Configure Automatic Replies for a user in Exchange 2010

A user is out of office for some reason – on vacation, sick, on a sabbatical or extended leave of absence, or traveling to a remote location on business, and forgets to set an automatic reply, also known as an Out of Office message or OOF in Exchange/Outlook lingo. As an Exchange administrator, you get an email from the user’s manager asking you to configure an OOF for the user.

In previous versions of Exchange, you would need to access the user’s mailbox to be able to do this. Out of Office messages are stored in the Non-IPM tree of a user’s mailbox along with other metadata. Without access to the mailbox, you can’t modify data in it. Two ways for an admin to access a mailbox:

  1. Grant yourself Full Access mailbox permission to the user’s mailbox.
  2. Change the user’s password and log in as user.

It is safe to say that either of these options is potentially dangerous. The first option grants the administrator access to all of the data in the user’s mailbox. The second option grants the administrator access to all of the data that the user account can access within your company and locks the user out of his own user account (as the user in question no longer knows the account password).

In Exchange 2010, you can configure auto-reply options for your users without using either of the above options. You must be a member of a role group that has either the Mail Recipients or User Options management roles.

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Anderson Patricio
Twitter: @apatricio

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