Out of office error message in outlook 2010


  • I am trying to set up 'out of office' in outlook 2010 and keep getting 'cannot reply to this message' window once the rule is applied. I am not on an exchange and have set the rule as specified by Microsoft below. I have tried several times now and still getting the error message which then sets the rule as 'error'. Can anyone help with this please.

    To emulate setting your Out of Office in Outlook 2010 using rules, open a new email message. Go to the Format Text tab and select Plain Text. Type an away message into the body of the email. It is helpful to provide details, such as when you will return and whom they should contact in your absence.

    Go to the File tab of the message and click Save As. Select Outlook Template in the Save as Type list, enter a name for the file and click Save. Close the message.


    Go to the Home tab of the ribbon. Click Rules in the Move group and select Manage Rules and Alerts. Make sure you are on the Email Rules tab and click New Rule. Select Apply Rule on Messages I Receive and click Next. Select the Sent Only To Me check box or the Where My Name is in the To Field check box and click Next.


    Select the Reply Using a Specific Template check box. Click the A Specific Template hyperlink in the Edit the Rule Description section. Select User Templates in the Look In box and click on the Out of Office Message template you created and saved. Click Open.

    Click Next. Select any additional exceptions you wish to add and set them up accordingly. Click Next. Enter a name for the rule and select Turn on This Rule. Click Finish and close the Rules and Alerts dialog box. Be sure to delete or turn off the rule when you return.


    Thursday, November 11, 2010 7:39 AM

All replies

  • Has there been an answer to this yet please? I also get exact similar problem, even if following both recommended guidelines below to the letter. 

    ( and


    "Rules in Error" "Cannot reply to message. 

    Thank you.

    Friday, January 07, 2011 9:31 AM
  • Hi

    Are you following the instructions from your first post, exactly?

    Are you confusing the Rules button on the Home Tab with the Rules button in the dialog displayed when you click Automatic Replies (Out of Office) on the File Tab?  You need to use the one on the Home tab.

    I hope your aware that the rule will only operate whilst your Outlook is running.  You will have to manually switch the rule on and off (unless your clever with the excepttions part of the rule), and leave your PC switched on with Outlook running 24/7 to acheive a true Out of Office.

    The information in the second link of your second post is not relevant to you as your not connected to Exchange.

    Hope this helps

    G North MMI
    Friday, January 07, 2011 10:01 AM
  • Hi G

    I followed both guidelines and below is my rule criteria.

    Note it is not connected to Exchange, hence there is no Out of Office option anywhere. Normal POP accounts only, and yes, it will only operate when Outlook is running, hence the Outlook error provided, "Rules in Error, Cannot reply to message". This error you only see whhen opening Outlook and receiving the mail to automatically respond. The guidelines provided above provide alternative auto response when you receive an e-mail (from a certain person, or from anybody), and want to utilise the rules because you don't have Exchange for 'out of office', then it replies using an Outlook created Plain Text template, of course only when Outlook is running. When you close Outlook and open it, it gives the error, and does not do anything with the e-mail received. Because it shows the error, I at least know it is picking up the source of the e-mail, however there is a problem with the template response.

    The rule I set up for testing was as follows:

    Apply this rule when messages arrive

    sent only to me (tried with and without this)

    from (test e-mail address)

    and sent to or (both accounts on my Outlook, tried only one also)

    reply using c:\documents and settings\willie.SOFTYCOMP\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\6JANTEST.oft (created plain text template with word 'test' in subject and body).

    Friday, January 07, 2011 12:14 PM
  • O yes, please note I am not the same person to the person who started this thread, but I do get a similar error.





    Friday, January 07, 2011 12:16 PM
  • Hi

    I apologise.

    I have installed Outlook on my home PC and like you find the instructions seem to be missing something.  With only a POP3 account added the rule producees and error when it first runs and then switches itself off (with error indicated next to it).

    It did seem to try to do something as there is a unsent mail in the Outbox. Watching the Send/Recieve process it appears that Outlook first send messages then receives them.  I can't think this would we any use as the mail generated would not get sent until the next send/receive.  Eiter way there's no address in the generated message so it would never send anyway.


    G North MMI
    Friday, January 07, 2011 7:09 PM
  • Thanks G. At least you tried.


    I hope somebody out there has the answer as Microsoft are not willing to help, unless you pay them for support. How's that for business integrity.


    Thanks anyways.



    Monday, January 10, 2011 6:45 AM
  • Hey G (or anybody)


    Any advice on how I could get Microsoft to look into this? I have searched everywhere and it generally appears that Microsoft does not really bother about this problem, if I check general feedback on internet.






    Monday, January 10, 2011 12:38 PM
  • Wille:

    I also have exactly the same problem in Outlook 2010:

    I use a pop e-mail account.  I set up a rule named "change of address": Apply this rule after the message arrives through the account and on this computer only reply using c:\users\....\templates\Change of address.oft.

    I followed exactly:

    When a message arrives, the message does not get replied to and I get the error message "rules in error   -   cannot reply to message".

    The rule is then automatically turned off and rule says "change of address (error)" in the rules and alerts dialog box.

    I do not use exchange server.

    Note that I had the exact same unsolved problem in Outlook 2007.

    Seems to be one of those bugs that is not a priority for Microsoft to adrress.


    Stu Axelrod


    Thursday, January 13, 2011 3:07 AM
  • Here's the fix!!!!

    Worked like a charm!!!



    • Proposed as answer by Stu Axelrod Thursday, January 13, 2011 3:30 AM
    Thursday, January 13, 2011 3:27 AM
  • Hi

    Strangely enough thats the same fix I tried.  It's OK until you turn you Outlook off.  Then you have to go through and manually run the rule again to get it working again.

    G North MMI
    Thursday, January 13, 2011 9:27 AM
  • Further reinforcement on switching to a web based email system. I'm in the process of switching to Gmail and of course letting my clients know via Outlook has been impossible. Thanks for nothing Microsoft.
    Monday, December 12, 2011 7:58 AM