Note: Before following any of the instructions below, think carefully about their consequences.
A client asked me this question today:
In Outlook, is there a way to change the subject line when using the out
of office assistant? For instance, we have a former employee’s email
account that says she is no longer with our company but the subject line of
the emails says out of office.
The answer is yes. When you run the Out of Office Assistant (OoOA), you get this screen:
Most folks put in some text in the upper box, click OK, and are done with it. But if you are using the OoOA for some special purpose, such as announcing the permanent departure of an employee, you might want a more sophisticated response. Or you might want to let some people know you’re out of the office but not everyone. In that case, you need to create one or more rules by clicking the Add Rule button. When you click the button, you’ll get lots of choices:
In this case, we want to check the “Reply with” button and then click the Template button to create a customized reply message. Enter the desired subject line and text, but leave the To field blank:
When you’re done composing, close the window and you’ll be prompted to save your message. Click Save and/or OK enough times and you’ll be back at the OoOA screen, with your new rule in place, and you can enable the rule when ready:
Note that for your auto-replies to actually get delivered to anyone via the Internet, your Exchange administrator has to allow it. In many cases this behavior is turned off to prevent an endless loop of messages getting bounced back and forth between auto-responding servers. The settings to enable/disable out-of-office and other automated replies are set in the properties of the Exchange Global Settings / Internet Message Formats / Default:
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you need to think very carefully about how you want your auto-responses to work. Having an out-of-office message sent to a mass mailing list is usually a big no-no. If you are thinking about using the OoOA for a departed employee, make sure that you have unsubscribed him or her from all mailing lists first.