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How to set up out-of-office replies in Gmail

With the upcoming holidays, here's how to set up your OOO (out of office) replies, so you're prepared for your time off.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
American Airlines plane in the sky.
Getty Images

Vacation. It's all you ever wanted and needed. It's that thing that refuels your cells, makes it possible to get back to the grind, and do the things you do so that you may keep the lights on at home and businesses can keep chugging along.

When you go on vacation, you're still going to receive emails every day. 

And if you're very busy, those emails will stack up. 

That's fine because you can deal with them later. But what about the people who sent you the email? 

They may not know you're on vacation and the time between them sending the missive and you finally replying when you get back from vacation can be a source of concern. After all, what if they're sending you timely information that must be acted on?

Also: How to use confidential mode in Gmail to protect sensitive information

If they have to start wondering why you're not responding, they might well assume you're not doing the work required or don't care about the relationship (whatever that may be). 

Don't worry, there's a way to help. Out-of-office replies have been around for a very long time. Essentially, they work as automatic replies that you set up to take effect when you're out of the office and cease when you return. Nearly every email service offers such an option, and Google's Gmail is no different.

How to set up out-of-office replies in Gmail

I want to show you how to set up your OOO replies in Gmail. It's very simple and can save you a lot of headaches.


The only thing you need for this is a valid Gmail account. This can be from either a free or paid version of Google Workspace. Once you have that, you're almost set to hit the beach, the mountains, or just your couch.

1. Log in to Google

The first thing to do is open a web browser and then log in to your Google account. Once logged in, head to gmail.com.

2. Open the Gmail Settings app

From the Settings pop-up, click See all settings.

The Gmail Settings menu.

Accessing the Gmail All Settings window from the pop-up menu.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Locate Vacation responder

With Gmail, the out of office replies are called Vacation responder and can be found at the bottom of the General tab in Gmail Settings. 

Also: How to change your Gmail inbox layout (and why you might want to)

The Gmail Vacation responder options.

All of the OOO configurations are found in one place.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Configure your OOO settings

The first thing to do is click the checkbox for Vacation responder so that it's on. Next, add your first day out of the office. Click the checkbox for Last day and then add the last day you'll be OOO. Once you've taken care of the start and end dates, add a subject like, "Out of the office from 11/11-11/18."

Next, compose the email that will be sent with the reply. In this email, you might add information that would guide the recipient to another employee, should the need arise. What's important here is that you give others all the information they need to understand how long you'll be out of the office and who they can contact if needed.

You can also format the body of the email and even include links to resources the recipient may need.

5. Save changes

Once you've finished, click Save changes and you're done. On the first day of your vacation, the auto-replies will be sent. As soon as you come back, the auto-replies will cease.

And there you go, you've set up your out of office replies and are ready for that much-needed vacation. Enjoy.

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