If you have a corporate email account at work, the chances are you'll also have some kind of setting that enables you to tell people when you're on holiday or out on the office on business. But what if you don't? Or just want to set up an email auto reply on your Mac at home?

If you're using Mail, you may be surprised to learn that there are no settings or preferences that can enable you to setup an auto-reply like you would on a corporate email system. And there are no preferences for it on iCloud either (hint hint, Apple). The only thing you can do to get around this problem is to setup an Auto Reply rule in Mail. And that's what we're going to show you how to do.

Read next: How to set up an iPhone | How to set up an iPad | How to set up a Mac | How to set up an Apple TV | How to set up an Apple Watch

Step 1: Open Mail Preferences

Open Mail and choose Mail > Preferences from the top menu bar or type 'CMD,' then select Rules from the toolbar (it's on the far right).

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Step 2: Add a rule

You should now see a list or Rules with buttons on the right site that enables you to add, edit, duplicate and remove them. By default you should have a News From Apple rule setup already. Click the Add Rule button.

You should now see a drop-down sheet that enables you to create a rule that you can apply to your incoming and outgoing emails in Mail. You can create and apply as many different rules as you like, but here we're going to setup an Auto Reply.

Step 3: Name your rule

The first thing to do here is to create a unique Rule name and add it in the Description field. You can call the rule anything you like, but it makes sense to call either something general like 'Auto Reply' - so you can use the same rule again and again -- or name it something specific if it's a one off.

Step 4: Set your rule conditions

Now we're going to decide who our Auto Reply rule is going to apply to. This could be everyone that emails you while you're away or you can break the rule down into specific groups of people.

You could send up one Rule for friends and family and another Rule for work colleagues, for example, or even set up different rules for different email accounts. It's up to you.

For this tutorial we're going to keep it simple.

So underneath where it says “If any of the following conditions are met”.

Change “any recipient” to “To”.

Leave “contains” as it is.

And then add your email address to the empty box to the right.

Under “Perform the following actions”

Click “Move Message” and choose “Reply to Message” from the drop-down menu that appears.

Then click on Reply message text...

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Step 5: Add your Auto-reply

A pop-up window will now appear which enables to write your out of office message. When you're happy with the result, click “OK” and the pop-up window will now disappear.

Step 6: Activate your Auto Reply rule

If you're ready to make the Rule live, now's the time to make it happen. Click “OK” again on the Rules window. A drop-down sheet will appear asking if you want to apply your rules to messages in selected mailboxes. Make sure you click “Don't apply” otherwise Mail will try to reply to every email you've ever received. And you don't want that to happen!.

You Auto Reply / out of office rule is now live. You can see whether it works by sending a test email to yourself.

Find out how Mail on iOS compares to Outlook on iOS here.

Step 7: Turn it off

When you come back from your holiday or whatever, make sure you remember to switch off your Auto Reply otherwise people will think you're still away.

To do that, simply go to Mail > Preferences > Rules again and uncheck the Auto-reply rule you created previously.

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