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A Vacation Auto-Reply Script for Mail Apps
I finally found a way to do good vacation auto-replies with Mail. This hint is for those folks who can't set up vacation replies on their mail servers and have to rely on their email client.

I was frustrated by the fact that Mail would reply every time I received a message. I wanted a solution that would reply only once to each person. I found this script on MacScripter.com, and it's so simple that I'm surprised I hadn't seen it before. Basically, it adds the sender to a group called Vacation, and you set up a rule to only reply to people who are not in the Vacation group. So once the person gets a first vacation message, they won't get any others.

[kirkmc adds: My first thought was this: do people really leave their Macs on when they are on vacation, just to send auto-reply messages telling people they are on vacation. Then, chatting with Rob (in between his morning massage and the drink-with-the-little-umbrella, he said he never turns off his Internet connection, and always leaves at least one Mac on when on vacation. I thought how much power that wastes... Hence this poll.]
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Is the Pope a Catholic?
Authored by: gm80 on Oct 04, '07 08:08:51AM

OK, so I read that title as "A Vatican Auto-Reply Script for Mail" and wondered why that would be significantly different than any other auto-reply script for Mail.

In more relevant commentary, I leave my Mac on 24/7 as well. Part of it is out of sheer glee at not having to reboot on a regular basis, part of it is due to the fact that I share storage and printers from my desktop around the house through our wireless network which would be unavailable if it were shut off (or even asleep).

In the end, I even leave it on when I'm on vacation ... because I'm in the habit and I don't even think about it until I'm gone (if ever).



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A Vacation Auto-Reply Script for Mail
Authored by: michelle_eris on Oct 04, '07 09:01:22AM

I'm the author of that script. When I'm on vacation, I program the Mac to turn on at 2 am and turn off at 6 am; during that period, it polls for email once an hour (and of course, runs the vacation mail script when necessary), and also does the regularly scheduled daily, weekly, and monthly jobs at 3 am, and backs up the computer at 5 am.

BTW, I thought that I had submitted that script here as well as to MacScripters after I wrote it in 2005.



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Hmmm, good idea, but ...
Authored by: tice on Oct 04, '07 11:36:57AM

... welcome spammers. This is the perfect proof for mail addresses. And well, I turn off my PowerBook - and take it with me ;-) - when I'm on vacation ...

Anyway, good to know how this works.



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RTFM
Authored by: germ on Oct 04, '07 09:28:21PM

If you had bothered to read the documentation that comes with the script, you would have seen that you can setup your rule to send a reply only if, for example, the sender is in your address book.



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Vacation Auto-Reply Considered Harmful
Authored by: Chas on Oct 04, '07 11:42:30AM

I beg of you, please do not use Vacation auto-replies if you are subscribed to mailing lists. I have seen dozens of minor wars break out over autoreplies on listservs. If you do not unsubscribe to a listserv before setting up an autoresponder, you will deluge the list with autoreplies. You will end up booted from the listserv, or for lists without strong authorities who eject violators, you will just end up as the most hated user on the listserv.



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Vacation Auto-Reply Considered Harmful
Authored by: n1mie on Oct 04, '07 02:58:02PM

Good point. It would certainly be possible to modify the script to detect and not reply to messages related to lists to which you are subscribed.

I have three Macs (iMac + 2 minis) which are on (not asleep) all the time. But my MBP is my main machine. It is asleep when I'm not using it. And it goes with me on vacation when I go, so there is no need for a vacation deflector.

---
--Chip



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RTFM
Authored by: germ on Oct 04, '07 09:24:03PM

If you had bothered to read the documentation that comes with the script, you would have seen that there is an easy way to avoid this.



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Very bad idea
Authored by: dan55304 on Oct 05, '07 07:00:55AM

There are three major problems with vacation auto replies:
* Security. Let's announce to the world your away.
* User group mailing lists. Auto replies get you auto unsubscribed to most lists I am a member of. You list will be on vacation too and you'll miss all messages while your gone.
* They are just plain annoying. I don't care that your out of the office or on vacation and I doubt the rest of the world does either. Why should my mailbox fill up with this auto spam?



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A Vacation Auto-Reply Script for Mail
Authored by: michelle_eris on Oct 05, '07 11:34:30AM

To those who remarked about spammers and mailing lists, please read the instructions with the script; the vacation mail message will be sent only to those addresses that are in your address book, and will never reply to mailing lists:

Create an Address Book group named "Vacation"
Set up a rule (name it "vacation") with the following characteristics:

If Sender is not a member of group "vacation"
If Sender is in the Address Book
Perform the following actions:
Reply to message
Run Applescript /Library/Scripts/Mail Scripts/Rule Actions/Vacation script.scpt

Make sure this rule is after all the rules that operate on mailing lists (and that the last of them has "stop evaluating rules" as its last item--other rules can also have this action, but the last one must have it) so that it will not send vacation mail in response to mail sent to mailing lists.



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A Vacation Auto-Reply Script for Mail
Authored by: osxpounder on Oct 08, '07 03:37:29PM

I thought "Stop evaluating Rules" would make it, well, stop evaluating rules.

So what does it really do? The whole idea of a rule that says "Stop evaluating rules" puzzles me. What happens after that? I assumed it would wait til next mail check, then start from the top of the rules list again. What's the point? What does it do?



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A Vacation Auto-Reply Script for Mail
Authored by: osxpounder on Oct 09, '07 11:46:27AM

I see, from Mail's Help, that "Mail stops applying rules to a message when the message is transferred to another mailbox, or if the Stop Evaluating Rules action is specified."

Hmm, I just tested that, and it's not true, so I have to wonder if Stop Evaluating Rules works. I tested by having a rule notice email from a certain address. The first action was: move it to a certain mailbox. The next action was: change the color of the message. Since Help claims the Rule stops evaluating when the message is moved, the color shouldn't have changed... but it did change.

Next, I tested by replacing the move action with a Stop Evaluating Rules action. Theoretically, the message shouldn't have gotten a color change, but... it did.

As far as I can see, Stop Evaluating Rules does not work on my Mac.



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A Vacation Auto-Reply Script for Mail
Authored by: ibroughton on Oct 10, '07 01:11:16PM

Well, get a decent hosting provider would be my response. If you run your own mail server elsewhere other than on your Mac, you really should know how to set this up anyway!

---
The server is up but the site is down and I don't know which direction you are trying to go



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A Vacation Auto-Reply Script for Mail
Authored by: nige1978 on Oct 28, '07 09:53:15PM

I Work on ships for a living and as the industry is still back in the middle ages, the internet that we all take for granted is not available. And as I am away for months at a time; I would not want to leave my machine on for all that time and more importantly want to take it with me - Please note You cannot access internet when you are at sea....so cell phone...no wireless.

So My question is: has anybody managed to implement this Vacation Auto reply to the .mac mail. I need to inform people of an email address that they could urgently get me on. (Satellite Dial-up - Real modern hey?)

Cheers.



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