There has been a long-lacking feature in Outlook – the ability to automatically set your Out of Office message to turn on and off on a scheduled basis.
It would be great to be able to have a bounce back on anything sent outside your working hours, but it isn’t easily possible natively unless you use a vbs script inside an Outlook rule – requiring Outlook to actually be running.
I decided to come up with my own solution. This isn’t good for individuals, but is good for centralised mailboxes, say an IT Helpdesk mailbox that you want people to know when someone will look at their request or not.
Step 1 – Set the Out Of Office message you want on your mailbox manually. Outlook, OWA, however you do it, it doesn’t matter. Your message will be saved on the server.
Step 2 – Save the script below as a .ps1, and change the variables to what you want. I have two scripts, one that enables, and the other that disables Out of Office
Step 3 – Create two Scheduled Task on a server. One will be when you want the Out of Office on, and the other when you want it off. Below I’ve created one for the ‘on’ part, which triggers weekly on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7:30am. The Off would do the same, but at 5pm.
The conditions of the Scheduled Tasks would be to run the powershell script files, again matching up the on and offs. The command to use is “powershell.exe” and the arguments pointing to the location of your newly created ps1 scripts in the format ” -file “C:\scripts\admin\Out Of Office On.ps1” “
The task needs to be set to ‘Run whether user it logged on or not’.
The account used to run the task needs to have the correct role based permissions to connect to Exchange, and make changes to the auto reply config.
The script will also generate an email to advise that the status of Out Of Office has been changed, pulling the value afterwards so you can check that it’s toggled correctly.
If the script doesn’t run automatically, you may need to adjust your Execution Policy settings.
That’s it. You should have two scheduled tasks that run to turn Out of Office off and on against the mailbox you want.
#TODO – Definie Mailbox name and state enabled or disabled
$mailbox = “name”
$state = “enabled”
$exchangeserver = “exchange server name”
#Connect To Exchange PowerShell Session
$session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri http://$exchangeserver/Powershell -Authentication Kerberos
#Turn Out Of Office On
Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration $mailbox -AutoReplyState $state
$results = Get-mailboxautoreplyconfiguration $mailbox |select Autoreplystate
#Emails the current status
send-mailmessage -to “Displayname 1 <email@example.com>” -from “Displayname 2 <firstname.lastname@example.org>” -subject “IT Help OOO Status” -body “The OutOf Office Message is now $results” -SmtpServer smtp.yourserver.com.au
Remove-PSSession -Session $session
Update 15th March 2016
I’ve also realised that Softera Adaxes which I reviewed previously, can do the above quite easily. Here’s how their scheduled tasks work, but simply put you can create a scheduled task to run on weekdays, that sets the Out of Office message and turns it on today, then off today +1 day (i.e. tomorrow), and run that daily to update the date! That’s a more elegant solution, but you need to buy Adaxes or already have it. I’m still using it and recommend it, and decided to do the above this cleaner way. This isn’t a sponsored comment :)