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Out of Office rule doesn’t auto-forward my mail

In my Out of Office settings I’ve created a rule to forward my mail to another e-mail address whenever I enable the OOF.

However, this doesn’t seem to function. When I tested it, I did get the OOF notification, but the message never got forwarded.

What am I doing wrong and how can I get this to work?

Chances are that you haven’t done anything wrong but that the Exchange server of your company has been configured not to allow automatic forwarding to the Internet (which is the secure default). The rule will work if this is configured to forward the message to another address within your organization.

Changing automatic forward settings in Exchange

Instead of forwarding the mail to an external address while your OOF, personally, I’d ask my Exchange administrator about the possibilities of externally accessing corporate mail directly for instance via OWA, Outlook Anywhere or VPN.

If that isn’t an option but there isn’t an objection to allow automatic forwards, your Exchange administrator can configure it in the following way; Allow Automatic Forwarding/Replying to the Internet.

Note for administrators: This is also the place where you can configure whether or not OOF messages will be sent to people outside of the company.

Allow Automatic Forwarding/Replying to the Internet
Automatic forwarding/replying to the Internet is disabled by default in Exchange.

Additional external forwarding address on the mailbox

Another way to go would be to ask if your administrator can set a forwarding address on your mailbox on the Exchange server. This can be configured in such a way that messages will arrive both in your corporate mailbox as well as in your external/private mailbox. Of course this will then be for all messages and not only when your OOF is on.

Setting a forwarding rule for when OOF is enabled

If automatic forwarding to the Internet is allowed, you can set the OOF rule to forward your messages in the following way;

  • Outlook 2003 and previous
    Tools-> Out of Office Assistant…-> button: Add Rule…
  • Outlook 2007
    Tools-> Out of Office Assistant…-> button: Rules…-> Add Rule…
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    File-> Automatic Replies-> button: Rules…-> Add Rule…

When you want all messages to be forwarded when the OOF is enabled, leave all other options blank and only enable the Forward option. Type the address you want the message to be forwarded to or press the To… button to select an address from your Address Book.

Setting an OOF rule requires you to open quite some dialogs on top of each other. (click on image to enlarge)
Setting an OOF rule requires you to open quite some dialogs on top of each other.(click on image to enlarge)