Outlook 2013 or 2010: Set Out of Office Message

Of you are an Microsoft Outlook 2013 or 2010 user in an Exchange environment, you can easily set an Out of Office message if you’re going to be away for a few days. We’ll show you how it’s done with this tutorial.

Note: These steps only work if you are using Microsoft Outlook on an Exchange server. If you wish to set this up in a non-Exchange environment, see this comment from Kate.

1. In Outlook, select the File menu.

2. Click Info on the left side.

3. Click Automatic Replies (Out of Office). If this option is grayed out, you may not be connected to an Exchange server and will not be able to use this feature.

OOOO Automatic Replies selection

4. Select the Send automatic replies option. You can also check Only send during this time range: and select a time frame to send the replies.

5. Select the Inside My Organization tab and type the reply you would like sent to your co-workers who are on the same mail system.

6. Select the Outside My Organization tab and type the reply you would like sent to people outside of your organization.

OOO Reply

You have successfully setup an automatic Out of Office Message in Outlook 2013 or 2010.


  1. Linda Montgomery says

    I work from home and do not need an exchange server. I should be able to set an out-of-office auto reply where I’m on an exchange server or not. This is stupid.

  2. Kay says

    I have the same problem as Chris (October 31, 2012 at 12:50 am)
    I only have 3/4 options in the info pane, the missing one is Automatic Replies.

    What is the reason for this?

  3. Bakul Dalal says

    Out of office did not work for me in Outlook 2010 in non-exchange server environment. I have a gmail account.

    I was able to work around this by going to Gmail account online and change the settings and turn on the vacation message there.

  4. Chris says

    Any ideas if I have Outlook 2010, but dont have the “Automatic Replies” button? I only have 3 buttons; Account Settings, Mailbox Cleanup and Rules and Alerts! Have I been sold a dud???

  5. Janice says

    Kate, your advise worked for me, I’ve been trying to get an auto reply for months and no could help, thanks a million.

  6. Janice says

    Brilliant, This worked for me, I’ve been trying for months to find out how to set up auto reply. So thank you very very much.

  7. Bob says

    Outlook is an application that can either access an Exchange server, or access your POP/IMAP accounts (or both). If you do NOT have an Exchange server then it’s impossible to send an out of the office response unless your computer is turned on and checking your email for you. If you don’t think that’s the case, download Eudora, Thunderbird or any of the other apps that are out there. What you want can’t be done short of logging in through webmail and setting one up IF your ISP or email system allows that.

    Don’t blame MS for something that you can’t grasp.

  8. Kasey says

    Kirsten is correct above. It is not possible for me to use the regular Automatic Replies box in Outlook directly. (Of course it should be, but it is not.) But if you can log on remotely to your business e-mail account, even while sitting at your desk, Out of Office is available under the Options section, and is as easy as you would expect it to be.

    Microsoft, please find a fix for this simple business function!

  9. Rose says

    It does work for pop3 and imap accounts. I downloaded the microsoft exchange server as suggested, clicked on the ‘add ons’ in file – options – add ons to ensure it was enabled. Restart your computer to install all downloads properly. Follow the rules that Kate said at the top, ensure to run your rules and then its a problem of the past. Use plain text only, no images or html configurations. It does work in outlook 2010, it wasn’t easy trying to figure it out but once you do, you’ll realise that it was quite simple. I’m not computer savvy, i’m not a fan of outlook but hopefully now that its working that will change.

  10. Dirk says

    Good luck with Apple. Bite as much as you want but they still require the same thing. An Exchange Server. :) or to set up a rule which auto-replies but the program has to be up and running to do so. I’m not a fan of MS. I’m just saying that we have to be realistic. No program (at least not yet) is capable of functioning if the software is turned off. It has to have a “server” to automate that function. :)

  11. Stephen says

    I guess the problem here is that Outlook doesn’t explain the different mail server types clearly…

    It isn’t Microsoft’s fault that autoreplies can’t be done easily if you aren’t on an Exchange server.

    The point is that you are telling your email server to reply on your behalf. Most email servers don’t support this as standard so it is your internet service provider who isn’t providing the functionality, not Microsoft.

    In general you will only be on an exchange server in a business networked environment and you will probably know about it or have an IT guy to ask. If you pay for your internet access yourself you are most likely on a POP server, maybe IMAP, neither of which can do this.

  12. Kirsten says

    I am unable to do put up an out of office alert in Outlook 2010 for whatever reason but found a very simple solution.
    If you have a Bt business account you simply sign in to Bt office mail online and set one up using the options setting on the left panel. It will then work perfectly without the need to change anything on Outlook. Magic!

    I am still astonished that they have overlooked something which is so essential to many people working in an office environment. Poor show.

  13. Mic says

    create a rule if you arent on Exchange server….but you will need to leave your outlook client running.

  14. dave says

    I agree with what Jace says. MS is making this WAAAYY harder than it needs to be. PC opperating systems should be like a car, put the key in and go, sure you have to put in some gas, change oil, etc, but you don’t have to know what the valve clearance is or how to rebuild the transmission to get to work every day!
    I may just have to bite the Apple next time!

  15. Jace says

    Thanks for writing the article about how to find something that shouldn’t have been hard to find. It helped me find it. Now I just want to complain. I shouldn’t do it but I am going to do it. I will never ever come back here so you probably shouldn’t read the rest nor should you reply. I hope someone gets something out of it, I hate to waste bits but I am human and we are good at that. It is pretty amazing how hard it is to find this, and once you do it is so clunky and limited it is appalling. 10+ years of the email/calendar software and they can’t even get something this simple to work well… I think I have outlook 2010 but I can’t even figure out how to get to the “about” screen to see if that is true. It should be easy help->about, done. Oh no that would be too easy we have to make it hard don’t we. The out of office assistant should be MUCH easier to find and should include a template format that will drop in dates if you want so you don’t have to rewrite it. It should offer the ability to sync with the calendar “out of office” appointments (show time as) for automatic on/off. This is so rudimentary I feel I could probably do better with some kind of system involving marbles and strings and pulleys. Very frustrating.

  16. Jannik says

    Come on, its not that difficult. You need the mailserver to respond on your behalf, thats why you need your mailbox on an exchangeserver.

    POP3 accounts is not connected to a server and is only a very simple way of downloading your messages to your local harddrive.

  17. Easy_When_You_Know_How says

    Outlook 2010 – Just click on File (top left corner)- in the middle pane theres around 2 options down (accounts Settings..etc).

    2nd one down, simply click on AUTOMATIC REPLIES (OUT OF OF OFFICE) and the out of options comes up – its just 2 clicks from inbox screen )

  18. Jim says

    Re: Sandy’s message from 03/17/2011. Make sure that the service “Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Assistants” is running on the Mailbox server role. We had the same problem and found the service was stopped.

  19. Sandy says

    I am trying to remove the out of office reply. I went to manage rules and unchecked the box. This did not work. I then deleted the rule. My outlook is still sending out of message reply’s. What can i do to cance these?

  20. Kate says

    if you DO NOT have exchange, this works :) i use it.

    Step 1: Create a message template
    TIP Download a formal or informal out of office message template from Microsoft Office.com.
    1. On the Home tab, in the New group, click New E-mail.
    2. On the Format Text tab, in the Format group, click Plain Text.
    3. In the message body, type the message that you want to send as your automated reply.
    4. In the message window, click the File tab, and then click Save As.
    5. In the Save As dialog box, in the Save as type list, click Outlook Template (*.oft).
    6. In the File name box, type a name for your message template, and then click Save.
    Step 2: Create a rule to automatically reply to new e-mail messages
    Do one of the following:
    1. On the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules, and then click Manage Rules & Alerts.
    2. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, click New Rule.
    3. Under Start from a blank rule, click Apply rules on messages I receive, and then click Next.
    4. Under Which condition(s) do you want to check?, select the sent only to me check box and any other criteria that you want, and then click Next.
    5. Under What do you want to do with the message?, select the reply using a specific template check box.
    6. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value), click a specific template.
    7. In the Select a Reply Template dialog box, in the Look In box, click User Templates in File System.
    8. Select the template that you created in the previous section or one that you have created or downloaded, and then click Open.
    9. Click Next.
    10. Select the check boxes for any exceptions to the auto-reply rule. It is common not to add any exceptions.
    11. Click Next.
    12. Under Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, type a name for the auto-reply rule, and then click Finish.
    IMPORTANT For the Rules Wizard to send a reply automatically, Outlook must be running and configured to check periodically for new messages.
    The reply using a specific template rule in the Rules Wizard sends your automated reply only once to each sender during a single session. A session is each time you start Outlook until you exit the application. This rule prevents Outlook from sending repetitive replies to a single sender from whom you receive multiple messages. During a session, Outlook keeps track of the list of users to whom it has responded. If you exit and then restart Outlook, however, this is considered a new session and the list of the senders who have received automated replies is reset.
    Turn off automatic replies
    To turn off a rule that is sending automatic replies, do the following:
    1. On the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules, and then click Manage Rules & Alerts.
    2. On the E-mail Rules tab, under Rule, clear the check box for the rule you want to turn off.

  21. VRBones says

    The attendant only works with exchange because you need something to reply on your behalf. You are telling the EXCHANGE SERVER to send out the message for you as you won’t be firing up your email reader (otherwise you could simply reply to the messages yourself).

    When you are on POP /IMAP / Webmail, Outlook only talks to the server when you connect, and you specifically want a reply to occur when you AREN’T connected.

    For some services (especially webmail), you will find something similar to the automated attendant when you connect directly to the server itself, not through Outlook or any other mail client.

  22. Robert says

    The issue with auto response goes back as far as 2003. I’ve seen blogs back to 2003 with customers who are very frustrated. I’ve spent hours on the phone with Microsoft to no avail. They act like I am the only person with this problem. There has not been a repair for it. If you are not on Exchange Server you are out of luck. I was really counting on 2010 having a fix for it…alas I am wrong.

  23. Judy says

    Following the thread above…IS it possible to set up an out-of-office reply if I don’t have an Exchange Server account? I’ll be gone for 2 weeks…

  24. CHERYL says

    Yes very frustrating!! Also a POP account. Why does Outlook Home & business 2010 not have the auto reply??
    Grrrr :/

  25. ivana says

    It doesn´t work for POP accounts, Im trying but it´s not working. It´s frustrating as I´ll be off for 2 weeks and can´t put on the out of office message. Very bad product.

  26. Lynn says

    My account is a POP/SMPT, whatever that means. I followed the alternative suggested using a rule that returns a template to each email received and it didn’t work. Really disappointing since this is one of the two features that led me to buy Outlook rather than just use Microsoft Mail Live in the Windows 7 system.

  27. Matt says

    File – Info – Account Settings
    You will either have 1 of 4 type of accounts:
    1: Internet Email
    2: Microsoft Exchange
    3: SMS
    4: Other

  28. Meghan says

    1. “File” – got it.
    2. “Info tab” – got it.
    3. “Automatic replies” – DON’T GOT IT! I don’t even see this option. How do I know whether or not I’m on an Exchange server?

  29. SReid says

    Worked for me — but you have to use the fixed beginning instructions that Chantal added on April 1 2010. Also – you must be on EXCHANGE for this to work!

  30. Greg Rickel says

    This does not work, even with the added step. I keep getting a message which says that the server is not available but it clearly is. 2010 is a nightmare, hard to navigate, no good help online.

  31. Chantal says

    Thanks…no problem.Add this first step.
    1. Choose “File
    2. Choose “Info” (to the left)
    3. Click automatic replies
    4. put a message in out of office

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