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Out of Office exceptions: Don’t reply to everyone

I’d like to enable the Out of Office Assistant, but it really shouldn’t send out an Automatic Reply to various addresses, like for instance mailing lists which I am a member of.

How can I prevent the Out of Office Assistant to auto reply to certain addresses?

You cannot set this level of exception on the Out of Office Assistant (OOF) in Outlook. However, you can emulate this by using a rule.

  1. Open the Rules Wizard;
    • Outlook 2007 and previous
      Tools-> Rules and Alerts…
    • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
      File-> Manage Rules & Alerts
  2. New Rule…
  3. In the section “Start from a blank rule” choose;
    Check messages when they arrive
  4. In the next screen you can select the conditions.
    • Select “from people or distribution list” when you only want to send the message to a limited amount of people.
    • If you want to send it to everyone and only want to prevent it from being send to a limited amount of people, do not set any conditions at all.
  5. Click Next to go to the Actions screen
  6. Here select: have server reply using a specific message
    1. In the bottom screen click “a specific message” to create a custom reply message.
    2. In the message screen that pops-up, type your subject and message and then click Save & Close.
  7. Click next to advance to the next screen to set any exceptions.
    • It is advised to set at least some exception conditions on the subject with words such as reply, failed, undeliverable, etc…
      This way you can prevent endless mail loops between 2 mail servers to occur.
    • If you didn’t set a condition in step 4, then select the the exception “from people or distribution list” to prevent the auto reply to be send out to those people.
  8. Once you’ve done that, click Next to give the rule a name such as “Custom OOF”.
  9. Click Finish and then OK to close the open windows.

Now you can enable the rule when you are away and disable it again when you are back. The rules wizard also allows you to set a date span so it can automatically turn itself on/off.

Note 1: If you are using Outlook 2007/2010/2013 in combination with Exchange 2007/2010/2013 or using Exchange 2007/2010/2013 and have access to Outlook Web Access (OWA), then you can configure the OOF to only reply to internal users or set different replies for internal and external users. You can combine this with the above rule to only send the OOF to internal users and configure the rule to only reply to a certain amount of external people.

Note 2: By secure default Exchange is configured not to allow auto replies, auto forwards and OOF messages to the Internet. Your mail administrator can enable it by using the steps indicated here.



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