Set Out of Office Replies (Vacation Response) in Fastmail
Derelict office building, all workers are out of the office.

Set Out of Office Replies (Vacation Response) in Fastmail


When going on holiday or away from work for a period of time, it’s common practice to set up an out of office on your email account. This is an automatic email response for anybody trying to contact you. Typically this will include the dates you expect to be away and who to contact instead if the email is urgent.


These instructions apply to the majority of our clients who use Fastmail for email services.

Some clients use Office 365 / Exchange Online – your instructions can be found here.

If you’re not sure, just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

What NOT To Do

There are a number of tutorials on the web which advise users of Apple Mail and Outlook to set up local Rules within their email program to achieve an automatic Out-of-Office reply. The rule is configured in the email application. It is set along the lines of “If I receive a new email before January, send the following reply automatically…”

This looks perfectly logical but please do NOT follow these tutorials. They have two fundamental flaws. The first is that your email program needs to be left running for the entire duration of the holiday period in order for the auto-reply rules to work. This is obviously impractical.

The second flaw is that certain tutorials’ instructions routinely cause every one of your existing emails to receive a direct reply with your Christmas out-of-office message. Needless to say this is rather annoying, especially when the same, regular correspondent receives many hundreds of emails from you.

We need to be setting the rules on the email system itself so that auto-replies can be sent accurately, sparingly and reliably, even if your computer is not running.

Method to Set Out of Office Replies in Fastmail

1 – Log into Fastmail via your web browser:

2 – Click the Mail menu at the top left > Settings > Spam Protection

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3 – Ensure that Spam Protection is set to a minimum level of “Standard”. This is a prerequisite to prevent auto-replies accidentally causing spam issues.

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4 – Switch to the Vacation Response settings in the left navigation column and fill out the form as required. You can optionally set a date range for the automatic reply to be active and automatically deactivated.

Note that to avoid unnecessary emails, each unique recipient will only receive your out-of-office a maximum of once every 3 days. So in the event they email you several times during your out-of-office period they won’t be bombarded with auto responses. Bear this in mind when testing. You will only receive one out-of-office message even if you send 10 test emails in quick succession to yourself.

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Date Name Comments
Sep 22nd Alastair B Dean, sorted out the outstanding aspects of my e-mail verification update swiftly, courteously and competently - with a good sense of humour
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