If you’ve ever taken a vacation, only to return to a massive number of emails — some of which demanding to know why you haven’t responded — you’re not alone. Conversely, if you’ve ever wanted to take a vacation and not need to open up Gmail in the first place, you aren’t alone there either. Fortunately, there actually is a solution to both issues and plenty of others, built right into Gmail.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to set up Gmail to automatically respond to inform people that you’re on vacation. So if that sounds like something you need to do, read on.
Here’s how you can set up vacation auto-responses in Gmail for desktop
There are two places where you can set up vacation responses in Gmail. In this first segment, we’ll be covering how that’s accomplished on desktop platforms. Or in a mobile browser that’s been set to desktop mode. As is often the case with our browser-based how-to guides.
- Start by opening your favorite browser — we’re using Google Chrome in our example images — and navigating to Gmail.com
- Once Gmail loads, select the cog-shaped Settings icon at the top right-hand side of the page
- Gmail will load up a series of Quick settings. Select the option just below the header, which reads “See all settings”
- In Gmail Settings, the first page that loads will be the “General” tab. Scroll down the page to the segment of this Gmail menu that’s labeled “Vacation responder”
- Under the “Vacation responder” settings, you’ll first need to turn those on for Gmail by selecting the radial dial button next to the “Vacation responder on” option
- Next, select a start and end date — Gmail calls this the “Last day” — for your vacation. These are the dates that the auto-responses to emails that you receive in Gmail, while on vacation, will work for. So select the dates that work best for that purpose
- In the following field, type in a subject line for your response. We’ve simply entered “Test” in our example images. But something like “RE: Out of the office” or something similar would be more appropriate
- In the next field, enter a message that users will see within the response. Effectively, this is the email message that will be sent to recipients
- Finally, it’s a good practice to ensure that these emails are only sent to people in your Contacts. If you receive a lot of emails from partners and professionals outside of your contacts list, you may want to leave the associated box unchecked. That way, even new contacts will see the vacation auto-responses in Gmail. But we’ve checked it in our sample images since those we frequently interact with are generally added to our contacts list
- Select the “Save Changes” button and the auto-responses should start at the selected date
…you can do this from your phone or tablet too
If you don’t typically use your computer, laptop, or other desktop Chrome instance to check email, vacation auto-responses can also be set up via Android or other mobile OS — and this segment will cover how to accomplish that. It is worth noting, of course, that some options that work in Android won’t necessarily work the same way on iOS. But, otherwise, most of the steps should be the same.
Similarly, it’s also worth noting this can be set up in the mobile browser in desktop mode. Specifically, by following the steps laid out above. But we’ll be using the dedicated Gmail app for Android in the example images below.
- Open up your Gmail app on your mobile device or tablet
- Select the three-dash icon at the top left-hand side of the UI
- Scroll past your custom email labels and Google apps to select “Settings”
- In the Settings menu, select the option that shows your email. That will be your Gmail username followed by “@gmail.com” or similar. You can set up vacation responses in Gmail for any individual account synced to your device and app
- Scroll nearly to the bottom of the subsequent page to the option that reads “Vacation responder” and select that option
- In the resulting menu, use the toggle switch at the top right-hand side to turn “Vacation responder” on
- Next, just as in the desktop website above, select the start and end date for your vacation responses to be sent automatically by Gmail
- Then, enter a subject for the response email and a message
- Finally, choose whether the message will be sent in response to all emails or just to those who are in your Contacts. Filtering here, as with on the desktop platform, is a best practice. That is unless you typically receive a lot of important emails from outside of your contacts list. If needs be, you can always add any users who aren’t in your contacts in advance
- Tap on “Done” to finalize the setup process