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Outlook - Automatic Reply Template

Have you ever wished or wondered if there was a way to respond to email given certain parameters with an automatic reply, often referred to as an auto reply or autoresponder, using Outlook? Here we show you how to create one, using an Outlook template combined with a Rule to make it go.  Rules are described in a previous blog: http://bit.ly/1GZpfY2  You may want to review this blog before you start creating the Rule described later in this blog.

Presume that whenever I receive an email notifying me of a certain event, containing certain keywords, or perhaps from a certain person or url (clickety-quick.com, for example), I want a rule to reply using my autoresponder which in Outlook parlance is an Outlook template.

First you'll create an email exactly like you always do. We're using Outlook 2013 for these steps but they'll work equally well with earlier versions of Outlook.  Bulleted items are the actions you must perform.

Create the Automatic Reply Message

  • Click New or press CTRL+ N, to start a new email message

Template AutoResponder Step 1

Now you'll type the reply that you want to send out automatically.  I won't bore you with my contents, but the next step is essential.

  • Click File, Save As, then change the Save as type:  to Outlook Template

OutlookAutoResponderStep02

Once you change the file type to Outlook Template, the folder in which it is stored will change to the templates folder for Outlook and the subject line of your message is the default file name, which in my case is way too long, so I'll change that too.  The templates folder seems to change with each version of Outlook, so you may want to note the path to yours for future reference (or google it when the need arises).

  • Click Save
  • Click the X, or click File, Close to close the email.

You may be asked if you'd like to save the email as a draft, we'll leave that up to you.  I'm not going to save a draft, but there are steps to reopen the template to take another look to reassure yourself it's really there.

  • Click New Items, More items, Choose form... 

OutlookAutoResponderStep03

 The Choose Form dialog appears.

  • Change the Look in: to User Templates in File System

OutlookAutoResponderStep04

Now, you should see your template which uses the extension .oft which means Outlook File Template.

OutlookAutoResponderStep05

  • Select your template and click Open to take another look, then close it again.

Next, we need to create the Rule which, as stated earlier, is already described in a previous blog:  http://bit.ly/1GZpfY2  However, I will take you to the point where you identify the outlook template to be used with the pertinent (but not all) screenshots.  

Create the Rule

  • Click Rules, located on the Home ribbon in the Move group
  • Choose Manage Rules and Alerts
  • Select New Rule
  • Select Apply rule on messages I receive

OutlookAutoResponderRuleStep06

  • Click Next
  • Select the basis upon which you will send this automatic reply; from people, specific words, etc.

OutlookAutoResponderRuleStep07

I bypassed the condition(s) step here to save time, but be aware that if you don't define these parameters you will be warned that this rule will apply to all messages.

  • Click Next
  • Click the checkbox beside reply using a specific template
  • Click a specific template located in the Step 2: area

OutlookAutoResponderRuleStep08a

The Select a Reply Template dialog opens.

OutlookAutoResponderRuleStep09

  • Select User Templates in File System from the Look in: dropdown
  • Select the template to be used with this rule and click open
  • Complete the rest of the Rules Wizard to define exceptions, name the rule, run the rule, etc.

Those are the steps to creating an automatic reply also add additional features like copying the incoming message to a folder, or forwarding it on to the person responsible for following up.  Please let us know if you found this helpful, or contact us if you need more help at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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