Configure Automatic Replies for a user in Exchange 2010


A user is out of office for some reason – on vacation, sick, on a sabbatical or extended leave of absence, or traveling to a remote location on business, and forgets to set an automatic reply, also known as an Out Of Office message or OOF in Exchange/Outlook lingo. As an Exchange administrator, you get an email from the user’s manager asking you to configure an OOF for the user.

In previous versions of Exchange, you would need to access the user’s mailbox to be able to do this. Out of Office messages are stored in the Non-IPM tree of a user’s mailbox along with other metadata. Without access to the mailbox, you can’t modify data in it. Two ways for an admin to access a mailbox:

  1. Grant yourself Full Access mailbox permission to the user’s mailbox.
  2. Change the user’s password and log in as user.

It is safe to say that either of these options is potentially dangerous. The first option grants the administrator access to all of the data in the user’s mailbox. The second option grants the administrator access to all of the data that the user account can access within your company and locks the user out of his own user account (as the user in question no longer knows the account password).

In Exchange 2010, you can configure auto-reply options for your users without using either of the above options. You must be a member of a role group that has either the Mail Recipients or User Options management roles.

Configure auto-reply options using the Exchange Control Panel

To configure an auto-reply using the ECP:

  1. From Mail > Options, select Another User (default My Organization).

    Figure 1: Select Another User

  2. Select the user you want to configure the auto-reply for

  3. In the new window, ensure the user’s name is displayed in the alert message, and then click Tell people you’re on vacation

    Figure 2: When managing another user in the ECP, an alert near the top of the page displays the name of the user you’re managing

  4. From the Automatic Replies tab, configure the auto-reply options for the user (see screenshot).

In Exchange 2007, we introduced the ability to create different Out of Office messages for external and internal recipients. You can also disable or enable Out of Office messages on a per-user basis and on a per-remote domain basis in Remote Domain settings. For details, see previous post Exchange Server 2007 Out of Office (OOF).

Configure auto-reply options using the Shell

This command schedules internal and external auto-replies from 9/8/2011 to 9/15/2011:

Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration bsuneja@e14labs.com –AutoReplyState Scheduled –StartTime “9/8/2011” –EndTime “9/15/2011” –ExternalMessage “External OOF message here” –InternalMessage “Internal OOF message here”

To configure auto-replies to be sent until they’re disabled (i.e. without a schedule), set the AutoReplyState parameter to Enabled and do not specify the StarTime and EndTime parameters. For detailed syntax and parameter descriptions, see Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration.

This command retrieves auto-reply settings for a mailbox.

Get-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration bsuneja@e14labs.com

This command disables auto-reply configured for a mailbox:

Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration bsuneja@e14labs.com –AutoReplyState Disabled –ExternalMessage $null –InternalMessage $null

Bharat Suneja

Comments (17)
  1. Courtenay Snell says:

    Been using this one for a while now. It has really resolved a large security hole that alot of my customers used to wrestle with. The balance between maintaining good email-feedback via OOF and managing rampant full access permissions for administrators/helpdesk across multiple mailboxes. And whats even better is that it is so easy to achive the desired result now without Full Access from either ECP or PS.

  2. Jim Sullivan says:

    Excellent! Wonder what other undocumented treasures lie beneath the surface.

  3. EnfoPaul says:

    Great article – one follow on question.

    I have a number of customers who would like to offload this function to line managers, instead of calling the Helpdesk.  Is there a way to limit which user's a manager can set their OOF message, as I wouldn't want to add managers to the Recipient or User Options roles as this would give them access to everyone's OOF settings instead of just the subset of users they are responsible for?

  4. Bill Prentice says:

    Just an aside for those who still have 2003 version recipients I have a VB script that allows me to do this very thing:

    ——————————-

    Set objMAPISession = CreateObject("MAPI.Session")

    strExchangeSvr = InputBox("Please provide the name of your Exchange Server")

    strMailbox = InputBox("Please provide the name of the Mailbox that you wish to set OOO")

    strMAPI = strExchangeSvr & vbLf & strMailbox

    On error Resume Next

    objMAPISession.Logon "", "", False, True, 0, False, strMAPI

    If err <> 0 Then

    Wscript.Echo "An Error occured: " & err.description

    Err.clear

    Wscript.Sleep 7000

    Wscript.Quit

    End If

    strOOOMessage = InputBox("Please type in the OOO message for this user")

    objMAPISession.OutOfOfficeText = strOOOMessage

    objMAPISession.OutOfOffice = 1

    strOOOMessage = objMAPISession.OutOfOfficeText

    objMAPISession.Logoff

    Set objMAPISession = Nothing

    ————————————–

  5. thomas says:

    Is there also a way to get about rules linked to the oof configuration in Outlook?

  6. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Courtenay & Jim: Thanks for the feedback!

    @EnfoPaul: Take a look at RBAC management role scopes (http://aka.ms/rbacrolescopes)

  7. jay says:

    I have an issue with my users that are Recipient Management Role,  they have Mail Recipients management Role, but not User Options Management Role, and they don't have the option to "Manage Another User" Can you clarify this?  Do they need both?

  8. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Jay: Either the Mail Recipients or the
    User Options management role should work.

    This command shows all role entries for the Mail Recipients management role. The output displays each cmdlet the role assignee can run, and also the cmdlet’s parameters that the assignee can use.

    (Get-ManagementRole "Mail Recipients").RoleEntries

    The Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration cmdlet is included in the role entries. You can also see the parameters of the cmdlet allowed for this role.

    Or use this command to get a complete list of parameters allowed:

    ((Get-ManagementRole "Mail Recipients").RoleEntries | ? {$_.Name -eq "Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration"}).parameters

    Similarly, for the User Options management role:

    ((Get-ManagementRole "User Options").RoleEntries | ? {$_.Name -eq "Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration"}).parameters

  9. Eric says:

    What Thomas said – can we also check and manage user's Outlook rules?

  10. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Thomas & Eric: You can manage Inbox Rules for your users using *-InboxRule cmdlets:

  11. jay says:

    Thanks Bharat, I did not attempt with the Powershell command, but adding the User Options role, allowed our security admins to get to the "Manage Another User" option from webmail.  Thanks!

  12. benpilbrow25@hotmail.com says:

    @Bharat – unless I'm being blind, the Get-InboxRule cmdlets only manage "normal" Exchange rules and you cannot change the forwarding rules for automatic replies.

    Is there some way of specifically manipulating the OOF forwarding rules, and if not has the Exchange team considered implementing such a feature? This would be very beneficial for a lot of users, including myself in the scenario when a user is off sick and their mail needs to be forwarded with the OOF to somebody else.

  13. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Ben: There’s no rule-based management for OOFs (except ability to send – or not – differnet OOFs to internal/external users and restrict external OOFs to Contacts).

    You can forward inbound mail for a user, as shown in
    Configure Mail Forwarding
    , but it’s not directly related to OOFs.

  14. David Carr says:

    I like this option. I am sure our admins will be happy to implement this for users who may have to be out of the office suddenly or for extended periods of time.

  15. YannickS says:

    Hi

    its completly off topic.

    but i found one of your scripts on your blog.

    but the downloadlink is broken, is there a way to get this file?

    exchangepedia.com/…/list-users-with-email-forwarded.html

    regards Yannnick

  16. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @YannickS: Here's the updated link to that post:

    List users with email forwarding enabled

    exchangepedia.com/…/list-users-with-email-forwarding-enabled.html

  17. mac cosmetics says:

    I just like the approach you took with this subject. It isn。ッt every day that you discover something so concise and enlightening.

Comments are closed.