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How to Set up a Vacation Reply in Windows Live Hotmail

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Don't you like those emails that just disappear? You send them and... well, that's about it. Did the intended recipient ever receive it? Will they reply later or do they not reply intentionally? Have they just forgotten? Behind on email? Or are they on vacation maybe?

You don't want to be on either end of such a disappearing email message — and while you cannot deal with incoming emails promptly (because you're travelling, say, or busy with a project that requires deep and prolonged thinking), Windows Live Hotmail can let expecting senders know. Of course, you can tell them when you'll be able to get back to them personally — or when they should re-send their message if they still haven't gotten a reply not automated.

Set up a Vacation Reply in Windows Live Hotmail

To make Windows Live Hotmail reply to incoming emails in your absence:

  • Select Options | More options... from the Windows Live Hotmail toolbar.
  • Follow the Sending automated vacation replies link under Managing your account.
  • Make sure Send vacation replies to people who email me is selected.
  • Type your desired out-of-office message under Enter the message you'd like to send while you're away:.
    • Possibly include approximate info on when you will be able to reply personally.
    • Who to contact in the meantime or an alternative way of reaching you might also be appropriate.
    • In general, keep the message simple. Something like "I'm currently unable to read my mail, sorry! Come February, I'll get back to you. In the meantime, you can..." shall do.
    • The subject Windows Live Hotmail uses for automatic replies is "Vacation reply", by the way.
  • If you frequently get mail from people not yet in your Windows Live Hotmail address book, make sure Only reply to your contacts is not checked.
  • Click Save.

Windows Live Hotmail will now reply to all incoming emails (or just those from people already in your address book) — but only once for each four-day period per contact.

Turn Off the Windows Live Hotmail Auto-Responder

To disable your auto-reply when you return, follow the steps above but make sure Don't send any vacation replies is selected.

(Updated July 2011)

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