Out of office message FAQs

8 min read

What is a good message for auto-reply?

A good message for an auto-reply depends on the context of the situation. However, here is a general template that you can use as a starting point:

Subject: Auto-Reply: [Your Name/Position] is currently unavailable

Dear [Recipient],

Thank you for your email. I’m sorry to inform you that I’m currently unavailable and unable to respond to emails at this time. I will be out of the office from [start date] to [end date] with no access to email.

If you require urgent assistance, please contact [name and contact information of a colleague or supervisor who can help]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon my return.

Best regards,

[Your Name/Position]

You can customize the subject and body of the message based on your specific circumstances, but the key elements to include are the reason for your absence, the duration of your absence, and instructions on how to get help or when to expect a response.

How do I put an automatic reply on my email?

To put an automatic reply on your email, you need to set up an “out of office” or “vacation” auto-reply message in your email client. Here are the steps for setting up an automatic reply in some common email clients:

Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail)

  • Go to Outlook and sign in to your account

  • Click on the “Settings” gear icon in the top right corner and select “View all Outlook settings”

  • Select “Mail” and then “Automatic replies”

  • Choose whether you want to send automatic replies to people inside your organisation or to everyone outside your organisation

  • Enter the subject and message for your automatic reply

  • Set the start and end dates for your automatic reply

  • Click on the “Save” button.


  • Go to Gmail and sign in to your account.

  • Click on the gear icon in the top right corner and select “Settings”.

  • Scroll down to the “Vacation responder” section and select “Vacation responder on”.

  • Enter the subject and message for your automatic reply.

  • Set the start and end dates for your automatic reply.

  • Choose whether you want to send the automatic reply to everyone or only to people in your contacts list.

  • Click on the “Save Changes” button.

Microsoft Outlook

  • Open Microsoft Outlook on your computer.

  • Click on the “File” tab in the top left corner and select “Automatic Replies (Out of Office)”

  • Choose whether you want to send automatic replies inside or outside your organisation

  • Enter the subject and message for your automatic reply

  • Set the start and end dates for your automatic reply

  • Click on the “OK” button

These are just some examples of how to set up automatic replies for different email clients.

The exact steps may vary depending on the email client you are using.

Be sure to test your automatic reply before you activate it to ensure it works correctly.

Where can I find some out-of-office email templates?

Many websites offer out-of-office email templates that you can use as a starting point for creating your own message.

Here are a few options:


HubSpot provides a generator for funny or entertaining out-of-office messages.

Hilarious out of office email auto replies


Canva provides a variety of out-of-office email templates that you can edit and customise using their design tools.


Mailbirds blog provides 7 examples of templates that you could play around with.

Remember, when using a template, make sure to tailor the message to your specific situation and audience, and remember to include important details such as your return date and who to contact in your absence.

What is the difference between out-of-office and auto-reply?

“Out of office” and “auto-reply” are two types of automatic email responses, but they differ slightly.

“Out of office” messages are specifically used to inform others that you are out of the office, such as on vacation or for a business trip, and will not be available to respond to emails.

These messages typically include information such as your return date, an alternative contact person or information, and a brief explanation of the reason for your absence.

“Out-of-office” messages are often set up using email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, etc.

On the other hand, “auto-reply” messages are more general. They can be used for various purposes, such as confirming an email receipt or providing information about a specific product or service.

These messages are often sent immediately or soon after an email is received, and they may or may not include specific details about your availability or absence.

In summary, “out of office” messages are used specifically to inform others that you are away and unavailable, while “auto-reply” messages can be used for various purposes beyond simply indicating your availability or absence.

How do I make Outlook always reply to certain emails?

You can set up a rule in Outlook to always reply to certain emails by following these steps:

Step 1

Open Outlook and go to the “Home” tab.

Step 2

Click on “Rules” in the “Move” group and select “Create Rule”.

Step 3

In the “Create Rule” dialog box, select the option “Advanced Options”.

Step 4

In the “Rules Wizard” dialog box, under “Step 1: Select a template”, select the option “Check messages when they arrive”.

  • Under “Step 1: Select conditions”, check the box next to “From people or public group”.

  • Under “Step 2: Edit the rule description”, click on the underlined text for “people or public group” and add the email address or addresses of the people you want to always reply to.

  • Under “Step 1: Select actions”, check the box next to “Reply using a specific template”.

  • Under “Step 2: Edit the rule description”, click on the underlined text for “a specific template” and select the email template you want to use for the reply.

  • Click “Finish” to save the rule.

Now, whenever an email arrives from the specified email address or addresses, Outlook will automatically reply to it using the template you selected.

Be sure to test the rule to ensure it is working as expected.

Other articles you may find useful

How to reply to a specific message on Teams

How to create an email template in Outlook

How to share Outlook email templates

Microsoft Outlook: Snoozing emails

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