Auto respond

The Auto respond action in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro expands the limited native capabilities of Exchange Server when it comes to managing auto-replies in your organization. With CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro you can create sophisticated auto-replies for any user or a group of users centrally, without setting up anything on the end users’ email clients. All auto-replies are sent out automatically to incoming messages that meet the criteria defined in the Conditions, Exceptions, Actions and Options tabs.

How to configure this action

To activate this action, click Add on the Actions tab and select Auto respond (Fig. 1.).

ExchangeRulesPRO-Autorespond1
Fig. 1. Choosing the Auto respond action on the Actions tab.

The Auto respond action will appear on the list of actions, while the Action definition pane to the right will show its properties (Fig. 2.). 

ExchangeRulesPRO-Autorespond2
Fig. 2. The properties pane of the Auto respond action.

The Action definition pane lets you define the following properties:

Loop protection

The first available option is Loop protection (Fig. 3.). This feature prevents the looping of auto-replies, that is the situation in which two users, who both have auto-replies set up, start exchanging auto-replies in an endless loop (an auto-reply from one user triggers an auto-reply on the other user’s end).

In the Loop protection window you can specify how many Auto respond actions can be triggered within a given time frame. Loop protection is enabled by default and the limit is set to 10 auto-replies per hour.

ER Pro 2.x - loop protection window.
Fig. 3. The Loop protection window.

Auto-replies are counted separately for each user that receives them. For example, if 5 different users send messages to the email address for which the Auto respond action is set, they will receive up to 50 auto-replies in total (no more than 10 auto-replies each).

Every counter is active for a specified period of time, which can be defined in minutes, hours or days. Every period of counter activity starts when the first auto-reply is sent. Each rule has its own separate counter.

These examples explain how Loop protection works for two autoresponder rules:

  • There are two rules defined:
    • Support Team Auto-reply with a limit of 3 Auto respond actions per hour.
    • Management Team Auto-reply with a limit of 1 Auto respond action per day.
  • John Doe sends his first message to the Support Team at 11.05 and receives the team’s auto-reply for the first time. The counter for the Support Team Auto-reply now starts for him and will be active until 12.05. At 11.35 John realizes that he needs to provide the team with more information, so he sends two further messages and he receives the team’s auto-reply to each message. He has now sent 3 messages in total and received 3 auto-replies, so his auto-reply limit has been used up. The counter resets at 12.05 and if John sends a message after that time, he will receive the auto-reply again.
  • John recalls that he has something to discuss with the company's Management Team, so at 11.40 he sends a message to that team. The counter for the Management Team Auto-reply now starts for him. Since counters work independently from each other, John receives an auto-reply from the management team. If he decides to provide more information in a separate message within the next 24 hours, he will receive no auto-reply. The counter will reset at 11.40 the following day. If John sends a message at 11.45 the following day, he will receive the auto-reply again.

The Sender, To, CC and BCC fields

In the Sender field you can choose the name that will appear in the From field of the auto-reply.

The To button is used to define the Recipient of the auto-reply.

You can also choose who will appear in the carbon copy field (the CC button) or will receive the blind carbon copy (the BCC button).

Click any of the buttons to select a user that will appear in the corresponding field. You can indicate:

  • Email Address – a specific email address.
  • AD User – Active Directory user that can be selected through a standard AD query dialog box.
  • AD Group – Active Directory group that can be selected through a standard AD query dialog box.
  • Original recipient – the original recipient of the message that triggered the auto-reply.

Subject

In the Subject field (Fig. 4.), you can choose to either leave the original message subject (indicated by the {Original Subject} placeholder) or modify it using a variety of options. Click the Subject button to include additional information in the auto-reply subject field, for example:

  • the sender’s data, such as country, department, etc.,
  • other information pulled from Active Directory,
  • counters,
  • current date/time,
  • and other.

Exchange Rules Pro subject field
Fig. 4. The Subject field options.

Attachments

You can set the program to automatically add attachment(s) to auto-replies. Click the Attachment button to open a dialog box where you can either select a folder containing all the files that you want to attach (Fig. 5.) or add files located in different folders.

ER Pro 2.x - autoresponder attachment window.
Fig. 5. Autoresponder attachment window.

Action

Next, you can specify what happens to the original message that triggered the auto-reply action. The choice is between (Fig. 6.):

  • removing the original email text from the auto-reply,
  • keeping the original email text below the auto-reply,
  • adding the original email as an attachment.
ExchangeRulesPRO-Autorespond2
Fig. 6. Available auto respond actions.

Body format

The Body format field allows you to compose the body of the auto-reply. Use the drop-down menu to toggle between the HTML and the Plain Text format. Click the Edit body button to open the auto-reply editor and compose the message. The auto-reply editor looks similar to the built-in signature and disclaimer Editor, but fewer options are available. The editor is also different for HTML (Fig. 7.) and for Plain Text (Fig. 8.) messages.

Exchange Rules Pro - Autorespond Editor HTML
Fig. 7. The HTML autoreply editor.
Exchange Rules Pro - Autorespond Editor Plain Text
Fig. 8. The Plain Text autoreply editor.
Note that although you can compose an auto-reply in both the HTML and the Plain Text format in a single Auto respond action, the program will use only one of these formats. For example, if you set the Body format to HTML via the drop-down menu, the program will send the autoreply in the HTML format, regardless of the original message format. Likewise, if you set the Body format to Plain Text, all auto-replies will be sent as Plain Text messages, even when responding to HTML messages.

Important

Auto-replies set up in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro work independently from auto-replies set up in email clients. If a user creates an auto-reply on their email client and you create an auto-reply for that user in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro, both auto-replies will be active. Depending on each auto-reply’s settings, a sender may receive two auto-replies to the same message: one set up by the user in their email client and the other set up by you in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

If you wish to take full control of auto-replies in your organization and be able to overwrite auto-replies created by users in their email clients, consider using CodeTwo Out of Office Manager, our freeware application.

See next

How to configure the program to send autoreplies to incoming messages outside working hours

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