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Customize the out of office assistant

Ways to make users' lives easier.

When a user is away from the office -- on a business trip, for example -- he may set up an "out of office reply" for all incoming messages, telling the sender that the recipient is out of office. You can set certain conditions using the out of office assistant to specify a list of recipients to whom the "Out Of office reply" should go to. For example, if you belong to a mailing list, you may want to continue receiving messages from the list. To specify such conditions, perform the following:

  1. On the Outlook Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.
  2. Click the Add Rule button.

You'll get a dialog box that starts with "When a message arrives that meets the following conditions." That's where your users should specify the conditions of the rule that the message must meet for some action to occur. For example, if a user specifies "John Doe; Pete Doe" in the From box, the rule will apply to all messages sent from John and Pete.

So whenever John or Pete sends the user a message, he'll get an "Out Of Office Reply" message.

But you don't have to stop there. You can create a custom rule that specifies further conditions. For instance, you can use semicolons in the Subject field to specify multiple conditions, so that if you know that the user will be receiving mails with fixed subjects such as "Monthly Report; Statements" type this line in the subject field, along with other such subjects, just as you typed user names into the from field, separated by semicolons. The Exchange Server will consider these to be ORd, and will execute the rule if any of the specified words or phrases appears in the subject.

Notice that if you have multiple conditions, such as a message from John with subject Report, BOTH conditions have to be met before the rule will be executed.

If that doesn't do it for your users, they can click the advanced tab to get even more options, such as size of the message, whether or not it has attachments, and more.


Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association Of Internet Professionals, the Institute For Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.


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