How to configure Google Workspace for a vacation

Change settings in Google Calendar, Gmail and Google Chat to indicate that you’re on a holiday.

Before you take a break from work, configure three Google Workspace apps for vacation (or, on holiday, as they say in some parts of the world). You have a few choices to make in Google Calendar, Gmail and Google Chat, depending on how you want each app to handle incoming events, email and messages while you’re away.

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To prepare each of these apps for your absence, make sure you’re signed in with your Google Workspace organization account, then follow the steps below. You may schedule a Google Calendar out-of-office event and configure your Gmail vacation responder at any time. However, I suggest you wait to adjust your Google Chat status to vacationing as one of the very last things you do before your break, since that status change goes into effect immediately.

Schedule a Google Calendar out-of-office event 

Open Google Calendar, either on the web or in the Google Calendar mobile app on Android or iOS.Select the + button to create a new event.Select the Out of Office event type to indicate you’ll be unavailable (Figure A).Add an appropriate title (e.g., “On a much needed vacation”).Configure the dates and times to reflect your vacation days.By default, the system will automatically decline all existing and new events on your calendar during the selected period. Unless you must fill your time off with meetings, I strongly recommend you leave the setting as the default. 

Figure A

If you want, modify the message people will receive to explain your absence (Figure B). The default reply reads “Declined because I am out of office,” but you may edit it to elaborate as appropriate (e.g., “I am on vacation until Dec. 8. Please contact (name) at (email/phone) if you need help while I’m off.”)Make sure to select Save to preserve your changes and add the event to your Google Calendar.

Figure B

Screenshot of Google Calendar Out of office event on Android, with Out of office event details displayed: Event title (Out of office), type (Out of office), Dates (Dec 8 - Dec 12), All day events, configured to Automatically decline all new and existing meetings during those dates.Screenshot of Google Calendar Out of office event on Android, with Out of office event details displayed: Event title (Out of office), type (Out of office), Dates (Dec 8 - Dec 12), All day events, configured to Automatically decline all new and existing meetings during those dates.

The Google Calendar app (on Android, shown here, and iOS) also lets you schedule an out-of-office event.

How to configure a Gmail vacation responder

On the web, go to Gmail.Select Settings (the sprocket, in the upper right area), then See All Settings.On the General tab, scroll to the bottom to access the Vacation responder (Figure C).Select the first and last dates you want your responder to be active.Enter the Gmail subject and message you want the system to send while you’re on vacation.By default, if you do not select any additional options, Gmail will reply to every incoming email with the vacation subject and message you enter. However, I strongly suggest that you select the checkboxes next to “Only send a response to people in my contacts” and “Only send a response to people in (your organization).” This ensures that only people you know or work with will receive your vacation responder message….

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