Friday, May 20, 2016

Improved “Automatic Reply” options in OWA

You might have noticed that since last April Microsoft has added a few new (great!) options to the Automatic Replies feature in Outlook on the Web:

These options make it easier to clear our calendar and automatically decline meetings before we head out for some time away from the office. When we set an automatic reply in Outlook on the web, Outlook offers to do the following on our behalf:
1. Block our calendar so people know we are away;
2. Clear existing meetings on our calendar by declining/cancelling them;
3. Automatically send a response to incoming invitations while we are away.

Block my calendar for this period
This option will create an appointment for the duration of our automatic reply with the title we specify:

Automatically decline new invitation for events that occur during this period
Outlook is now able to automatically decline a new invitation on our behalf while we are away! With this option, users will immediately know we will not be attending a meeting that gets scheduled while we are away. After responding on our behalf, Outlook will leave the invitation in our inbox so we know what happened while we were gone.

Decline and cancel my meetings during this period
That last option is to decline and cancel events currently in our calendar. When we now set an automatic reply, Outlook on the web finds all events that occur while we are away and gives us the option to indicate which meetings we would like to cancel or decline, as well as give you reply options to include.

First we select a reply to use when cancelling these meetings:

And then we can select which meetings we actually want to cancel:

Outlook on the web selects all meetings with attendees by default, leaving events without any attendees unchecked (as these are normally reminders or notes users create for themselves). If there is a meeting we don’t want to cancel, we simply uncheck it from the list and Outlook on the web will leave the event in our calendar.

How cool are these new options?! No more manually blocking our calendar and rejecting meetings one by one! Now I just hope this will come to Exchange on-prem soon, but it won’t surprise me if it takes a few good months...


  1. Just found your it..lots of good information. This post, is it referring to Exchange 2016? I do not see any of the calendar settings for OWA in our Exchange 2013 environment.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thank you for the kind words! SOrry, maybe I should have been more clear from the start... This is only for Exchange Online unfortunately. As you can see from the last paragraph, I do hope MS brings these updates on-prem.