Setting up Email Auto-Replies

Note: this material is now obsolete for the majority of users who should use the current documentation for guidance.

This document provides information on how to setup and email auto reply for whilst you are away

The vacation program is used to send an automatic email reply whilst you are away. The vacation program is called by its presence in your .forward file. If you already have a .forward file you are advised to make a copy of the file and then remove the existing .forward file.

The command line tool vacation can be used to automatically configure this and to setup the reply message. This command is only available on Solaris based systems. The first time you run it, you will be guided through setting up the auto response message and will be asked whether or not you wish to enable vacation. Once you have setup vacation, the message that is sent to users is stored in the .vacation.msg file located in your home directory.

Disabling Vacation

When you return from vacation, you should run the vacation program again to remove the auto response. Removing the .forward file will also stop auto-replies.

Who does the reply get sent to and how often?

The vacation program only sends auto-response messages to people if your username is listed in the To: or CC: field of the message - this avoids messages being sent back to any mailing lists you may be a member of. The vacation program also keeps track of people it has sent an auto-reply to and will not by default send another one within a week.

Staff Mailnames

Members of staff will need to edit the .forward file if they want messages sent to their mail name to have replies sent to it, you need to add the -a option with your mail alias, for example default .forward file after running vacation:
    \ano, "|/usr/bin/vacation ano"
And with the -a option to specify your mail name as an alias for your account:
    \ano, "|/usr/bin/vacation -a A.N.Other ano"

If you do not do this, auto-replies will not be returned to people who send email to you mail name.

We strongly recommend that you do not use the -j option to ignore To: and CC: checks as this will cause auto-responses to be sent to mailing lists.