    Time Period Checkbox
    Check the box for “Send replies only during a time period.”
    Start and End Time Range
    Pick a date and time.

    Tick the checkbox for Block my calendar for this period and add a name in the text box under it if you want your Outlook calendar to reflect the dates you’re away.

    Checkbox for Blocking Calendar
    Check the box for “Block my calendar for the period.”

    Mark the checkbox for Automatically decline new invitations for events that occur during this period if you prefer.

    Checkbox for Declining Invitations
    Tick the checkbox for “Automatically decline new invitations for events that occur during this period.”

    Mark the checkbox for Decline and cancel my meetings during this period if you prefer. Choose from the list what meetings to decline and cancel.

    Checkbox for Canceling Meetings
    Tick the checkbox for “Decline and cancel my meetings during this period.”
  6. Compose your out-of-office message in the text box under “Send automatic replies inside your organization”.

    Text Box for Automatic Reply
    Compose your automatic reply.
  7. Check the box for Send replies outside your organization if you want to send automatic replies to people outside your company. This can include your clients, suppliers, contractors, and anyone else who doesn’t work in your company.
    Checkbox for Sending Replies Outside of Organization
    Tick the checkbox for “Send replies outside your organization.”

    You can check the Send replies only to contacts box to only send automatic replies to people in your contact list.

    Checkbox for Sending Replies to Contacts
    Tick the checkbox for “Send replies only to contacts.”

    Compose your automatic reply in the text box. You can copy your message or create a new one if you want to send a different reply to people outside your organization. Then, click Save.

    Automatic Replies for People Outside Organization
    Type your automatic reply.

    Save Button in Automatic Replies Dialog Box
    Click on Save.

Set Out of Office Message in the Outlook Desktop App for Microsoft 365 and Exchange Users

If you’re using an outlook.com email or a company email subscribed to Microsoft 365, the following steps apply to you.

  1. Open the Outlook app and click on File on the far-left side of the menu bar.

    File Tab in Outlook Desktop App
    Click on File.
  2. Select Automatic Replies (Out of Office) under “Account Information.”

    Automatic Replies Button in Info Options
    Click on Automatic Replies.
  3. Choose Send automatic replies.

    Send Automatic Replies Button in Dialog Box
    Click on Send automatic replies.
  4. Mark the checkbox for Only send during this time range to enable automatic replies during a specific period.
    Time Range Checkbox in Dialog Box
    Tick the checkbox for “Only send during this time range.”

    Choose the start and end times.

    Start and End Time for Automatic Replies
    Choose the start and end times.
  5. Type your automatic reply in the text box under the “Inside My Organization” tab. This message will be sent to people from within your company if they contact you during your set dates.

    Automatic Reply in the Text Box
    Write your automatic reply.
  6. Click the Outside My Organization tab if you also want to send emails to people outside your company while you’re away.

    Outside My Organization Tab
    Click on Outside My Organization.
  7. Tick the box for Auto-reply to people outside my organization.
    Auto-Reply Checkbox under Outside My Organization
    Mark the checkbox for “Auto-reply to people outside my organization.”

    Choose from either My Contacts only or Anyone outside my organization.

    Recipients of the Automatic Reply
    Select one recipient option.

    Type your automatic reply in the text box. This can also be the same message you created for people inside your organization or a completely different one solely for people outside your company. Then, press OK.

    Automatic Reply for Outside My Organization
    Write your automatic reply.

    OK Button in Automatic Replies Dialog Box
    Click on OK.

Set Out of Office Message in the Outlook Desktop App for IMAP/POP Users

The following steps are only applicable to IMAP/POP users, such as gmail.com, yahoo.com, and any other email provider outside of Microsoft.

  1. Launch Outlook and select New Email.

    New Email in Outlook Desktop App
    Click New Email.
  2. Add a subject and compose your out-of-office message. You don’t need to fill in the “To” field.

    New Email Window
    Write your message.
  3. Go to File in the top-left corner.

    File in New Email Window
    Click File.
  4. Click on Save As in the left sidebar.

    Save As Option
    Select Save As.
  5. Select Outlook Template in the “Save as type” drop-down menu.

    Save as Type Drop-Down Menu
    Choose Outlook Template.
  6. Hit Save.

    Save Button in Save As Window
    Click Save.
  7. Go back to your email window and click on the X icon to close it.

    Close Icon in New Email Window
    Close the window.
  8. Select Yes in the pop-up window.

    Yes Button in Pop-Up Window
    Click Yes.
  9. Return to the Outlook window and go to File.

    File in Outlook Desktop App
    Select File.
  10. In the Info tab, choose Manage Rules & Alerts.

    Rules and Alerts Option
    Click Manage Rules & Alerts.
  11. In the “Email Rules” tab, click on New Rule.

    New Rule Option in Rules and Alerts Window
    Select New Rule.
  12. Under “Start from a blank rule” section, select Apply rule on messages I receive. Then, press Next.
    Apply on Received Messages Option
    Click Apply rule on messages I receive.

    Next Button in Start From a Template
    Click Next.
  13. In the window for “Which condition(s) do you want to check?,” click Next.

    Next Button in Which Conditions do You Want to Check
    Click Next.
  14. Select Yes in the pop-up window.

    Yes in Pop-Up Window
    Click Yes.
  15. In the “What do you want to do with the message?” window, mark the checkbox for reply using a specific template.

    Checkbox for Reply Using a Specific Template
    Tick the box for “reply using a specific template.”
  16. In “Step 2: Edit the rule description,” click a specific template.

    Step 2 Section in Rules Wizard Window
    Click a specific template.
  17. Click the Look In drop-down menu.

    Look In Drop-Down Menu
    Click Look In.
  18. Select User Templates in File System.

    User Templates in File System Under Look In
    Choose User Templates in File System.
  19. Select the template you already created.

    Template List
    Click your template.
  20. Click Open.

    Open Button in Select a Ready Template Window
    Click Open.
  21. Then, click Next.

    Next Button in What Do You Want to Do With the Message
    Click Next.
  22. In the “Are there any exceptions?” window, click Next (unless you want to add an exception).

    Next Button in Are There Any Exceptions
    Click Next.
  23. Type a name for the rule under “Step 1: Specify a name for this rule.”

    Text Box for Rule Name
    Enter your rule name.
  24. Under “Step 2: Setup rule options”, keep the box for Turn on this rule checked if you want your rule to be applied right away. Your automatic reply will be sent to all messages you receive moving forward. If you don’t want to activate your rule yet, uncheck the box.

    Checkbox for Turn On This Rule
    Keep the checkbox for “Turn on this rule” ticked.
  25. Select Finish.

    Finish Button in Rules Wizard Window
    Click Finish.
  26. In the “Rules and Alerts” window, select Apply.

    Apply Button on Rules and Alerts Window
    Click Apply.
  27. Then, click OK.

    OK Button on Rules and Alerts Window
    Click OK.

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