Use Rules to Delete Out of Office Replies

I use iContact to collect email addresses of subscribers to my private email list. One of the reasons I chose this technology is the ability to set up autoresponders that send emails to new subscribers at various intervals (a computer tip a week for four weeks).

When I set up the autoresponders, I used my main email address as part of the process. iContact handles all bouncebacks/undeliverables and automatically deletes them from my list. But the Out of Office replies came into my Inbox.

In my efforts to keep my Inbox lean, mean, and to one screen, I had to make some adjustments.

Problem: Every time an autoresponder was sent, I could easily receive 100 Out of Office messages piling up in my Inbox.

Solution: Set up a special email account for autoresponders only. Then create an Outlook rule to recognize the messages coming from this account and then permanently delete them if they are Out of Office responses.

Here’s what I did.

    1. Created a new email account with my ISP and in Outlook to only use with the autoresponders sent via iContact.
    2. Set Outlook up to not download email from this address when checking my other accounts. This way I decide when the messages come in (I might be traveling and on dial-up and don’t want the hundreds of Out of Office messages clogging the system).

To set this up, from the Inbox view, click Tools, Send/Receive, Send/Receive Settings, Define Send/Receive Groups, Edit All Accounts. Under Accounts, click the one to turn off, then untick the Include the selected account in this group box, OK, Close.

  1. Created a rule that permanently deletes all email coming to this special email account with the text, Out of Office or Out of the Office or On Vacation, in the body of the email.

Later, I’ll check this special account manually (click Tools, Send/Receive, point to the special account, Inbox). All email for this account is then downloaded from the server and zapped. If it’s a reply (usually praise for the tip) from a subscriber and not an Out of Office response, it’ll land in my Inbox. Works great!

To learn more about Outlook rules and managing email, it’s all in my book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook, or sign up for my training. See my training Website for details.


PPeggy Duncan, personal productivity expert

Email Entire Contents of a Folder

Have you ever needed to email the entire contents of a computer folder? It’s easy with Windows XP or above.
  1. Right-click the Start button, click Explore. Find the folder you want to email.
  2. Right-click the folder, Send To, Compressed (zipped) folder. All of the folder’s contents will be compressed into a single file (don’t worry, when it’s unzipped, everything will be as individual files).
  3. Click Yes to designate Compressed (zipped) Folders as the application you want to handle these types of files. The folder that I zipped was a subfolder and the new .zip file ended up as the last file in the main folder. It will have the same name but with a .zip extension.
  4. Email this folder as you normally would. Either from where you are now (right-click the .zip folder, Send To, Mail Recipient), or later as an attached file. When I’ve done this, the recipient has had to first save the .zip file out on their Desktop to open. They were not able to open it inside the email message (if you have better luck, let me know).

Note: If it’s a large file and too big to send via email, use a free service such as You’ll upload your file onto their server, and your recipient can download it. They also have a paid service, YouSendIt Express, that allows you to send entire folders,


Let's Not Take It Anymore!

“You called me. We met for lunch but your attention is somewhere else. Thumbing and talking on your cell phone. Oh noooooo buddy. I didn’t take time out from my business, get out of my pajamas, drive to this restaurant wasting my gas and adding wear and tear on my car just to sit here and watch you conduct your business. My cell phone is off. You have my undivided attention…”

Does this sound familiar? Let’s not take it anymore!

Say: “If you even glance at that X?!! BlackBerry one more time I’m leaving!”