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If you have Outlook 2010 and a Microsoft Exchange Server email account, you can use the Out of Office Assistant to send replies to incoming messages when you are away from your office for an extended period. If you do not have an Exchange account, you can emulate the Out of Office Assistant using rules. Read on to learn more about setting your Out of Office in Outlook 2010.
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Setting Your Out of Office in Outlook 2010
Go to the File tab. Select Info in the left pane of the window. Look for Automatic Replies (Out of Office). If you do not see this option, you are not connected to an Exchange Server.
If you do see this option, click to start the Out of Office Assistant. Select I am currently Out of the Office. Type a message into the Auto Reply box. This is the message that will be sent to anyone who sends you an email message while you are away. It is helpful to provide details, such as when you will return and whom they should contact in your absence.
Click the Add Rule button if you would like to use Outlook rules to forward or organize your incoming email messages while you are away. Otherwise, click OK and finish setting your Out of Office in Outlook 2010. Be sure to go back and change your setting to I am currently IN the Office when you return.
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Setting Your Out of Office in Outlook 2010 Without an Exchange Account
If you have an Outlook 2010 email account that is not on Exchange Server, you can emulate the Out of Office Assistant using rules. The key is that your computer must remain on and your Outlook account open while you are away or this method will not work.
To emulate setting your Out of Office in Outlook 2010 using rules, open a new email message. Go to the Format Text tab and select Plain Text. Type an away message into the body of the email. It is helpful to provide details, such as when you will return and whom they should contact in your absence.
Go to the File tab of the message and click Save As. Select Outlook Template in the Save as Type list, enter a name for the file and click Save. Close the message.
Go to the Home tab of the ribbon. Click Rules in the Move group and select Manage Rules and Alerts. Make sure you are on the Email Rules tab and click New Rule. Select Apply Rule on Messages I Receive and click Next. Select the Sent Only To Me check box or the Where My Name is in the To Field check box and click Next.
Select the Reply Using a Specific Template check box. Click the A Specific Template hyperlink in the Edit the Rule Description section. Select User Templates in the Look In box and click on the Out of Office Message template you created and saved. Click Open.
Click Next. Select any additional exceptions you wish to add and set them up accordingly. Click Next. Enter a name for the rule and select Turn on This Rule. Click Finish and close the Rules and Alerts dialog box. Be sure to delete or turn off the rule when you return.
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Cannot Reply to Message Error
Users of Outlook 2010 may experience an error message stating "Cannot Reply to Message" the first time Outlook runs the Out of Office Message rule. If this happens to you, close the error. This will disable the rule. Next, close Outlook and restart it.
Make sure you have at least one email message in your Inbox (send one to yourself, if necessary). Go to the Home tab, click Rules in the Move group and select Manage Rules and Alerts. Double-click the Out of Office Message rule. Click Next on the Rules Wizard until you get to the Finish Rule Setup screen.
Select Run This Rule Now on Messages already in Inbox and Turn On This Rule. Click Finish. Click Apply and click OK. You should now be able to send the message without an error.