Microsoft may have closed down Internet Explorer, but emails still fly in and out of Outlook.

Whether you use Outlook to manage your personal or business emails, you’re probably going to want to shirk the constant reading and replying at some point this summer.

If you’ve managed to book a holiday abroad, do you really want to be on a sun lounger in Spain, tapping away replies to the office?

Even if you’re staying home and taking a few days of annual leave, wouldn’t it be best if those days were used to relax, recharge and catch up on other life admin – rather than writing email essays?

Enter: the out of office automatic reply. Set one, and literally everyone who tries to tie you up in email correspondence will quickly be warned that your response will be delayed. And you’ll be (temporarily) free.

Here’s how to set up your Outlook out of office.

How to set your out of office in Outlook

On most versions of Outlook, you’ll want to click File > Automatic Reply, and follow the set up instructions.

If you don’t see that option, then your email account may not support automatic replies – and you might need to create a rule instead.

However, it’s quite easy to do if you can log in to your email through Microsoft 365 Outlook web browser. Simply tap the gear/wheel icon on your screen – this is ‘Settings’.

Once you’re there, click on it, ignore everything that pops up in the column, and click on ‘View All Outlook Settings’.

A new box should pop up on your screen, giving you lots of option to explore and tweak. Ignore them all, except for Mail > Automatic Replies, where you’ll be asked a few things.

Press the toggle to say you want ‘Automatic Replies On’ indefinitely, or if you want to set specific dates, there’s a space for you to input them in date fields below.

You’ll be able to write an out of office automatic reply for people who work in the same company as you, as well as alternative version for anyone outside your organisation who gets in touch.

Make sure you tick the ‘Send Replies Outside Your Organisation’ box for those emails to be delivered.

If you head to Mail > Forwarding, you can also arrange either temporarily or permanently to have your emails forwarded to a different account, depending on the amount of time you’ll be away.

Of course, the process will also slightly different on the Outlook app on your smartphone.

If you’re using Microsoft Outlook on either Android or iPhone, hit Settings > Automatic Replies.

You will see a toggle switch that says ‘On’, Microsoft confirms, then be able to pick from a range of options for setting up the response message you need to leave, including the length of time it’ll last.

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