Auto-response Service

IMSS offers an automated reply service for when you will be away from your email and want your correspondents to know that you will not be responding to them right away. Sometimes this is called a vacation autoresponder.

We now have an easy-to-use web interface which you can use to set up your autoreply yourself, as well as for setting the date and time it activates and the date and time it deactivates.

To set up your autoreply:

1. Log into https://utils.its.caltech.edu/ with your access.caltech username and password.

2. Select "Change email settings (forward, vacation, etc.)"

3. In the "Automatic Reply" section, change the "Enable automatic reply system?" from No to Yes.

4. The "Start automatic replies" setting allows you to activate the autoreply immediately ("Now") or to set a specific time and date for activation.

  • Note that if you are setting up your autoreply before you actually leave, you should set "Enable automatic reply system?" to Yes and set the "Start automatic replies" time to the time and date in the future when you will actually leave. Autoreplies will not be sent until that time and date. We recommend setting up your autoreply ahead of time, because of course right before you leave, you will have a lot of other things to think about!
  • If, however, you are setting up your autoreply immediately before you head out of the door to leave, set "Enable automatic reply system?" to Yes and the "Start automatic replies" field to "Now".

5. The "End automatic replies" setting allows you to set the time and date when you want the autoreply to deactivate. If you do not know when you will be returning to access your email, select "Never" and when you get back, remember to deactivate the autoresponder (instructions are below).

6. In the "Autoreply message:" section, you may customize the automatic message which will go out in response to inbound email to you. You may choose to simply leave it at the defaults.

  • The "From:" field is useful for people who use aliases rather than their IMSS username as their preferred email address (for instance, aliases of the form firstname.lastname@caltech.edu).
  • The "Subject:" field is the subject line of the autoreply message. Some users prefer to use the default subject, others customize it, for instance, "Away from my email until August 25".
  • The "Message Body:" field is the actual message which will go out as your autoreply. You can use the variable string $SUBJECT in the message body and it will be automatically replaced with the subject line of the message which the autoreply is replying to... for instance, if you are away, and your correspondent mails you with the subject line "Important Grant Info", if your Message Body is set to say:
    		I am currently away and unable to read my email.
    I will respond to your message about "$SUBJECT" when I return.
  • Then the autoreply message which your correspondent would get would say:
    		I am currently away and unable to read my email.
    I will respond to your message about "Important Grant Info" when I return.
  • The "Autoreply to messages tagged as spam?" field refers to messages with the IMSS Spam Flagging Service spam header. We recommend that you leave this setting to No, because any reply to spam causes the spammer to identify your email address as a viable address and they will continue to try to send email to it.
  • The "Time delay between autoreplies to same sender?" field controls how often someone who emails you multiple times while you are away will get your autoreply. The time delay should be a whole number followed by a letter to indicate seconds, minutes, hours, days, or weeks. For no time delay, which means that every (non-spam-flagged) message to you from every person to email you would generate an autoreply, enter "0".
  • If you have an alias or aliases associated with your access.caltech account, you will want to be sure that the "Autoreply only to mail sent to specific addresses?" field is set to Yes. Then select the aliases which you want to generate autoreplies in the section labeled"If "yes" for the previous question, check and/or list addresses that will trigger a reply when you receive mail at them:" and add any of your additional addresses, one per line, in the box.

7. Be sure to Submit Changes, or the autoresponder will not activate as you expect it to!

8. Log out of https://utils.its.caltech.edu/

To deactivate the autoreply when you return, if you did not set a specific deactivation time and date:

9. Log into https://utils.its.caltech.edu/ with your access.caltech username and password.

10. Select "Change email settings (forward, vacation, etc.).

11. In the "Automatic Reply" section, change the "Enable automatic reply system?" from No to Yes.

12. Log out of https://utils.its.caltech.edu/

Note that changing the "Enable automatic reply system?" field to Yes or No does not clear the rest of the fields, but does control the autoresponder like an On/Off switch. This allows you to leave the text of your personalized autoresponse message stored even if it is not actually going out to your correspondents in automatic responses, and makes the job of setting up your autoreply the next time you go out of town a bit faster and easier.

If you have any questions about the autoreply system, please contact unix-admins@caltech.edu or call x3500 for assistance.