How to Create an AutoResponder in Mail for Mac

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Have you ever wanted to setup an auto-responder eMail message in the Mac Mail app? Autoresponders allow you to set an “out of office” auto-reply that gets sent automatically as a reply to any inbound email to the Mac Mail app. This is great solution for situations where you’re out of the office, away from a desk, or otherwise away from email for a while, whether it’s a vacation or maybe you just hate replying to emails. Whatever the reason, all inbound emails will get an automated response with the message of your choice.

If you’ve ever sent someone an email and then received an immediate reply that said something like “I’m out of the office right now, please reach me on my cell phone at 555-555-5555” then you have seen how an auto-responder email works. This tutorial will show you how to set up an autoresponder just like that, from within the Mail app for Mac.

Setting up autoresponders in Mail for Mac works the same on basically every version of Mail app and Mac OS, so this should be version and release agnostic. As long as you have an email account added to the Mail app for Mac and have the Mail app open and running, the auto-reply will be sent.

How to Create an Autoresponder Email Reply in Mail for Mac OS

We’re going to make a broad all-encompassing email auto-responder, meaning the auto-reply will be sent instantly to every single inbound email message to the Mac Mail app.

  1. Open the Mail app if you haven’t done so already
  2. Pull down the “Mail” men and choose “Preferences”
  3. Click on “Rules” tab
  4. Click “Add Rule”
  5. How to create an autoresponder for email in Mail for Mac

  6. Fill out a Description and name it something obvious, like “Vacation Auto-Responder”
  7. Under the “If conditions are met” section, choose “Every Message” from the drop down menu options
  8. Now at the “Perform following actions” section, choose “Reply to Message” from the drop down menu options
  9. How to create an autoresponder for email in Mail for Mac

  10. Next click on “Reply message text…” and enter your auto-responder email message, then click “OK” and click “OK” again to set the Mail auto-responder
  11. How to create an autoresponder for email in Mail for Mac

  12. Click “OK” again to set and enable the Mail auto-responder
  13. How to create an autoresponder for email in Mail for Mac

That’s it, the auto-reply autoresponder has been set.

You can confirm it’s working as expected by sending yourself an email, which should quickly get the automated response that you set in the auto-responder Rules.

If desired, you can setup much more complex rules to auto-reply and autoresponders, for example you could apply the auto-reply to specific senders, specific email from domains, to specific people, to VIP only, for specific dates, and so much more. That is all up to you. For our purposes here we are keeping things simple with a broad universal email auto-reply to all emails from all recipients.

Disabling and Enabling the Autoresponder in Mail for Mac

Once you create the auto-responder it will be enabled autoamtically. But you can later disable, or re-enable that autoresponder again at any time by simply doing the following:

  1. Open Mail app on the Mac and go to the “Mail” menu and choose “Preferences”
  2. Go to ‘Rules’ and check or uncheck the box next to your autoresponder (labeled as “Vacation Auto-Responder” in this tutorial)

If you do not ever disable the autoresponder, it will be enabled and in use for perpetuity as long as the Mail app on the Mac is open and the rule is enabled.

Email autoresponders are commonly used for business but many people use them for personal email too. Maybe you’re away from your desk and you want people to know immediately that is the case, or maybe you’re on vacation and don’t want people to email you thinking they’re being ignored, or maybe you do want to ignore email so you’re setting an auto-reply email message that says so. There are many potential use cases for autoresponders in email, so use your imagination and set the conditions as you see fit.

Creating autoresponders for email is just one of the many features available with the Rules feature in Mail for Mac. Mail Rules can be quite powerful, offering the ability to remotely sleep a Mac from an iPhone or via any inbound email that meets the Sleep Mac requirements defined by the Mail rule. You can also create auto-forwarding, batch archiving, special sound effects for particular email senders, date specific actions, auto-deletion of emails fitting specific rules, amongst thousands of other possible options through automating email via the Mail for Mac Rules feature. Feel free to explore the Rules options, there are many interesting possibilities!

If you enjoyed this tip, you’d likely enjoy this collection of 8 particularly helpful Mail tricks for Mac, or you can browse through our Mail tips section.

Was this helpful to you? Do you have any other helpful Mail auto-responder tricks, or Mail Rules tricks for Mac? Share them with us in the comments below!

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