How to Set Up an Email Out of Office Responder Before You Go on a Trip

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How to Set Up an Email Out of Office Responder Before You Go on a Trip

Wouldn’t it be nice to go on vacation without having to check your email? If you can’t leave your digital communication to an assistant, a ‘out of office’ message is the next best thing.

Here are some pointers on how to set up an autoresponder with Gmail and what to consider.

Reduce the Load Before You Leave

Before you depart, be sure to empty your inbox and answer to any open requests. Inform them that you will be absent. For example, a week or two before your vacation, you may put the dates of your intended away time to your email signature. As a result, your contacts are less likely to overwhelm your inbox while you’re away.

If you don’t already have an email management system, now is the time to learn about the Inbox Zero Flowchart. To summarize, eliminate irrelevant emails, assign jobs you cannot do alone, solve tasks promptly if they take less than two minutes, and put them on your To Do list if they take longer.

If you’ll be gone for a lengthy period of time, you should also unsubscribe from email newsletters.

Prepare Your Email Autoresponder

People will attempt to contact you regardless of how effectively you convey your planned trip. They will be reminded of your absence via an autoresponder. Use the following strategy:

  • Add emergency contact information to your auto responder. This might be a trustworthy colleague’s email address or a phone number where you can be contacted in an emergency.
  • Set the autoresponder to only send to persons on your contact list. This stops random strangers from obtaining your emergency number or other contact information.
  • Set up email forwarding for essential messages. If you anticipate to hear from a certain person or about a specific issue, make sure those crucial emails are forwarded to a colleague who can answer promptly.
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Set Up the Gmail Vacation Responder

Gmail’s Vacation Responder may be found under the general settings. Scroll to the bottom of the General tab after clicking the cogwheel in the upper right corner of your inbox. Select the dates, write your message in WYSIWYG (formatted /rich text) or Plain Text, and enable the vacation responder. Select only send a response to persons in your Contacts to prevent outsiders or spammers from obtaining further contact information or learning that your email account is active. You can select a first and optional end day in Gmail, which means you won’t have to remember to switch off the autoresponder when you return.

Forward Selected Emails Using Gmail Filters

The vacation response is a typical message that is delivered to anybody (on your contact list) who sends you an email when it is active. As previously said, certain communications may need an urgent and personal response. Gmail’s filters come in handy here.

It is important to note that with Gmail, you may only forward emails to validated email accounts. You’ll need the assistance of a coworker if you wish to forward emails to them. Click the cogwheel in the upper right corner of your Gmail inbox, then Settings, then Forwarding and POP/IMAP. To send the confirmation email, select the Add a forwarding address box, input the forwarding email address, and then click Next. Your coworker will be sent a code as well as information on how to confirm the request. If they forward the email to you, you may input the confirmation code to validate their email address.

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Expand the search options above your Gmail inbox to create your filter. Enter the sender’s email address in the from box, as well as keywords in the subject or has field. You may link several keywords by adding numerous email addresses and using search operators.

In the bottom right, click Create filter using this search, and then choose your action. In the example below, I chose a forwarding email address and labeled the forwarded email. If you do the same, when you return from your vacation, you will be able to immediately identify forwarded emails based on their label.

You may create a bespoke scripted response for certain senders or themes instead of forwarding emails. Yaara has already described how this works.

Final Preparations Before You Leave

It would be quite sad if your meticulously configured system failed. Consider the burden of your return. It is critical that you test your out-of-office messages and forwarding before departing. To test autoresponders, filters, and forwards, use your own secondary email account and fake filters.

It would also be awkward if your vacation responder remained active after you had returned home. Create a task or plan in your To Do list or calendar to turn off the autoresponder and/or filters when you return.

Here’s a quick rundown of the full method from Steve Dotto:

What to Do When You Return

Hopefully, your method worked and all important emails were handled by your helpful coworker. When you’re ready to handle your email, do the following steps:

  • Deactivate the vacation responder.
  • Turn off vacation-specific filters and forwarding.
  • Using the Email Zero technique discussed above, go through your inbox.
  • Examine your Sent folder or a label to see whether emails were forwarded or got a scripted answer.
  • Contact colleagues who handled important emails and request that they bring you up to speed.
  • Follow up where necessary.
  • If necessary, resubscribe to newsletters.
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Can This Be Done in Other Email Clients?

Certainly. In Thunderbird, which we previously discussed, you may configure auto-response filters. Outlook also lets you create out-of-office notifications.

Do you use another email client, or do you have any more ideas for dealing with email autoresponders? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments!

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