Q. Can I set up a vacation bounce message in Gmail? If so, do those replies go to everyone, including spammers looking for live addresses?
A. Gmail, along with other free mail services like Outlook.com, allows you to set up an automatic reply to new messages that hit your inbox when you’d like to unplug for an extended period. And if you don’t want the message to bounce back to everyone who sends you mail, you can limit who can receive your automated reply.
To set up a vacation response message in the desktop version of Gmail, click the gear-shaped icon in the upper-right corner of the browser window and choose Settings from the menu. On the General tab of the Settings page, scroll down the page to the Vacation Responder section.
Click the button next to “Vacation responder on” and fill in the dates you’d like the automatic reply to be active. Fill in the Subject line and the body of the message explaining that you are away and will not be answering your mail. Below the message body, click the box next to “Only send a response to people in my Contacts” to prevent the message from going out to anybody who is not in your Google address book.
If you do not use the web version, you can set up the automatic reply in the Gmail mobile app for Android and iOS. Tap the Menu button in the upper-left corner and scroll down to Settings. Tap the name of your account, and, on the next screen, tap Vacation Responder.
On the Vacation Responder screen, tap the button to the On position. Fill in the dates for the automatic-reply period and the message you want to use, and then tap the button next to “Send only to my Contacts.”
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