How to Set up an Out of Office Auto-Reply in Gmail

How to Set up an Out of Office Vacation Responder in Gmail

Not doing email for now? On vacation from your inbox? Find out here how to set up an out of office auto-reply in Gmail and have it respond to incoming messages on your behalf (without going overboard).

First, a Poem Famously about a Boomerang

Joachim Ringelnatz has written a charming little poem about a poor boomerang whose one side was a bit too long. It flew alright, but… well, I shall attempt to translate the poem’s famous ending:

The audience—until it got the hang—
Spent hours waiting for the boomerang

Joachim Ringelnatz, Bumerang (my translation)

Now, in Gmail you can set up a sort of boomerang for emails that come in while you’re busy elsewhere—an “out of email” auto-reply:

How to Set up an Out of Office Auto-Reply in Gmail

On the Desktop

Time needed: 5 minutes.

To have Gmail reply to incoming emails automatically with a vacation response:

  1. Open Gmail in a desktop browser.

  2. Click the Settings gear icon near the top right corner.

  3. Select See all settings on the sheet that has appeared.

  4. Go to the General tab.

    Gmail shortcut: You can go to the General Gmail settings directly.

  5. Select Vacation responder on under Vacation responder:.

    Schedule the response: You can pick start and end dates for your out of office auto-reply in Gmail; see below.
    Default starting date: Gmail will enter the current day as the default First day:.

  6. Type the subject for the auto-reply under Subject:.

    Convention: It is a custom to mention “out of office” and (or or) “auto-response” in the subject to help recipients categorize fast.
    Empty subject: With Subject: empty, the Gmail out of office reply will appear like a regular reply, with “Re: ” preceding the original message’s subject.

  7. Now write the message you want to send as the out of office auto-response in the text field.

    Formatting: You can use the formatting toolbar to apply text formatting and add an image, for instance.
    Plain text: Click « Plain Text to send a text-only reply.

  8. Optional: Check Only send a response to people in my Contacts to have your out of office message only go to email addresses that appear in your Gmail Contacts.

    When to enable: Use this option if you do not expect emails from people other than your contacts; this also avoids email newsletters, for instance, receiving your out of office auto-reply.

  9. Click Save Changes.

    Setting up an out of office auto-reply in Gmail

Auto-replies with more control: How to Set Up a Gmail Autoresponder

In Gmail Using a Mobile Browser

To create an out of office auto-reply using Gmail in a mobile browser:

  1. Tap the Gmail hamburger menu for the folder list.
  2. Now tap the settings gear icon.
  3. Enable Vacation Responder.
  4. Set up your out of office auto-reply as using the desktop interface.
  5. Tap Apply.

In a Gmail App

To set up your vacation reply using the Gmail app for iPhone, iPad and Android:

  1. Tap the hamburger menu for your Gmail labels or folders.
  2. Select Settings from the menu that has appeared.
  3. Now tap the account for which you want to create the auto-reply.
  4. Select Out of Office AutoReply.
  5. Create the vacation responder as using the desktop interface.
  6. Tap Save.

How to Stop an Out of Office Reply in Gmail

To end a vacation response going in Gmail immediately:

  • In Gmail on the desktop, follow the End now link next to Vacation settings.
  • In Gmail in a mobile browser or the Gmail app: Go to the Vacation Responder or Out of Office AutoReply settings and disable the auto-reply.

How to Set up an “Out of Office” Vacation Responder in Gmail: FAQ

Can I have the Out of Office Responder Start and Stop Automatically?

Yes.

When on the day will the auto-responder start and stop?

Gmail will engage the auto-reply at 12:00 a.m. (midnight) and end it at 11:59 p.m. at the given day in your timezone.

How often will Gmail send the auto-reply?

Every email address will receive the vacation response

  • once every four days at most,
  • however many messages it receives from the address.

So, if somebody emails you constantly for three days, they will get 1 automatic reply, if they email you for two weeks, they will receive 3.

Can the automatic responses be filtered easily?

Possibly.

All vacation replies sent from Gmail do contain the following header lines:

X-Autoreply: yes
Auto-Submitted: auto-replied

Email programs and services can use these to filter or mark these messages.

(How to set up an out of office auto-reply in Gmail tested with Gmail in desktop and mobile browsers as well as Gmail for iOS 6.0; updated February 2022)

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