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Out of office reply with thunderbird

Below you will find instructions for the newbie or the novice on how to set up an automatic "Out of Office" email auto reply or a "On Vacation" auto response if you use Mozilla Thunderbird as your email client in a POP3 account. For more information about the Mozilla Thunderbird client, please refer to this site.

The email service that normally comes with your internet service is a POP3 system.

Your computer must be on and connected to the internet and thunderbird must also stay on for the auto-reply to work.

Consequently, this method will only run with an internet service that is always connected such as a Cable or ADSL connection.

1. Creating the reply message

Thunderbird has its own text editor, and we will use it to create our out of office reply message.

Thunderbird text editor

This will open the Thunderbird text editor, and you can write your reply.

Thunderbird reply message

Left clickon File, and Save As, Template

Important. The name of the template is the same as the subject. As you will notice in the picture above, we called it "Out of office reply".

Thunderbird save as template

Save As happens very fast, and there is no feedback that acknowledges that the template was actually saved.


2. Creating the out of office rule

Left click on Tools, and Message Filters

Thunderbird message rules

Select New

Thunderbird message filter

The next step consists of setting up the rules.

Once you click on Reply with template in the left drop down menu, you will be able to select the Out of office reply from the second drop down menu.

As an option you may wish to mark your message as read, as shown below.

Mark message as read

We now have to determine to whom the reply should apply.

Thunderbird reply rule adressee

In the example above, the rule will apply when the email To section contains our email address. You would insert your own.

In the top window under Filter name, replace the Untitled Filter with a name for the filter like: Out of office reply.


3 Turning the out of office rule on and off

We have to return to the Message filter by selecting Tools and then Message Filters in the opening page of Thunderbird.

Thunderbird turning a rule On or Off



4 Changing the template message

This is a very simple procedure with Mozilla Thunderbird. Simply open it up and select Templates.

Changing the template message in Mozilla's Thunderbird

Selecting Templates and clicking on Out of office reply will bring up your template. All you need to do is change the message in the lower half


5 Lastly, Thunderbird has to be set to check mail periodically

This is normally on by default, however it is good to confirm that Mozilla Thunderbird does indeed check for email every once in a while.

Thunderbird accoutn settings

Select Account Settings

Thunderbird account settings page

You have the option to determine how often Thunderbird will check for mail on the internet.


6 Spam considerations

Unfortunately, in today's world, email spam is a reality that we have to deal with.

With this in mind, every time you answer a spam email, you are indicating to the spamer that he has found a valid email address, in this instance yours. You are turning this rule on at your own risk.