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How to Create an Auto Reply Message in macOS Mail

Do you find yourself typing the same ol’ replies when using Mail in macOS? Not necessary, my friend. You can set up macOS Mail to respond automatically to incoming messages with a text you have pre-composed. It works well for an Out-of-Office Vacation message, but with Mac Mail’s extensive set of rules, you can auto-reply to just about anything, with anything.

Here’s how to set up an auto-response message in Mail:

Click to add a new rule in Mail Preferences
Click to add a new rule in Mail Preferences
  1. Launch Mail on your Mac, then open Mail > Preferences.
  2. In the Preferences pane, click Rules, then select Add Rule.
  3. The following box will pop up:


Provide description, criteria, and actions for new rule.
Provide description, criteria, and actions for the new rule.


  • Enter a Description for the new rule, such as “Gone to run” in the first line.

If [any/all] of the following conditions are met:

  • A series of drop-down options will appear. Select “any” of the following conditions that are to be met in the second line.


  • In the third line, select an option in the drop-down list. You can choose from a variety of options such as the person whom the message is “From” to “Every Message.”


  • In the fourth line, select from options:
    • contains
    • does not contain
    • begins with
    • ends with
    • equal to
  • Next to this dropdown, enter the email address you wish the rule to apply to.

Perform the following actions:

  • Where you see Perform the following actions, select Reply to Message from the drop-down menu.
  • A new item, Reply Message Text, will show up. Tap this, then create your auto-respond message. Click OK when you’re done.
Whatever text you enter will be sent to the person who emailed you.
The text you enter will be sent to the person who emailed you.

Turn On Your Autoresponder

  • Open Mail > Preferences > Rules and check the box next to your newly-created autoresponder message to activate it.

Turn Off Your Autoresponse

  • Select Mail > Preferences.
  • Go to the Rules category.
  • Make sure the rule corresponding to the autoresponse you want to disable is NOT checked in the Active column.
  • Close the Rules preferences window.

Delete Your Autoreply

  • To delete any rules, go to Mail > Preferences > Rules
  • Select the autoreply or other rule you’d like to delete and click “Remove.”
Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Contributing Author
Dennis has over 40 years of journalism experience and has written hundreds of articles. For the past 20-plus years, he's been an online journalist, covering mainly Apple Inc. He's written for MacCentral, MacWorld, MacMinute, Macsimum News, Apple Daily Report, and is now contributing editor at Apple World Today.
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  • After I followed this instruction, my mail box also started sending out-of-offices as a mad printer.

  • when I follow these instructions, the automatic reply sends over 10 responses, until I de- activate the box. any suggestions?

  • Hi Dennis,

    Thanks for your article. Is it possible to view the autoreplies running from a rule in sent items at all?

  • Is it easty to have an “auto-forward” set up?

    Reason for this would be — having an email address with lttle traffic that is best kept separate from main mailbox — but don’t wish to miss the occassional message. An “auto-forward” to one’s main mailbox would provide an easy alert, when a message does come in, while retaining all emaail for that one account separately.