For Outlook 2007, I got a pop-up message with a title 'Rules in Error' indicating simply 'Cannot Reply to Message'... which was not helpful. My Outlook 2007 is up-to-date, and a Google search (example) of the error led me to believe this is actually a bug in Outlook 2007.
The rule I set up is very basic and always replies with the same template (screenshot), yet I received the error message (screenshot). Contrary to (seemingly) popular opinion, there are ways to resolve this. I have found two things to make Outlook 2007 POP3 out-of-office work.
- Update to Office 2007 SP2 and use a plain-text Outlook template.
- Process the rule once manually and leave Outlook running.
If you read Microsoft's directions carefully, it tells you to use a Plain Text template in Outlook 2007, but it does not specify plain text template for previous versions. I made a plain text template and my out-of-office rule worked just fine.
I am running Outlook 2007 SP2, but on a computer with Outlook 2007 SP1 the out-of-office rule did not work (plain-text or not). I used option #2 (see below), but later updated to Office SP2 (available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=b444bf18-79ea-46c6-8a81-9db49b4ab6e5&displaylang=en) and used the plain text template.
So, that's one way... what's the other?
Option 2: Process the rule manually once
Thanks to this post at Lockergnome, there is another workaround. After you set up an email rule and it generates the error, the rule is disabled. The rule itself seems valid, and you can run it manually. So, restart Outlook and re-enable the rule, and run the rule once manually and apply it to your existing messages before another email is received. Voila, it works!
- Set up the out-of-office rule
- Close Outlook 2007
- Start Outlook 2007 and click on Tools > Rules and Alerts and turn on your rule
- Still in Rules and Alerts, click on 'Run Rules Now...' and select your out-of-office rule and click on Run Now
- Close the Rules and Alerts and leave Outlook 2007 running
Pros and Cons
Option 2 has the advantage of working with graphical templates and does not require updating to SP2. However, it stops working if Outlook 2007 is restarted - you'll have to run the rule manually again.
Option 1 has the advantage of being more 'reliable' -- you start Outlook 2007 and it keeps working. However, it is plain text and it may require a sizable update.
If you don't mind updating to Office 2007 SP2, you can create a plain-text Outlook template and use it with your out-of-office rule. If you object to either plain-text replies or to installing SP2, you can run the rule manually once and it should keep running.