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Microsoft Outlook for Lawyers: AutoReplying to Emails

by / Monday, 16 December 2013 / Published in Latest, Microsoft Outlook Training for Lawyers

AutoReply to Email

The AutoReply feature of Outlook can be indispensable for attorneys who must make many court appearances and travel to perform their jobs. Whenever you must leave the office for a day, it is a good habit to set an AutoReply to email- informing people that you are out of the office and when you can be expected to return.

As long as you have an Exchange Server email account, then you can enable an “Out of office” AutoReply in Outlook 2007 by selecting “Tools| Out of Office Assistant…” from the Menu Bar. Then enter the text that you would like to use as your out of office message. You can then enable the feature by selecting the option button that says “I am currently Out of the Office.” Then click the “OK” button to finish. At that point, all people who send you an email will receive a message informing them that you are out of the office. When you return to the office, open the Out of Office Assistance again, and this time select the “I am currently In the Office” option button to disable the feature.

Note that this feature changes in Outlook 2013:2010, and is available by clicking the “File” tab in the Ribbon, and then the “Info” button in the backstage view. Then select the “Automatic Replies (Out of Office)” button. In the “Automatic Replies” dialog box that opens, check the “Send Automatic Replies” checkbox. You can then specify a duration for the automatic replies, if needed. Next, type the message that you want to have appear for users on both the “Inside my organization” and “Outside my organization” tabs. Then click the “OK” button to enable the automatic replies. If you specified a duration, Outlook will stop sending auto replies when the duration expires. Otherwise, simply return to the “Automatic Replies” dialog box and select the “Do not send automatic replies” checkbox and then click the “OK” button.

Note that if you do not have an Exchange Server account configured in your Outlook profile, you can still emulate this feature by using an email template that you create in conjunction with the mailbox rules. To do this, first create a plain text email message and type whatever you want your out of office reply to be as the body of the email message. Then select the “Save As” command within the message window. You can then name the message whatever you want, but be sure to save the file as the file type of “Outlook Template” by using the “Save as type” drop-down. Then click the “Save” button to save the new email template. You can then select your Inbox and create a new rule for the Inbox using the “Rules Wizard.” If you need to review creating mail box rules, please read lesson “13.1- Creating Mailbox Rules” in the “Advanced Outlook” manual within this product. When you create the rule, ensure that the rule will be triggered when the condition is set to mail that is received by you. Then set the action to be reply using a template. You can then edit the rule and select the email template that you just created as the email template to use. You can then finish the rule as you normally would, and click the “Finish” button when you are done. You can then enable and disable the rule, as needed, in order to send an “Out of Office” reply to received email by using the mailbox rules on your non-Exchange email account.



Autoforwarding Email

If you do not have the ability to access your Outlook emails remotely, then another useful feature for lawyers is the ability to have Outlook automatically forward email you receive to another email account you can access from your mobile devices. This way, you can still check your email when traveling or when you have a free moment when in court. You can set up automatic forwarding on your Outlook email account. You can easily set up autoforwarding by applying a mailbox rule that forwards all mail from your Inbox to an email account you specify. Note that if you are using an Exchange Server for your email account, you should talk to the person responsible for maintaining the server to ensure that you can automatically forward email to an outside address. They may need to tweak settings on the Exchange Server to allow for this, as Exchange Server is set to not automatically reply or forward email to the Internet by default for security purposes.

However, if you are using Outlook for POP email accounts that download to a local PST folder, you can easily apply a mailbox rule that will allow you to forward any mail received to another email address that you specify. If you need to review creating mail box rules, please read lesson “13.1- Creating Mailbox Rules” in the “Advanced Outlook” manual within this product. When you create this rule on your Inbox, you simply choose to have all mail that is received be forwarded. You then enter the email address to which you wish to forward the email that you receive. Just as when using your other email rules, be sure to disable the rule when you return to your office to turn off the autoforwarding.