Send An Out of Office Response In Outlook 2007 Without An Exchange Server

Many Outlook users in the corporate environment are familiar with the and use the Outlook function to alert customers or colleagues when they are not checking email because of vacation or illness etc. As convenient as it might be, however, the Outlook feature requires your email server be a Microsoft Exchange Server, which for a small or home businesses isn’t typically available/reasonable.

Obvious problems arise when going on vacation or not checking email for an extended period; your customers or business partners may get upset, thinking you’ve been ignoring them for days/weeks.  Fortunately, there is a solution for Outlook users who want to leverage the Out the Office Assistant despite the fact they don’t have a Microsoft Exchange email server.  The process leverages Outlook Rules and Alerts to mimic the Out of Office Assistant functionality, and although it may not be as graceful or easy to enable, it does get the job done.

A few things to note about sending an auto-reply in Outlook 2007 using Rules and Alerts:

  • IMPORTANT!:  Outlook must be running for this to work.  Also required is that that the setting for “check periodically for new messages” be turned on.
  • The “Reply using a specific template” rule used in this technique will send a reply to each sender only once, to prevent spam.  To reset the list of those already emailed, you will need to close and restart Outlook.

Ok, with that said, let’s get right into the How-To details.

How to create an automatic reply template in Outlook 2007

1.  Compose a New Message in Outlook.  Under the Options > Format tab Set it to Plain Text.  Then Type your own away message, this will be what people receive as an auto-reply while you are away.

How-To Create an Out of Office Template

 2.  After you finish your message, Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Save As.

How-To Create an Out of Office Template

3.  In the window that appears, type in your desired File Name.  Next Select Outlook Template (*.oft) as your Save as type.

How-To Create an Out of Office Template Save oft file

Great job! Stage one is now complete; let’s get started on stage 2.

Next, we need to define a rule to send an automatic reply in Outlook 2007.

4.  Under the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts.

Outlook 2007 Rules and Alerts

5.  In the Rules and Alerts window, click the New Rule button. In the Rules Wizard window that appears, Click Star from a blank rule > Check messages when they arrive.  Click Next > to continue.

Outlook 2007 - Create Outlook rule as email arrives

6.  In the next conditions window,  Select the checkbox for Sent Only To Me, then click Next. The next page is the actions list, select the checkbox for Reply using a specific template.  After you have finished checking the appropriate boxes, Click the blue link to a specific template.

7.  The Select A Reply Template window should pop up, under Look In:  select User Templates in File System.  The template we saved earlier should appear on the list, select your template, and then Click Open.

Outlook 2007 - Create Outlook rule select a template

8. Name your Rule, make sure the Turn on this rule box is checked. When done, click Finish.

Outlook 2007 - Create Outlook enter rule name

Voila!  From now on everyone that e-mails you will get an automatic reply containing the custom message you set up in stage one.

I’m back in the office! How do I disable automatic reply in Outlook?  <Very Important>

When you return to the office (or home), you need to remember to DISABLE or DELETE the Outlook Out of Office Rule, so people won’t continue to get your “I’m out of the Office” message.

9.   Click Tools, Rules and Alerts.

Outlook 2007 - Create Outlook rule and alerts

10.   Select the Out of Office Rule we created earlier, then either uncheck the Rule, or delete the Rule using the delete button. Click  OK to save changes and finish

Note: I recommend you just disable the rule by un-checking the checkbox rather than deleting the rule.  This way you can re-use it the next time your out of the office.

Outlook 2007 - Disable or Delete Outlook 2007 Rule

<phew>  All Done!

The Outlook 2007 Rules and Alerts allow you to do almost anything with your email as shown in this groovy How-To Tutorial.  What are some of the things you do or manage with your Outlook Rules?



  1. Theresa  

    This was extremely helpful!!! Thank You

    • nidhi  

      thanks i was too much confused but this article is really helpful.

  2. dave  

    Did not work. It just puts a message in the outbox with no recipient.

  3. dalian  

    It do not work… i tried 100 times, diffirent ways. Any one have idea ? I get a scren message.. “error cannot reply to message”

  4. Jo  

    This method did not work, I get an error msg “cannot reply to message”

  5. Taii  

    Easy for me

  6. Mag  

    Easy and perfect ! many thanks…..

  7. Linda  

    Worked perfectly! Thanks so much.

  8. dalian  

    it seems it works if you only use 1 e-mail accounts… any one have experiance if have many e-mail accounts..??

  9. outlook 2007 + out of office  

    Just want to say your article is informative. Another site that i found helpful in this regard is

  10. Vetor  

    Thanks for some other informative website. The place else may just I get that type of information written in such a perfect way? I have a venture that I’m simply now operating on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such info.

  11. hoklean  

    This is not helpful to me since I need to have this work during my PC OFF…sorry.

  12. Jordan Llewellyn  

    Worked great!!!

  13. MohammedKaram  

    Big Thanks ,Great Work .

  14. Carla Anderson  

    This was the perfect solution! Thank you!

    • Austin Krause  

      You bet Carla! We’re super happy to help!

  15. Peter  

    Great article.

    But I have read that it can be a fire hazard to leave your laptop or PC on unattended for several weeks while away from the office.

    Is there not another way to leave an out of office message?

  16. John  

    Works great every time.
    Pity have to leave PC on and outlook open but guess this is just an issue when not on an exchage sever.

    • Steve Krause  

      True…. Who is your email coming from Google? Might have another option if that’s the case John. Let me know.

      • John  

        My company emails come from external ISP.
        All the guys at head office simply put OOO on as all on local server network.
        I work from home remote to HO hence the need / use of your brilliant guide.
        Trust this is what you needed?

        • Steve Krause  

          Yup OK gotcha!

          Glad it worked out John! Welcome to gP!

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