How to Set an Automatic Vacation Responder in Gmail

May 27, 2018 - 1 Comment

How to set an automatic responder email in Gmail

If you’re a Gmail user and you’re going to be away from email, on vacation, or out of the office for a while, you may want to set an automatic email responder message directly through Gmail.

Auto-Responders, “Out of Office” responders, and Vacation Responders work much like the names imply; when they’re enabled and someone sends you an email, they will get an automatic reply from your email account with a message of your choice, usually saying something like “I’m away from my office right now, please call my cell phone or contact someone else for assistance.”

This tutorial will walkthrough how to configure and setup an automatic email responder for a Gmail account, it can be set from any web browser on any device, including Windows PC, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, Chrome OS, or anything else you can access the Gmail website from.

Gmail makes setting up an auto-responder very easy, and you can set start dates and end dates for the vacation responder, or you can have it take effect immediately and last indefinitely until you manually turn the vacation/automatic responder off yourself. Of course you can customize the email reply subject and message too.

How to Set an Automatic Vacation Responder with Gmail

Using this Gmail based approach is accessed and setup through the web on A significant advantage to this method is that it will handle the automatic responder emails on the Gmail server side, meaning before the email gets to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, this can make the Gmail-based auto “out of office” responses faster and more reliable than setting them up on a local device, particularly if the device(s) in question are going to be on limited network or cell phone coverage.

  1. Go to Google Mail or and login to the email account you wish to setup an auto-responder for
  2. Access Gmail Settings by clicking the gear icon and then choosing “Settings” from the drop-down menu, or by going to the following URL:

  4. Scroll down to find the “Vacation Responder” section of General Gmail settings
  5. Check the box next to “Vacation responder ON”
  6. How to set an automatic vacation responder Out Of Office reply email in Gmail

  7. Fill out the Vacation Responder settings for Gmail, including the following:
    • First Day
    • Last Day (optional, this will automatically end the vacation responder)
    • Subject
    • Message
    • Select whether or not you wish to only send the vacation auto-responder to users in your Contacts
  8. When satisfied with your Vacation Responder configuration, choose “Save Changes”

Note that if you have the Start Date set to todays date (whatever today is), the auto-responder will start immediately.

The Vacation Responder / Out of Office setting in Gmail is described as follows by Gmail:

“(sends an automated reply to incoming messages. If a contact sends you several messages, this automated reply will be sent at most once every 4 days)”

In other words, if someone keeps sending you emails, they will not keep getting auto-reply messages, but will get another one in several days if they happen to send another email at that time.

As mentioned before, using the Gmail based approach is great for Gmail users because it handles the automatic responder on the Gmail server side of things, basically as soon as Gmail gets the email in your inbox it will respond with the automatic responder message. That differs from when you setup or use auto-responders on the device side of things, because when an auto-responder is configured on a local device, it must have internet access to check the email and then send a response. For a practical example, this means setting up the Gmail auto-responder directly through Gmail would send the auto-reply message even in a situation where your iPhone, iPad, or Mac has no internet connection – say on an airplane over the pacific or at the top of Mount Everest – whereas the local device based method is not able to do that since it requires an active internet connection to detect and send the auto-reply. Nonetheless, if you’re interested you can also learn how to setup auto-responders for Mail on Mac OS, along with setting up auto-responder “Out of Office” emails for Mail on iPhone and iPad.

You can also turn on and adjust the auto-responder in Gmail with the Gmail app for iPhone and iPad, or Android, using the in-app settings much the same way as described here. We’re focusing on the web based gmail client here, however.

How to Turn Off “Out of Office” Vacation Responder Emails on Gmail

  1. Go to and login to the email account in question
  2. Click the gear icon, then select “Settings” from the drop-down menu, or visit the following URL when logged into your Gmail account:

  4. Scroll down to the “Vacation Responder” section of general settings
  5. Toggle the button for “Vacation Responder off”
  6. Choose “Save Changes”

And that’s it, if you didn’t set an end date where the auto-reply email will stop itself automatically, you can toggle the responder off at any time this way instead.

You can turn off or on the automatic responder in Gmail at any time, either through the web or through the Gmail app on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

Know of any other helpful tips or tricks for setting up Out Of Office reply emails, vacation responders, and other automatic replies? Share them in the comments below!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Tips & Tricks

One Comment

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  1. Ludo says:

    How does Gmail vacation responder work?

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