How to Set Out of Office in Outlook: A Complete Guide

How to set Out of Office in Outlook
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If you’re planning a holiday, going on a vacation, taking a leave of absence, or something similar that’s going to keep you away from work, it is important that you know how to set out-of-office replies in Outlook for your emails.

You can create an automatic out-of-office message for email replies using Microsoft Outlook. This message lets your contacts know that you’re not available to reply to their messages and when you’ll be available. 

This article will show you how to easily set up an automatic out-of-office reply in both the Microsoft Outlook desktop app, Mac, and the web version. 

Let’s get started!

What is an Out-of-Office Message?

An out-of-office email, also known as an “OOO message”, “away message,” or “vacation message,” is an automatic response sent to individuals who attempt to contact you while you are away or unavailable.

This message informs the recipient of your absence, outlining the return date and the method to contact someone else during your absence in cases of urgency.

Most email systems typically have built-in features for setting up out-of-office messages, while others require users to create rules or filters to automatically send messages when they are away.

The OOO message is not frequently sent, unless when necessary. Here‘s when to use the OOO reply.

Read Also: 6 Essential Features in Microsoft Project Management Software

When Do You Use an Out-of-Office Message?

Employees in customer service, marketing, and communications jobs are expected to provide prompt responses and solutions to their clients and subscribers. Out-of-office messages offer a polite, concise, and professional explanation for why an immediate response is not possible.

You can set an OOO message if you are going to be away for one day, one week, or several months. Aside from planning a trip or a special event, here are other reasons you might set up an out-of-office message:

  • Going on vacation.
  • Going to a conference, workshop, or professional meeting.
  • Taking maternity, sick leave, or a sabbatical
  • Taking a personal day.
  • Going to a doctor’s appointment

Just as we have earlier said, you can only use the OOO message when the need to use it arises. Now let’s take a look at the basic information you should include when composing the OOO message.

What to Include in Your Out-of-Office Email

When crafting your best out-of-office email, the following information is important:

  • A friendly, professional greeting: It is necessary that you include a greeting, as you would in any other email message.
  • State the exact dates you will be away: Inform others when you will be unavailable so they can make alternative plans. By doing so, they will adjust their expectations and prevent any frustration or confusion.
  • Include your expected return date: This will inform people of when to expect a response from you and help them plan when to reach out to you again.
  • Give the reason for your absence: Though not mandatory, it should be considered. People may still attempt to contact you during business trips or conferences. But if you are on vacation, they are less likely to attempt to contact you.
  • The individuals who can assist a client while you are away: Provide contact information such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses of people who can be of urgent assistance to colleagues and clients. This ensures that your clients and partners get the necessary support and information, even if you are unavailable.
  • Provide urgent instructions: It is important that you provide instructions on how to contact you in case of an emergency or a high-importance matter. 

Of what essence is the OOO message? Let’s see why you should set the OOO message whenever you’re leaving the office for a day, a week, or even a month. 

Why Set Up an Out-of-Office Email?

Setting up an out-of-office reply is considered proper etiquette when you are unable to check emails during regular work hours. An OOO message is suitable for vacations, offsite meetings, or industry events, whether for a week or a day.

Even when you’ve already stated you’ll be out of the office, people tend to forget you’re unavailable. An automated response serves as a notification to anyone trying to contact you that you are currently away.

It can also be beneficial to you by allowing you to concentrate more effectively on the task that has taken you away from the workplace.

A well-written out-of-office email can accomplish the following:

  • Provide alternate contact information for coworkers or clients to address time-sensitive questions or concerns.
  • It indicates that you are not ignoring your clients and other people’s messages.
  • It sets precise expectations for when you will be able to respond.

Also, setting up an out-of-office message on your personal email account is beneficial during a job search, as it allows you to expect responses from potential employers. Without an automated message, employers may assume that you are no longer interested in the opportunity.

Now, let’s get started with the main business of the day. Here’s how you can set up the OOO message on your desktop, Mac, or on the Web. This is very easy and fast to achieve.

How to Set Out of Office Reply in Outlook on Windows

The Outlook desktop app on Windows allows users to quickly create and schedule out-of-office replies. To achieve this, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Open Outlook on Windows and select the File tab.

Step 2: Confirm that Info is selected on the top-left. Then, click Automatic Replies on the right.

Step 3: At the top of the pop-up window, tick the option for “send automatic replies” and then type your message in the text box at the bottom.

Step 4: To schedule the reply, check the box for “Only send during this time frame” and choose the start and end dates and times.

If you didn’t select a timeframe, go back to step 4 to turn off the automatic reply manually.

Step 5: Click OK when you’re done.

Set an Out-of-Office Reply in Outlook on Mac

The new Outlook on Mac allows users to schedule and set up out-of-office replies using specific steps.

Step 1: Open Outlook on Mac and select Tools. Click on Automatic Replies from the menu bar.

Step 2: When the Automatic Replies window appears, check the box at the top to enable automatic replies, and type in your auto-reply message into the box directly below.

Step 3: To schedule the reply, check the box for Send replies only during this time period. Then, pick the start and end dates and times.

If you didn’t use the schedule feature, go back to step 3 to turn off the automatic reply manually.

Step 4: To send the out-of-office reply to those outside your organization, check that box next. You can choose to send only to my contacts or send to all external senders.

Then, type in the auto-reply message you’d like to send in that text box.

Set an Out-of-Office Reply in Outlook on the Web

If you use Outlook on the web, you can easily create and schedule automatic replies using these steps:

Step 1: Visit Outlook on the web and sign in.

Step 2: Click the Gear icon on the top-right and select View all Outlook settings at the bottom of the sidebar.

Step 3: In the pop-up window, choose Mail on the far left and Automatic Replies to the right.

Step 4: Turn on the toggle at the top and type in your out-of-office message.

Step 5: To schedule your automatic reply, check the box for Send replies during a time period. Then, pick the start and end dates and times. Optionally, check the boxes that appear for additional settings that apply to Outlook Calendar during the timeframe.

If you don’t schedule your out-of-office reply, you go back to step 5 to this location in the settings to turn it off manually.

Step 6: To send this automatic reply only to your Outlook contacts, check the box at the bottom.

Step 7: When you finish, click Save, then click X on the top-right to close these settings.

Now that you know how to set up an automatic reply in Outlook.

Samples of Out of Office Messages You Can Use.

Professional:

“Thank you for your email. Currently, I am unavailable and will not be able to respond to your emails until (date of return). If you are in need of immediate assistance, please contact (name and contact information for an alternative point of contact). Otherwise, I will respond to your message as soon as possible upon my return. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Best regards,

Lilian”

Senior Account Manager.

Vacation:

“Hi, you’ve reached Lilian! I’m currently out of the office, enjoying some much-needed time off. I will not be able to reply to emails until I return on (date of return). If you need immediate assistance, please contact (name and contact information for an alternative point of contact). Else, I will respond to your message as soon as possible upon my return. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Best regards

Lilian”

Simple:

“Thank you for contacting Lilian! I am currently out of the office and will not be able to reply to emails until (date of return). If you’re in need of urgent assistance, please contact (name and contact information for an alternative point of contact). I will get back to you as soon as possible upon my return.

Thanks for your understanding!

Lilian”

Sick leave: 

“Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office due to an unexpected illness and will not be able to respond to emails until I return on (insert date of return). During my absence, I will not have access to my work email or voicemail. If you need urgent assistance, please contact (name and contact information for an alternative point of contact). Otherwise, I will answer your message as soon as possible upon my return.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Lilian”

Family & Friends (Informal):

“Hello, Family and Friends! I am currently out of the office and spending quality time with my loved ones. If you need me, you can find me on the beach with a drink in my hand and toes in the sand (just kidding, I’m probably chasing after my kids). I’ll be back in the office and ready to answer your emails on (date of return). In the meantime, feel free to share photos of your pets, the latest baking creations, or any recent jokes with me. Thanks for your understanding and I will talk to you soon!

Lilian

Conclusion

Everyone desires to feel valued and appreciated. It is advised that you set an automatic out-of-office response when you are unable to access your inbox. The auto-message informs your contacts about the delay in your response and provides instructions on how to obtain necessary information or services during your absence.

You can follow the steps we have provided in this article to set up one and be sure to use the examples to make sure it is properly done. This strategy is an effective method to enhance customer loyalty and boost e-commerce sales without being overly aggressive. 

Finally, don’t forget to create a funny or thoughtful message to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Bonus Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the out-of-office email?

An out-of-office message is crucial for keeping people informed and addressing urgent matters, especially for long-lasting customer relationships that require prompt response.

What is a good out-of-office subject line?

  • Currently unavailable, sorry!
  • Thank you for understanding.
  • Thanks for your email.
  • Out of office from [date] to [date]
  • Thank you for your patience!
  • Can’t reply now, but here’s who you can reach today.

How do you write a work-away message?

Hello, Thank you for your email. I am currently unavailable, attending the (conference name + location), and will be back in the office on (mm/dd). I’ll be occasionally checking my emails while I’m away, but for urgent matters, please contact (name of coworker + position) at (coworker’s email and/or phone number).

How do I quickly set an automatic reply?

Follow these simple steps:

  • Select File, then select Automatic Replies.
  • Select Send automatic replies.
  • If you don’t want the messages to go out right away, select Only Send during this time range.
  • Now you can set the time frame. Simply choose the dates and times you’d like to set your automatic reply for.
  • Type in a message.
  • Select OK.

Why is it important to set out of office?

Out-of-office replies are a quick and effective way to address concerns and ensure prompt responses, even if it’s just to express a future response.

How do you professionally email someone who hasn’t responded?

It is recommended to maintain a simple and straightforward tone. For instance, “I’m following up to see if you might have some time to talk in the next week or two about your experience working at Company X, as I just applied for the system analyst position.”

What does out of office mean?

“OOO”  stands for “out of office.” It’s a term used in business settings to inform coworkers, clients, or employees that you are out of the office. It is suitable for messaging, such as via Slack Teams, or emailing.

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