How to create autoreply Out-of-office for non-Exchange account

Outlook 2016
The "Automatic Replies (Out of Office)" or "Out of Office Assistant" feature is not available on non-Exchange accounts, such as (formerly Hotmail), POP3, IMAP. However, you can combine an Outlook email template with Outlook rules to simulate the functionality of the "Automatic Replies (Out of Office)" feature. Don't forget to leave your Outlook running!

To create a template for auto reply, see how to create a template for outlook messages. For example, you can create the message like below:

Out of Office message in Outlook 2016

To create a rule for Out-of-Office autoreply in MS Outlook, do the following:

   1.   On the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules, and then click Manage Rules & Alerts:

Rules in Outlook 2016

   2.   In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, click New Rule...:

New Rule in Outlook 2016

   3.   Outlook launches the Rules Wizard. Click the Apply rules on messages I receive option, and then click Next >:

Rules Wizard Step 1 in Outlook 2016

   4.   Select the received in a specific date span check box and any other criteria that you want:

Rules Wizard Step 2 in Outlook 2016

   5.   In the Step 2 area, choose the condition received in a specific date span and click in a specific date span:

Date Received in Outlook 2016

In the Date Received dialog box, choose the appropriate dates and then click OK and then click Next >.

   6.   Select the action to take when the conditions are met by checking the appropriate check box. For an autoreply, check reply using a specific template:

Rules Wizard Step 3 in Outlook 2016

   7.   In the Step 2 area, click a specific template link to select the template (message) to use:

  • In the Look In list, select User Templates in File System and then click the Browser… button.
  • In the Browser For Folder dialog box, choose the folder where is placed your template file:
Select a Reply Template in Outlook 2016

   8.   Select the template and click Open:

Select a Reply Template name in Outlook 2016

   9.   The rule conditions and actions are listed, click Next >.

   10.   In the wizard screen that appears, you can click any of the various check boxes to specify any exceptions. Click Next >.

   11.   Outlook displays the completed mail rule. In the Step 1: Specify a name for this rule field, type a name for the auto-reply rule, and then click Finish:

Rules Wizard finish Step in Outlook 2016

Note: To run any rule in your MS Outlook application, it should work. If you turn off your Outlook, any rule can't be run.

Note: The reply using a specific template rule in the Rules Wizard sends your automated reply only once to each sender during a single session. A session is each time you start Outlook until you exit the application. This rule prevents Outlook from sending repetitive replies to a single sender from whom you receive multiple messages. During a session, Outlook keeps track of the list of users to whom it has responded. If you exit and then restart Outlook, however, this is considered a new session and the list of the senders who have received automated replies is reset.

See also this tip in French: Comment créer une réponse automatique d'absence du bureau pour un compte non-Exchange.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.