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 Delegated 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 on the Web (OWA)

Outlook on the Web (OWA) buttonProbably the easiest way to go is to use Outlook on the Web (OWA). You can ask your mail administrator for the URL if you don’t know it. In Outlook, 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 Outlook on the Web (Microsoft 365 - Exchange Online).
“Open another mailbox” command in Outlook on the Web (Microsoft 365 - Exchange Online).

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 (Microsoft 365 for Business - Exchange Online)
    Gear icon (left side of your picture in the top right corner)-> in the search box type: Automatic replies
  • Outlook on the Web 2019
    Gear icon (left side of your picture in the top right corner)-> Automatic replies
  • Outlook on the Web 2016
    Gear icon (left side of your picture in the top right corner)-> Automatic replies

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 buttonWhen you 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 buttonAnother way to enable Automatic Replies for a shared mailbox in Outlook is 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. Click on your name or image in the top right corner.
  3. In the flyout that opens choose;
    • Microsoft 365 Exchange Online
      View another mailbox
    • Exchange 2016 and Exchange 2019
      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.

Admin Method 3: CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro

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

CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro simplifies this task with its Auto Respond module and also offers some other management features which Exchange doesn’t offer itself.

Some of the key features of the Auto Respond module are;

  • Centrally managed and fully customizable auto-replies for all or selected users.
  • Different automatic replies applied to different senders, recipients, type or content of an original message, etc.
  • Attachments automatically added to auto-reply messages.
  • Auto-replies for disabled Active Directory accounts.
  • Editable From, To, CC and BCC fields.
  • The ability to modify or tag subjects of messages.
  • An entirely customizable body of an auto-reply message with full support for HTML formatting.
  • Loop protection to prevent auto-reply loops.
  • And a whole lot more!

For more information see: CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

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