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How do I set up Outlook Express vacation reply?

How do I set up Outlook Express vacation reply?

Can you tell me how to set up Outlook Express vacation reply? I would like people to receive a “Do not send email” while I am away.
Margaret Warren

You can have Outlook Express send a vacation reply by using the message rules feature. Though it’s quite simple to create a message rule in Outlook Express, it works only when the email client is running. Thus, if your computer is switched off while you are away on vacation, no replies will be sent. But don’t be disheartened – at the end of this post, I provide a couple of options, one of which may just work for you – let us first tackle the issue at hand.

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Vacation reply in Outlook Express using message rules

Below are the step by step instructions on creating a message rule that will enable Outlook Express to send a vacation reply. The actual reply itself is created as a text file using Notepad.

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  1. Open the Notepad program; “Start” -> “All Programs” -> “Accessories” -> “Notepad“. Type in the vacation reply and save the file as vacation.txt on your Desktop or another safe location. FYI, you can give any file name; I’ve used this to highlight our goal.
  2. Now open Outlook Express and select “Message Rules” -> “Mail” from “Tools” in the top menu bar – [Slide 1].
  3. If there are no Outlook Express message rules, a pop-up similar to slide #2 will be displayed and you’re all set. Else, you’ll get so see something similar to slide #3. Click the “New” button which brings up the window you see in slide #2.
  4. The “New Mail Rule” pop-up has four sections -“Conditions“, “Actions“, “Rule Description” and “Name” – [Slide 4].
  5. Scroll down and select the last option – “For all messages” – as the Condition of the message rule – [Slide 5].
  6. Put a check mark in front of “Reply with message” in the Actions section – [Slide 6].
  7. In the Rule description textbox, you’ll see the word “message” – it is underlined and in blue color which means it’s a link. Click on it – [Slide 7].
  8. Outlook Express is asking for the file that contains the vacation reply. This is what you had created using Notepad – vacation.txt.
  9. Browse to the Desktop or the folder in which you had saved this file. Select “Text (*txt)” from the “File of type” drop down. You should see the auto reply message text file. Double click on it or select and click “Open” – [Slides 8, 9 and 10].
  10. The full path of the file is shown in the “Rule Description” section replacing the word ‘message’- [Slide 11].
  11. Give a name to this message rule – “Vacation” will do. Click the “OK” button – [Slide 12].
  12. The vacation auto reply message rule in Outlook Express is now made – [Slide 13]. Close this pop-up.

Issues when sending auto vacation reply with Outlook Express… and solutions

As mentioned above, the Outlook Express vacation reply will only work when the program is running. Here are a couple of solutions to this problem.

Start Outlook Express on the computer when you are about to leave. This way, the program will continue to receive messages at designated intervals and keep sending the vacation reply to every incoming email.
Tips: If yours is a laptop computer, change the power saving settings so that the machine does not enter ‘sleep’ mode. Turn off the screen / monitor to save electricity.

The second option is to use the auto reply feature of the email service. You’ll have to hunt for this under the ‘settings’ or ‘options’ section in the webmail interface. Thus, whenever a new message arrives at your inbox (on the email server), the vacation reply will be sent automatically and since your computer is not directly involved, it can be shutdown while you are away. Refer Hotmail auto reply if you use that email service.

FYI, the vacation auto-responder feature can be set up using the webmail interface of many ISP email accounts; a case in point is the Windstream email account.

Now that you know how to send out automated vacation replies – either from Outlook Express or the email service – which do you think is better? If I were you, I would have gone with the latter option. FYI, you may also be interested in Outlook Express auto reply to incoming email.

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