I subscribe to mailing lists, and have rules that route them to folders under my inbox.

Will setting up an out-of-office auto-reply send a message to the public list for every incoming message?

  • If you want to know for sure, just try it using a separate accound and public list. – Tom Wijsman Sep 30 '12 at 23:02

If we are talking about the kind of mailing lists where you send a mail to a a mailing list server and the software resends the mail to all recipients:

RFC 3834 defines a mail header line that tells your mail server (Exchange) that it should not send an out-of-office mail. The mailing list server should add it to mails that it resends:

Auto-submitted: auto-generated

This header line is defined in RFC 3834. Just check whether this line is in the mails that you get from the mailing list.

RFC 3834 obsoletes another, older, non-standard, widely used header line:

Precedence: bulk

Microsoft Exchange Server knows about an additional, non-standard header line:

X-Auto-Response-Suppress: 00F

See https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee219609(v=exchg.80).aspx for documentation.

A fourth way to handle the problem is to use an empty bounce address. In order to do this, use the following header line:

Sender: <>

Sometimes, author and sender are not the same (remailers?). From should be the author. Sender is the contact address of the sender and thereby the one that you should contact in case of delivery issues (i.e. vacation etc.) (see https://stackoverflow.com/a/4367471/601203). <> seems to be some kind of null value for mail addresses.

Setting the Sender seems to work quite reliably.

One more thing: Many mail server know they should not reply to mailing lists (?). Thus, if a mailing list uses the proper header, that's sufficient for avoiding vacation mails:

List-Id: Knitting Mailing List <knitting.example.com>
  • Do you have any evidence that Exchange honors this header? All I can find says that it only honors the older Precedence: and its private X-Auto-Response-Suppress:. – ivan_pozdeev Apr 18 '16 at 21:44
  • 1
    @ivan_pozdeev According to technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/…, Exchange 2010 conforms to RFC 3834. – hagello Apr 20 '16 at 11:19

Yes, it will. Automatic Replies (Out of Office) are sent to the sender of the incoming email and regardless the source of incoming email.

To avoid it, you need to setup a rule to exclude those addresses.


To avoid haveing an out of office response sent to outside of your organization senders, when setting the OOO Open the tab tilted "Outside My Oranization", make sure the "Auto-reply to people outside my organization is not checked. An additional option on this tab is to have responses sent to "My contacts only"

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