It’s coming up on the time of year when many of us get to close our laptops and open the quality street tin, but it can be hard to feel merry and bright if you’re worried about important clients or team members expecting a response from you. Setting up an out of office is easy, and gives you that extra piece of mind that anyone trying to reach you will know when they can expect to hear back, and you won’t return in the New Year to a barrage of unanswered follow-ups.

In outlook, setting this up is simple whether you’re on Windows or a Mac – so here’s our easy guide to help you step into Christmas in peace.

Setting up an automatic reply in Outlook for Windows:

Step 1: Open your Outlook app (we strongly recommend 365, but more on that here).

Step 2: Select “File” from your top navigation.

Step 3: This will open up a page with several options, select “Automatic Replies”

Step 4: This will bring up a dialogue box where you can personalise your out of office replies. Firstly, you’ll need to select the checkbox that says, “Send automatic replies”, and then you can enter the time range you want these replies to send for.

Step 5: Type the automatic reply you want to be sent, note that there are two separate tabs for recipients inside your organisation, and for those outside – you will need to fill each out, and can enter a separate message for each. For example, there may be an interim contact that those outside your organisation can contact whilst you’re away, and you can put that information in the message box for those outside your organisation.

If you want to: Outlook for Windows provides the option to add specific rules to your out of office, allowing you to send more personalised messages if need be. Simply select the “Rules” button in the lower left corner, and this will bring up a dialog box where you can see any existing rules, or click the button to “Add Rule”.

When adding a new rule, you can personalise automatic replies by who they’re sent from, as well as whether you were only cc-ed into an email or if it was sent directly to you. You can give these emails specific subjects and messages, typed in the respective boxed in the “Add New Rule” Dialoge box. You can also select where emails get automatically stored, to keep your folders tidy for when you get back.

Setting up an automatic reply in Outlook for Mac:

Step 1: Open the Outlook app on your Mac.

Step 2: In your top navigation, select “Tools”.

Step 3: This will open a new menu along the top, select “Out of office”.

Step 4: Once the Out of office dialogue box has appeared, the first thing to do is click the checkbox that will enable “Send automatic replies for account ‘Outlook’.”

Step 5: You can now personalise your out of office reply. You have an option to create different automatic replies for within your organization and outside your organization, so you can write in separate messages in these editable text boxes if you wish. Even if you are writing the same message for each, you will still need to fill in both boxes.

Step 6: Select the Start time and End time and select “Ok” at the bottom of the dialogue box.

Once you’ve got your automatic replies up and running, you’re good to go – they will stop sending automatically at the end of your chosen time period, so you can come back in the New Year and jump right back into the fold.

Merry Christmas from all at Think Connect!