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Using Outlook To Send Autoresponders

You will need to leave your computer on, Outlook open, and hi-speed connection on while you are away.  If you use a dial-up modem to connect to the Internet, this will not work.

There's an option in Outlook to use Microsoft Word as your e-mail editor, however if this is turned on, then setting up auto-replies is impossible.  So you will need to turn off Word in Outlook as follows:  Open Outlook, click the "Tools" menu, and then choose "Options". Next click on the Mail Format tab and look for the box that says "Use Microsoft Word to edit e-mail messages". Uncheck the box. Then click OK.

Now let's create the message that will be sent to people while you are away. Create a mail message as you would normally by click "New" on your tool bar or from the File menu choose "New", then "Mail Message". A new mail message window will appear. Leave the "To" and "CC" fields blank. In the "Subject" field you can put anything you'd like (i.e.: I'm out of the office").

Next in the body of the e-mail, type a message like: "Hi. I've just received your e-mail in my inbox. Please note that I am away from Tuesday through Thursday. I won't be checking e-mail while I am away, however you can sendcall me on my cell at 444-555-1212."  (You get the idea)  Once the autoreply e-mail is written, save it to your hard drive.

In the main Outlook window, choose the "Tools" menu and then the "Rules Wizard". Click the "New" button. A box will appear. Choose "Start from a blank rule" at the top, then below that in the white box, choose "Check messages when they arrive" item is selected. Click "Next".

In the next screen you need to select the e-mails that the autoresponder will reply to. There are lots of choices (be sure to use the vertical slider on the right to explore all the options). If you want all messages that arrive to get the autoreply, just click "Next". A message warning will pop up if you do this to make sure you want to send it to all the people who e-mail you.

In next dialog box you'll choose what to do when an e-mail arrives. Scroll down using the slider at the right of the dialog box and find the item that says "Reply using a specific template".

You'll notice that the each part of the rule you are creating appears in the "Rule description" box.

When "Reply using a specific template" appears in the rule description, note that "specific template" is underlined. That means it's clickable, and therefore customizable. So click it. A dialog box with the title "Select a Reply Template".

This is where you link to the autoresponder e-mail that you created earlier and saved to your hard drive. In the "Look In" pulldown menu at the top select the second item called "User templates in file system". When you do this you'll notice that the "Browse" button to the right that was previously greyed out is now active. So click it. A "Go to Folder" box will pop up. Now click the plus sign (+) next to "My Computer". A list of drives on your computer will appear. Click the plus (+) sign next to the "C:" drive. It'll look something like this "Local Disk (C:)". A list of folders on your "C:" drive will appear. Select the "autoreply" folder you created earlier and click OK.

The Outlook template we created earlier will be listed in the "email-files" folder. Select it and click open.

Now you'll be back to the "Rules Wizard" box. In the "Rules Description" you'll notice that it says on the bottom line "reply using C:\pathto\yourfile.oft".  Click "Next". You'll have the option to create any exceptions. Unless there's some e-mail that you don't want the autoresponder to go to simply click "Next" again. If you do check off the exceptions as appropriate.

On the next screen, name the rule in the top box. Call it "Away Autoresponder", if you like. Also make sure there's a check mark in the box that says: "Turn on this rule". This will activate the rule immediately. You can leave the box next to "Run this rule now on messages already in the Inbox" unchecked, unless you want all the messages you have already received to be sent your "out of the office" autoresponse.

Click "Finish". The autoresponder is now set up. It will be listed in the "Apply rules in the following order" box. To modify it select the rule so that it is highlighted and click "Modify" on the right. To remove it click "Delete". If the box next to the rule is checked it is active, so don't turn it on unless you are ready to leave.  To get to the rule later, start up Outlook, choose the "Tools" menu and select "Rules Wizard".

While you are away you will need to leave the computer on and Outlook running.

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