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Our office is closing for the holidays, and I want to setup an auto reply if anyone attempts to email. Rather than get everyone to do it individually I want to set a blanket message on the Exchange 2010 server.

Looking around here I found hub transport rules can be used, but I don't want to send a rejection message, like in this post I want to keep the message but just say that we won't get back to you fora couple of weeks.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

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I can think of a bit of a hacky way to do this, but it might leave you with undesired results (read: run this command at your own peril). You don't specify the size of your organization, but this is probably only really appropriate for a small number of mailboxes.

You can manipulate the mailbox auto reply configuration (out of office) using PowerShell, which means you are able to change the OOF message and turn it on in bulk.

I'll put the warnings about running the command before actually posting the command, just so you read them.

  • This will change the users OOF message - it is not a temporary message
  • If the user has rules configured to forward messages to another user when they are OOF they will become active. I haven't tested it and don't know how Exchange will react to a forwarding rule such as User 1 <==> User 2 (User 1 forwards to User 2, and User 2 forwards to User 1)
  • If you have a user who is out of the office for an extended period (maternity leave for example) the Christmas OOF message will continue to be sent until it is turned off.

In the Exchange Management Shell, run Get-Mailbox -OrganizationalUnit "Acme Widgets Users" | Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration -AutoReplyState Enabled -ExternalMessage "The office is now closed until <<some time>>. Your email will be dealt with on my return."

Change the message as desired, and if you're feeling particularly adventurous you can change the condition (the preceding Get-Mailbox) to something more suitable. Please also test the command without the Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration to see what users will be affected.

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Here's a webpage with related syntax: (…). I'd suggest that he check for users that already have messages set, etc., prior to setting the message for all users. All easily accomplished using PowerShell. I'd personally be afraid to run that on all mailboxes (get-mailbox with no params)... IIRC, that would include system mailboxes, special mailboxes, etc. – Stemen Dec 22 '10 at 23:52
@Stemen very good point about the system mailbox. I've modified the cmdlet to include an OU scope. – Ben Pilbrow Dec 23 '10 at 0:21

I think Exclaimer's Mail Utilities product might be able to do that, although they're a little vague on the specifics of the "Email Auto-Responder" feature of the product. I suspect it can do this, though, because it runs on the server and basically generates custom hub transport rules. I've used it (for the 30-day free trial) before to append a nicely formatted advertisement to each outgoing email, and as I recall it was easy to use and easy to uninstall when the trial ran out.

Hope this helps.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

The one thought I had is to setup a hub transport rule for all external emails to copy to a certain address, and setup out of office assistant on that address. Not sure if that works but surely there is a proper way to do this?

edit: this is what I ended up doing, made them redirect to an email address, which then had an out of office reply. Worked well.

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