DoC Computing Support Group

Email: Setting up an automatic out-of-office email reply

Proceed as follows to set up automatic out-of-office email:

  • Login to any Linux system. If you don't have Linux on your desktop PC, then use the Windows SSH client to login to, say, shell1. Make sure you're sitting in your home directory (i.e. type 'cd' first). If you're not confident enough to use Linux, please ask us for assistance - we'll be happy to give you a hand setting up out-of-office email.

  • Create the file .vacation.msg in your home directory - this should contain the message you wish people to see while you're away. For example:

Subject: I'm away

I'm away from college until 10th April and will answer your
message when I return.

  • If you like, you can include $SUBJECT in your message - vacation replaces this with the actual subject line of the message. So, for instance, lots of people like to say:

Subject: Re: $SUBJECT

I'm away from college until 10th April and will answer your
message (about $SUBJECT) when I return.

  • Each time you go on vacation, you need to create an empty pair of files for vacation to use to record who it's already emailed:

rm -f .vacation.dir .vacation.pag
touch .vacation.dir .vacation.pag
  • To activate vacation, edit your .forward in your home directory, go down to the end of it, after any spam processing rules you may have, and add a section like:

# When on vacation - setup .vacation.msg; clear .vacation.{dir,pag} and
# uncomment the following line, changing "initial.surname" to your long
# form mail name (eg. d.white)
unseen pipe "/usr/bin/vacation -a initial.surname $local_part"
  • [replacing initial.surname with your long form mail name, eg. d.white or d.white08].

  • Finally, send yourself a test message to check that you successfully get an email message from vacation. If you can't get this to work, please comment out the above vacation line [insert a hash ('#') symbol so that last line reads something like:

#unseen pipe "/usr/bin/vacation -a d.white $local_part"

... and come to see us to get help. In particular, please don't go on vacation leaving vacation broken, because this replies to every user who emails you telling them that you broke your vacation setup!

  • When you return from your holiday and want to turn off the vacation message just comment out the vacation line in your .forward file. Then you'll have it there in future.


guides/email/vacation (last edited 2009-06-17 15:15:57 by dcw)