Create an Inbox Auto Reply

Setting up an auto reply is a way to let your customers know you've received their email, set expectations, and send back more information before you reply in full. This article is all about how to set up auto replies in Help Scout Inboxes.

The auto reply is a part of inbox settings that are only available to Help Scout Account Owners and Administrators. See User Roles and Permissions for more on permissions. 

Note: Brand new to Help Scout and looking for access to the auto reply settings? Give us a shout and we'll turn on access for your Account Owner and Administrators. Access will automatically be available after 24 hours. 

In this article

Enable and Edit the Auto Reply

Enable the auto reply on an inbox and it is sent back to your customer when the email lands in the Help Scout inbox. An auto reply is only sent in reply to the first email in a conversation, and to any individual email address once within a 24 hour period by default. 

If you'd rather your customers receive an auto reply for every new conversation, let us know and we can change that setting for your account. Note that this will affect all inboxes on your account.

Open an inbox, then head over to Settings > Auto Reply.

Toggle Enable Auto Reply to on. Check the Office Hours option if you only want to send your auto reply outside of regular business hours. See Set Company Office Hours for more on that feature. 


Enter your reply subject in the Subject field. The auto reply defaults to Re: {%subject%} in the subject field, but you are free to change that as you like. Enter the body of your reply in the Message field. Use variables, like {%subject%} to auto populate information. See Work With Variables for more there. 


Click Save.

Now this auto reply will go out to your customers when they email you. Note that you will not see the auto reply email reflected in your conversation history in app, this just happens in the background! 

A Note about the From Name

The auto reply will use the From Name, the name that shows as the name in an email client, as is set in your Inbox Settings on the Auto Reply message. This means if the From Name is set to the Inbox name or Custom Name, that's what will go out as the From Name on your Auto Reply message as well. If the Custom Name is using any User variables, the Account Owner's information will be populate those variables. 

If your Inbox is set to User's Name for the From Name, your auto reply email will in fact use the inbox name instead. 

Troubleshoot the Auto Reply

There are a few things to keep in mind about auto replies if you're testing things out and not seeing an auto reply come back to you when you think it should.  

  • The auto reply only goes out to the first email in a conversation. If you're replying to an existing conversation, you're not going to get an auto reply. 
  • The auto reply only goes out 1 time to any individual email address per 24 hours. If you've already gotten an auto reply at your address today, you won't see it again. Use a different email address to test if you need to generate it again. If you'd rather your customers receive an auto reply for every new conversation, let us know and we can change that setting for your account. Note that this will affect all inboxes on your account.
  • The auto reply does not go back to emails that look like auto replies themselves  — this keeps from having your auto reply go out to someone else's auto reply, which would then reply again and create a big loop of auto replies. Make sure you're not using the words "auto reply" or any variation of that phrase in your test, and that you're not testing from any email addresses that are typically reserved for auto replies or bulk emails, such as,,, etc. 

If you are sure that you're starting a conversation from an email address that has not received an auto reply within the last 24 hours, and your test email does not include any words or come from an address that would make Help Scout think it might be an auto reply itself, there's one last thing you want to check! 

Some email providers will add headers into emails that are automatically forwarded — which is typically how email gets to Help Scout, so is likely how your email gets there — that tell other email servers that it's an automatically generated email and auto replies shouldn't be sent. If your server has inserted these bits into your email headers, Help Scout is not able to send out an auto reply to any of the emails that are forwarded to your inbox. 

To check for this: find the test email you sent to your Help Scout inbox, and take a quick look at your email headers for your test message. Check out the Thread Options menu (the 3 dots menu next to your email), then click on the Show Original option, followed by the Headers tab at the top of the modal. You're looking for these headers: 

  • Precedence: bulk
  • auto-submitted: auto-generated
  • X-Auto-Response-Suppress: DR, OOF, AutoReply

You'll want to check in with your IT team or email administrator to ask about changing settings at your email provider to keep those from showing in your automatically forwarded emails.

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