* Note: with the advent of Outlook, this process has recently changed. Below are the new instructions. *
You don’t want people to think you’re ignoring them if you don’t respond to their emails, right? But you often don’t have a choice when you’re out of the office (e.g., when you’re sick, on vacation, on sabbatical, on a leave of absence). The solution is to create an automatic email reply message to let them know you’re away and when you’ll be back. Outlook makes this easy.
To set up an automatic email reply message, follow the steps below. (Most steps have corresponding numbers in the illustrations.)
- Open Outlook.
- Click “File” in the upper left-hand corner of your window.
- If it’s not already selected, click “Info” (in the left-hand column). You will now be looking at your email account settings.
- Select the large box that says “Automatic Replies” (circled in red below):
- A dialog box will open, like this:
- Select the “Send automatic replies” radio button.
- Check the “Only send during this time range” box.
- Enter the start date and time, and the end date and time, for your auto-response to be in effect.
- If it’s not already selected, click the “Inside My Organization” tab and enter the message that you would like sent to internal Penn Staters.
- Click the “Outside My Organization” tab.
- If the text box area is grayed out, click the “Auto-reply to people outside my organization” checkbox just below the tab label:
- Enter the message that you would like to be sent to outside correspondents.
- Click “OK”.
(Note: The ”Rules...” button at the bottom left has advanced features, such as “all email from my boss should automatically be moved into this folder.” You can explore this if you like.)
Tips for your away message
- Privacy/safety: Tell people only what they need to know, no more. Don’t tell people where you are; simply state that you are out of the office. For example, you don’t want to inform strangers that you’re away on vacation—that tells them that your house is empty and would make a good target for a burglary.
- If at all possible, be sure to state who can give them assistance in the meantime, if necessary.
“I am out of the office and won't have an opportunity to read or respond to email until my return on <day>, <date>. If you need immediate assistance, please contact <name> at <phone> or <email address>.”