Enable Automatic Replies for another user or additional mailbox

I’ve been granted permissions on some of the mailbox folders of my colleague. As he has become ill, I’ve been asked to enable his Automatic Replies (Out of Office) feature for his mailbox. However, when I select his Inbox folder and enable it, it only works for my own mailbox.

How can I enable the Out of Office function for this additional mailbox as well?

Automatic Replies buttonMost of Outlook’s Exchange specific functionalities such as Automatic Replies (also known as “Out of Office Assistant” or “OOF”) only work for the main mailbox and not for delegate or Shared Mailboxes.

If you have been assigned Full Access permissions to this mailbox by your Exchange administrator (verify this with him/her if you do not know; delegate permissions are not enough!) or know the credentials of the other mailbox, then there are 3 ways in which you can enable the Automatic Replies for a shared or additional mailbox.

Exchange Administrators can also enable Automatic Replies for another user without logging on to the mailbox by using an Exchange PowerShell command, the Exchange Admin Center or a 3rd party management tool.

User Method 1: Outlook Web App

Outlook Web App (OWA) buttonProbably the easiest way to go is to use Outlook Web App. You can ask your mail administrator for the URL if you don’t know it. In Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016, you may find the URL in the Info section when pressing on the File menu tab.

When you have been granted Full Access permissions, then you can logon with your own username and password and click on your own picture or name in the top-right corner to get to the option to open another mailbox.

Open another mailbox... command in OWA 2013.
Open another mailbox… command in OWA 2013.

If you haven’t been granted Full Access permissions but do have separate logon credentials for the additional mailbox, you can use that to logon instead.

Once logged in, you can enable Automatic Replies in the following way:

  • Outlook on the Web (Office 365 for Business – Exchange Online)
    Gear icon (left side of your picture in the top right corner)-> Automatic Replies
  • OWA 2016
    Gear icon (left side of your picture in the top right corner)-> Automatic Replies
  • OWA 2013
    Gear icon (right side of your name)-> Set automatic replies
  • OWA 2010
    Options (below your name)-> Set Automatic Replies…
  • OWA 2007
    Options (left side of your name)-> Out of Office Assistant

Extra Tip!
You can use the “In Private” or “Incognito” mode of your Internet browser to prevent automatic logon or to be able to stay logged on to your own mailbox as well.

User Method 2: Additional Exchange account

Add Exchange Mailbox buttonIf you are using Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 and either have been granted Full Access permissions to the mailbox or have been provided separate credentials for it, then you can also configure this shared mailbox as an additional Exchange account rather than to add it as a secondary mailbox of your own.

To do this, click on the File tab and choose Add Account. When setting up the account, Auto Account Setup may recognize your main mailbox linked to your user account. When this happens, specify the email address of the shared mailbox instead.

For more details and screenshots of this process see Adding an additional or shared mailbox from the same Exchange organization to Outlook.

Once the mailbox has been added, select its Inbox folder and enable Automatic Replies as you would normally do for your own mailbox.

Note: You should not do this if you have been assigned as a delegate as well for this mailbox. In that case, it is recommended to use a separate Mail Profile instead.

User Method 3: Separate Mail Profile

Mail Applet Control Panel buttonIf you want to enable Automatic Replies for the shared mailbox in Outlook but are still using Outlook 2007 or previous, then you’ll have to use the Mail applet in Control Panel to create an additional Mail Profile.

You’d then set up this Mail Profile with the shared mailbox as the main mail account rather than your own. This also requires you that you either have been granted Full Access permissions to this shared mailbox or have been provided credentials for it.

Just like the “Additional Exchange account” method above, Auto Account Setup might try to configure it automatically with your own mailbox. You’d then have to specify a different address or configure the account manually as well.

Admin Method 1: Exchange PowerShell

Exchange PowerShell buttonIf you are an Exchange administrator, then using the Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration Exchange PowerShell command is the supported and native way to go to enable Automatic Replies without logging on to the mailbox itself.

Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration -Identity <username> -AutoReplyState Enabled -InternalMessage "Internal auto-reply message." -ExternalMessage "External auto-reply message."

Admin Method 2: Exchange Admin Center

Exchange Admin Center buttonAnother way to do this as an Exchange Administrator is via the Exchange Admin Center (also known as ECP).

  1. Logon to the Exchange Admin Center.
  2. Change the management scope;
    • Exchange 2010
      In the top left corner, next to Mail> Options, click on: Manage My Organization
    • Exchange 2013, Exchange 2016 and Office 365 Exchange Online
      Click on your name or image in the top right corner.
  3. Choose: Another user…
  4. Select the user that you want to manage.
  5. In the page that opens, you can now set up an automatic reply message (in Exchange 2010: Tell people you’re on vacation).

Admin Method 3: CodeTwo Out of Office Manager

CodeTwo OOF Manager buttonIf you regularly need to manage the Automatic Replies setting for your users, then both admin methods mentioned above can become quite cumbersome.

CodeTwo Out of Office Manager simplifies this task and also offers some other management features which Exchange doesn’t offer itself.

Some of the key features are;

  • Central management of Out of Office replies.
  • Set up Out of Office reply for another user.
  • Delegate to HR managers, receptionists, assistants or team leaders.
  • Plan ahead for months.
  • Reset Out of Office address history to re-activate replies.
  • Schedule Out of Office replies with a recurrence schedule.
  • Slick and clutter-free calendar view.
  • One template for multiple users.
  • HTML simple to use editor.
  • Supports Exchange on-premise, Office 365 and other hosted Exchange environments.

For more information see: CodeTwo Out of Office Manager.