The holidays are almost here and I’m sure most of you are probably going to be gone for those. You’ll either be visiting your children or grandchildren or even maybe getting away on a well deserved vacation. Either way, you’re not going to be at home sitting in front of your computer checking your e-mail everyday like you normally do. So, what do you do with all that e-mail? Just let it pile up and deal with it when you get back? Let’s take a look at your options for this one.
First of all, sometimes it is suggested to just let your e-mail collect while you’re away. You can just go through and delete out all the unwanted messages when you return. Yes, it might take you awhile to do it, but you won’t miss any important e-mails that way. Otherwise, some of them might slip through the cracks and you’ll never get to see them. Now, if you’re signed up for different mailing lists (newsletters, etc.), you can always stop those subscriptions while you’re away and then just resubscribe when you return. This is what WorldStart tells you to do with its newsletters. I know that can sometimes be a pain to do though. Lastly, you could always disable your e-mail completely and turn it back on when you get home, but that method is more work than it should be and who knows how long it will take to get it back up and running once you do get back home.
So, if you don’t like any of those options, what else can you do? Well, there’s a wonderful thing called an auto reply and you can use it to your advantage while you’re on your vacation! Now, creating a reply won’t stop your e-mail from coming in completely, but it will notify all your senders that you are away from your computer and if you’re lucky, they will stop sending you e-mails until you return. This will obviously work better for any friends who like to e-mail you than it will for any mailing lists you’re on (they’ll keep sending their e-mails no matter what), but in the end, you’ll be surprised at how much your e-mail count is cut down during your vacation time. You won’t be bogged down with as many e-mails this way.
Now, in your vacation reply, you’ll just want to tell everyone that you’re on vacation and you should include the dates that you’ll be gone. If you let the senders know when you’ll be back, they can pick up right where they left off with you when you first arrive back home. It’s also nice for them to know when you’ll be able to respond to them personally in case the e-mail is a little more important than just a forward, for example. You don’t need to go into many details in the signature. Just be short and sweet, but make sure you say what you need to say. Okay, so how do you do this in the different e-mail programs? Let’s take a look!
First of all, in Outlook Express, hit Create Mail just like you would if you were starting a new e-mail. Go ahead and type the message you would like to appear and then go to File, Save As. Give your auto reply a file name, make sure you know where you saved it and then click Save. You can now close that window.
Note: Make sure you save your reply in a filename.txt format so that just the text comes up in your auto message.
Now, you can make a new rule for your message, so you know it will go exactly where you want it to. Go to Tools, Message Rules and choose Mail. Click on New and in the first box, you’re going to choose the last option that says “For all messages.” In the second box, choose “Reply With Message” and in the third box, click on the link that says “Message.”
A new menu will appear and you can go and browse to find your saved auto reply message. Select your file and then click Open. In the fourth box there, you’ll want to name your rule “Auto Reply” and then click OK. Another window will pop up just confirming your rule and you can just click Apply Now.
Next, a screen will come up asking you where you want to place your selected rule. Make sure the Inbox is selected as the folder you want and then click Apply Now again, then Close. Then one more click on OK and you’ll be good to go.
Now, for the other e-mail programs.
For Yahoo! mail, go to your main mail page and choose Options, Vacation Response. You can set the dates you’re going to be gone and then type your message. Once you’re done, just click Turn Auto-Response On.
For AOL, this is called an away message, but it has the same general meaning. Log in to AOL and choose the Settings tab in your mailbox window. Click on the Away Message (E-mail) link and then turn on your away message. You can either pick “I am unavailable to read your message at this time” or you can pick a time for when you will return. Click OK when you’re done.
To create an auto reply in Gmail, log in to your account and click on the Settings link. Under the General tab, make sure the Vacation Responder is checked to be on. Next, type in what you want to say in your auto reply and click Save Changes.
In Mozilla Thunderbird, open it up and click on the Write icon to create a new message. Then write your auto reply message just like you normally would write an e-mail. Next, click Save and choose Template so it will be saved in your templates folder. Now, go to Tools, Message Filters and click on the New button. Choose a filter name (for example, “vacation response” or “auto reply”) and check the option of “Match any of the following.” Below that, use the drop down menus to choose “To” in the first box, “contains” in the second box and then type @ (the at sign) in the third box. The @ sign is a good default to use, because everyone’s e-mail address contains that symbol. The message will then be sure to auto reply any e-mail that comes through to your Inbox with that symbol. Now, under the “Perform these actions” list, choose “Reply with Template” and choose the Auto Reply template that you created. Click OK. The message rule will then show up under your filter list. If you have other filters already in place, make sure you move this one up to the very first spot. This will ensure that it will be sent out to anyone who e-mails you while you’re on vacation. Once you’re done with all that, just close out the window and you’ll be all set.
Now, make sure you don’t forget to turn these message filters off when you return from your vacation. It’s not hard to turn them off. Just go back in to each program like you did when you were creating the reply and reverse everything you did. For most of them, you just have to click one box that says something like “Responder off.” It’s all fairly simple to do and it’s a great way to ensure that your e-mail friends know where you’re at and why you’re not responding to them like you normally do. No harm in that. Give it a shot and have a wonderful holiday season!