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Outlook: Out of Office Assistant

When you are away from your e-mail for a week or more, you may want to let people know that you will not be checking your mail. You can configure the "Out of Office Assistant" to reply with a "vacation" message to people who send e-mail to you. Outlook 2010, 2007 and Outlook Web Access (OWA) offer a nice AutoReply feature called the Out of the Office Assistant.  The Out of Office Assistant runs on the server, so Outlook does not have to be running to process the automatic replies.

Once the Out of Office Assistant is turned on, it will send an automatic reply ONCE to each sender, even if the sender sends you multiple messages over a period of time. If you wish, you can set up rules (see below) restricting to whom the message are sent (i.e. to exclude listservs).

Note: it's important to be careful what you say in a vacation message, since it potentially could go out to anyone, including spammers.  You might say something along the lines of  "I will be out of the office until xxx, and will not be checking email.  If you need immediate assistance, please send a message to xxx, or call xxx."  


You should turn the "Out of Office Assistant" on before you leave. When you return be sure to turn the "Out of Office Assistant" off.


Outlook 2010: Activate the Out of Office Assistant

  1. In Outlook 2010 select your Mail folder and click on File | Automatic Replies.

  2. Select the Send Out of Office auto-replies option. (Note: the Out of Office Assistant can be turned off by selecting the Do not send Out of Office auto-replies option.

  3. In the 'AutoReply once for each sender with the following message:' box with the Inside My Organization tab selected, type the reply you wish to send to e-mail senders inside the College.  If you want to also send a reply to e-mail senders outside of the College, select the tab for Outside My Organization and click on the checkbox for Auto-reply to people outside my organization. Click on the radio button for sending to either My Contacts only or Anyone outside my organization.  Add the same reply or type a new one in the message box. 

  4. Click the OK button.


You can use an "Out of Office" rule to automatically forward incoming e-mail to another address (e.g., either another Hawkmail user or an external address).

To create a rule:

  1. Using Outlook 2010 in the Inbox, click on File | Automatic Replies. 

  2. Click on the Rules... button

  3. Click on the Add Rule... button.

  4. The Edit Rule window allows you to set the conditions that will trigger the rule and the actions that the rule will perform. If no condition is specified the rule will act on all incoming mail.

  5. In the 'Perform these actions:' section, check the Forward option and in the 'To' box, specify the address to which you wish to forward incoming mail.

  6. From the 'Method' drop down list select 'Leave message intact' - THIS MUST BE SET to stop the message from potentially bouncing between one mailbox and the other.

  7. The forward action forwards only a copy of the incoming mail to the specified destination. The original message will still be in your Inbox.

  8. Click OK. (Note: a confirmation box will appear to warn you that the rule will act on all incoming messages).

  9. Click on the Yes button. Then click OK to close the "Out of Office Assistant" dialog box.

Note: You can also create Rules to move incoming messages to folders and to delete incoming messages.



Outlook Web Client: Activate the Out of Office Assistant


  1. Login to the Outlook Web Client (
  2. Then click on Options in the top right corner
  3. Click on Set Automatic Replies
  4. Then click on the "Send Automatic Replies"
  5. Create your out of office message
  6. Now your out of office response will be activated.




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