Setting Up Your ‘I’m Away’ Email

Feb 10, 2012

This is a slight pet peeve of mine, so forgive me if I come across a bit ranty.

I get so annoyed when I continue to receive the same ‘I’m out of the office’ or ‘I’m checking email twice a day’ email every time I send a message to certain people. It becomes just one more thing filling up my inbox, and we all know that we don’t need that!

Don’t get me wrong, I know these emails are important. I do want to know if you are out of the office on vacation or if you only check email at certain times. Then of course I know when to expect a reply.

What annoys me is the fact that I’m getting this same email over and over again, especially when it’s someone I email multiple times a day. To protect the not-so-innocent, notice how I’m refraining from naming names. 😉

So here’s the tech tip. Most of us set up an autoresponder in our email hosting plan. This sends out an email in response to every new email – indiscriminately. The autoresponder isn’t smart enough to know if the same person has sent 10 emails or even 20.

The alternative – much friendlier – is one you can set up using a Gmail account.

Guess what? Gmail is much smarter than your average ordinary email autoresponder. It knows to send out your automated message just once every 4 days to each individual that emails you. Translation? It doesn’t matter how many emails a particular individual sends you in a short space of time, your ‘I’m away’ reply will be sent just once every 4 days. Love it!

How to set this up for yourself?

If you already use Gmail as your main email service, you simply need to turn on the Vacation responder setting. To do this:

  • Click ‘Settings’ at top of page. You will be on the ‘General’ tab.
  • Page down a bit and you will see the Vacation Responder section
  • Put in the message you want to send out and set the Vacation Responder to on

If you don’t use Gmail as your main email service
, for example, you collect your email in Outlook, or in webmail or something else, there are a couple of extra steps.

(This is what I do as I’m an Outlook fan, which may make some of you cringe, but hey, it works.)

  • Setup a Gmail account for yourself, or if you have one already dust it off.
  • Set your regular email account to forward to the Gmail account.
  • Repeat the steps above. Forwarding your email on to Gmail causes Gmail to do its job with your ‘I’m away’ message.

Done! Just that easy…and don’t forget to send an email to yourself to test it and make sure it works.


  1. Tracey Lawton

    I switched from Outlook to Gmail last year … and LOVE it!  But I didn’t know about this Tina – thank you.  I’ve posted an article on my blog about my top 3 favourite Gmail productivity tool that are helping me:

  2. Lisa Wells


    I’m an Outlook girl too and this is
    a great idea – Thanks Tina!

  3. Amy R Derr

    Awesome tip!  Thanks, Tina!


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