Out of Office Replies and Automatic Email Replies


Updated: 13th February 2017

out-officeAn out of office reply is an example of an automatic email  response.

Out of Office Email reply messages are common for business email and are mainly used to notify the sender that the recipient is away from the office on vacation.

Because email clients like Windows Live Mail aren’t always connected to the Internet Out of office replies are generally implemented at the email server.

Automatic Out of Office Replies with Outlook

This is covered in detail  by Microsoft here. What is important to realise is this functionality relies on Outlook being connected to an Exchange email server.

The functionality is implemented on the exchange server but you can enable/disable and configure it from the client (outlook).

If you aren’t using an exchange server email account with outlook then you can’t use this method.

Automatic Out of Office Replies with Yahoo and Gmail

Yahoo Mail,Gmail and Outlook.com all support automatic out of office replies.

To enable them you need to login to your email account using the web browser.

On Yahoo Mail

Go to settings>holiday response

Yahoo-holiday-response

Enable out of office responses and set the dates that the response will be active then enter your response text in the message box.

You can send a test response to yourself to see what it look like. You can also set different responses depending on the sender domain.

If you enter the domain names (2 maximum) and then enter auto response text in the text box below then Email from these two domains will get the alternative holiday response.

yahoo-holiday-response-domains

This is useful as you can send more open messages to trusted domains and less open to untrusted domains.

The sender will receive the message with the subject prefixed with Auto- response as shown below:

auto-response-yahoo

Although it might seem rather cool it does represent a security issue and I would advise against using it.

Out of Office Messages

Although auto replies might seem rather cool they do represent a security issue and you should use them cautiously.

You should consider using separate messages for trusted and untrusted senders.

This can be don in Yahoo mail using the domain options. The trusted message might contain more detail like:

  • How long you are away and when you will return
  • Alternative contact details

Here is a quick template

Hi
Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office from [DATE] until [RETURN DATE] and will not have access to my emails.

If you need assistance please contact [Alternative contact email] or you can in emergencies reach me on [PHONE NUMBER].

Best Regards,
[Your Name]

The untrusted one should be more vague and

  • Not give exact dates.
  • Provide generic contact numbers and email addresses

Out of Office reply Example:

Hi
Thank you for your email. I an currently out of the office and will reply to your email as soon as I return.

If you need assistance please contact [Alternative contact emailsales@domain.com] or you can in emergencies reach me on [PHONE NUMBER-Main sales number].

Best Regards,
[Your Name]

Gmail doesn’t support multiple responses but lets you restrict the out of office response to your contacts.

gmail-out-office-security

From a professional viewpoint keep them plain and simple and don’t try to be funny.

AutoResponders and Out of Office Replies

An out of office reply is an example of an automatic email  response. However email autoresponders cover a larger scope.

Email providers used by small business will often provide simple autoresponders that can be configured to send a response to all email regardless of time.

This type of autoresponder is often used for sending general enquiry information

On Bluehost login to your control panel and go to the email section:

bluehost-autoresponder-1

Click the autoresponder icon and use the form to add a new autoresponder

bluehost-autoresponder-2

Note: With this type of auto responder the email is usually discarded and not delivered to a mailbox.

Common Questions and Answers

Q- If I configure and Out of office reply will the mail still be delivered to my Mailbox?

A- Yes if you are using Yahoo Mail,Gmail or outlook.com with the out of office feature. If it is a general autoresponder then probably not

Q-My Email provider/systems doesn’t support out of office responses can I use a message rule on my email client?

A- No not really as the rule and response requires that your client connects to the Email server to retrieve the email and then generate the auto response.

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