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Chapter 8. Organizing Your Mobile Tools > Letting People Know You’re Away

Letting People Know You’re Away

When you’re on vacation or a professional retreat, you might not check your e-mail for a week or more. Before considering alternatives for handling your e-mail when you’re away, it’s important to understand one crucial fact about how e-mail works. E-mail comes from the sender to your e-mail server, where it stays until you retrieve it using Outlook or another e-mail client. The server is usually either a standard e-mail POP3 server, a Hotmail server, or Microsoft Exchange. To handle e-mail when you are away, either your computer must be on and checking e-mail regularly or it must be handled at the server. Given this, there are three alternatives for handling your e-mail when you’re away.

  • From Microsoft Exchange. If you are connected to Microsoft Exchange, you can access the Out Of Office Assistant—a wizard that helps you create rules that are stored on the Exchange Server to handle your e-mail. Contact your Exchange administrator for details about what functionality has been enabled on your system.

  • From a POP3 server. If you have a POP3 account (as most Internet e-mail accounts are), there are three functions your ISP may provide. First, it might be possible to forward your e-mail to another address. In this case, a coworker might be able to respond to e-mail for you. Second, the ISP might provide a simple Away From Office utility that sends a message to the sender saying you are away and keeps the e-mail in your POP3 Inbox. Third, your ISP might provide autoresponders so you can automatically send a file back to the sender (containing your “I’m away” message). However, the autoresponder might not save the e-mail so use this with caution. Most major ISPs have a Web-based administration screen that allows e-mail users to configure these preferences by logging on with a user name and password—often your e-mail UserID and password. Check with your ISP for details.


    Be careful about using an autoresponder if you belong to an e-mail list. It can be very annoying to list members to receive your out of office message for a week. You may want to temporarily stop your e-mail list subscriptions while you are gone. See “Participating in an E-mail List” on page 25 for more information.

  • From your computer. Leave your computer on, set Outlook to check for messages periodically, and create a rule that handles your e-mail. Generally your first rule should be one that filters junk mail. Common additional rules you might consider are ones that respond to all messages with a “I’m away” message, forward all e-mail to a colleague, or forward mail from selected senders or with selected subjects to a colleague.

    See Also

    For more information about creating rules, see “Automating E-mail Organization” on page 137.



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