Using Automatic Replies with Office 365

If you’re using Office 365 you will have access to the Automatic Replies feature (also known as Out of Office). This feature allows you to set your email to automatically reply to senders, for example when you’re on vacation or otherwise are unavailable for an extended time. This article goes through how to configure and use this feature on your PC, Outlook on the web and your mobile devices as well as how to configure automatic replies for shared mailboxes.

The Outlook desktop application

With the Outlook application active click on File > Automatic Replies (Out of Office). This will open the Automatic Replies dialog window, by default Do not send automatic replies is selected. To enable it we’ll click Send automatic replies then you can optionally choose a date range for automatic replies to be active and what the message should be. If you do not choose a date range then the automatic replies will be active as soon as you finish and click the OK button.

The Automatic Replies button after clicking File in Outlook

The Automatic Replies window

Take special notice of the two tabs Inside My Organization and Outside My Organization – these allow you to differentiate between messages sent to people inside and outside your Office 365 organization. There is also an option under the Outside My Organization tab to enable auto-replies specifically for those senders. So if you prefer you can have auto-replies only trigger when someone inside your organization emails you and have nothing happen when someone external to the organization emails you.

Further customization is possible by using clicking the Rules… button located in the bottom left of the window but that is beyond the scope of this article so we won’t go into detail with that feature here.

Once you’ve finished setting your message and configuring settings click the OK button in the bottom right of the window and your configuration will be saved. If you need to disable or modify anything just go back to File > Automatic Replies (Out of Office) in order to reconfigure anything to your preferences!

The Outlook web application

First make sure you’re logged into the Outlook web app with your Office 365 account. Once you’re signed in click the gear icon in the top right of the page and then click Automatic Replies from the Settings menu that appears. By default Don’t send automatic replies is selected, to enable auto-replies click on Send automatic replies. Take note that you can choose a date range if you’d like to only have auto-replies happen for a specific period of time; to enable this click Send replies only during this time period and then choose the range.

Automatic Replies listed in Settings

The configuration screen for Automatic Replies for Outlook on the web

The first text box you see is for the message that users inside your Office 365 organization will receive when they email you. The second text box lower down is for the message that users outside of your Office 365 organization will see when they email you, so you can customize your message based on who you receive emails from. If you do not want external senders to receive an auto-reply then un-check the box Send automatic reply messages to senders outside my organization.

When you’ve finished setting the message and options to your preferences, click on the OK button at the top of the Automatic replies pane and it will save and become active (if you enabled it). If you need to make changes or any other changes to it just go back to the gear icon then click back into Automatic replies and make any changes you need.

The Outlook mobile application

Open up the Outlook app on your mobile device. From the default view of your Inbox inside the app, tap the 3 horizontal lines icon in the top left, then tap the gear icon in the bottom left. Next tap your Office 365 account listed under Accounts. By default Automatic replies should be set to Off, tap on Automatic replies then tap the switch icon beside Automatic replies to enable it. You can leave it with the default option to Reply to everyone. If you prefer you can customize it so only people inside your Office 365 organization receive an auto-reply or even set up different messages based on whether the sender is inside or outside your Office 365 organization.

Once you’ve configured the settings to your liking then tap the check-mark icon in the top right to save the changes. If you need to make a change you can always go back into the Automatic replies and re-configure it to your preferences, otherwise you should be all set now!

Navigating to the Automatic Replies section in the Outlook mobile app

Setting up Automatic Replies within the mobile app

You can leave it with the default option to Reply to everyone. If you prefer you can customize it so only people inside your Office 365 organization receive an auto-reply or even set up different messages based on whether the sender is inside or outside your Office 365 organization. Once you’ve configured the settings to your liking then tap the check-mark icon in the top right to save the changes. If you need to make a change you can always go back into the Automatic replies and re-configure it to your preferences, otherwise you should be all set now!

Shared Mailboxes

If you have a shared mailbox that you’d like an Automatic Reply set up for the steps are very similar to setting it up in the Outlook web app with some minor differences. Log into Outlook on the web with an account that has the appropriate permissions to the shared mailbox.

Once you’re signed in, click on your profile photo in the top right of the page (it may take a few moments to appear in some cases) and then click Open another mailbox… from the pane that appears, type in the shared mailbox address and click the Open button. A new window will open and show you the inbox of the shared mailbox. Next click on the gear icon in the top right, then click Automatic Replies and configure the replies to your preferences as you would when setting up Automatic Replies for the Outlook web app as described above.

When you’re done click OK at the top of the pane to save your configuration. You can use this same method to disable or make other changes in the future as you may need.

The Open another mailbox option under the profile menu

You should now have all the information you need to set up the Automatic Replies feature of Office 365 however you see fit. If we missed anything or you need further assistance don’t hesitate to contact us!

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