outlook out of officeWe would like to introduce you to the latest Digitalquill product: The Outlook Out of Office Add-on. The product is in the final stages of testing and almost ready for release.

Outlook Vacation Auto-Responder

The problem with Outlook is that it is designed from the ground up to work with Microsoft Exchange server. Microsoft, as often happens, chose not to follow the agreed standards for mail servers and instead came up with their own methods – to encourage sales of their own proprietary product. Whilst their Microsoft Exchange Server is an excellent product, it is very expensive and therefore out of the reach of many small companies. Although Outlook can be configured to work with other servers – using Pop3 and IMAP account settings – it does not integrate fully with those servers.

IMAP Server and Outlook Out of Office Solution

A standard Mail server build using Courier, Cyrus or Dovecot, with a postfix as a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) can be built, and Outlook can access the mailboxes using IMAP. Under this arrangement, mail can be sent or received without any problems. However, when the user comes to take a holiday and they try to use the usual vacation alert settings in Outlook, this does not work.

The reason the out of office auto-responder does not work is because Outlook is designed to integrate with Microsoft Exchange Server. As a workaround, you have to contact your system admin or IT Support team to ask for a vacation auto-responder notice to be put onto their account. Sometimes they may be provided with a Webmail client, such as Roundcube, through which they must log-on and then set the out-of-office response separately.

Out of Office Settings in Microsoft Outlook

Another solution is to create a rule in Outlook to respond to all incoming emails. This does work but it also means that you must leave your computer running with Outlook open while you are away. Outlook rules are actioned at the client and not the server.

This can all be very frustrating for both users and system admins as this functionality exists in Postfix.

Why Not Change Email Client?

Changing to another email client such as Thunderbird is usually not an option as users are often familiar with Outlook and want to keep that client. We looked at this and thought it was a shame that the most commonly used email client and one of the most common email server configurations (Postfix with Dovecot, Courier or Cyrus) do not talk to each other

Digitalquill Out of Office Addon.

We therefore set about developing an add-on to Outlook at allows users to set their out of office replies themselves – right from outlook itself. The add-on has been designed to be simple and easy to use: you set it up once and then just change the message that you want to be sent.

A simple tick box activates and deactivate the auto-responder. The add-on controls server side rules on the IMAP server (using Sieve extension for Courier, Dovecot or Cyrus) meaning that your computer can be turned off while you go on vacation.

The add-on is currently in the final stages of testing and will be released next month.  Works with Outlook 2007 onward.


Our new out of office Outlook plugin is coming soon. If you are interested in the new Outlook vacation responder then call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information.