How to Auto-Reply to Text Messages on Android
If you’re usually quick to respond to text messages, people might worry when you don’t reply for a while. And while auto-reply functionality isn’t built into the platform, it’s thankfully easy to set up automatic text replies on Android.
Using a few apps, you can send auto-responses to people who try to contact you while you’re driving, in a meeting, on vacation, or otherwise occupied. Here’s how to auto-reply to texts on Android.
Automatically Respond to Texts Using the SMS Auto Reply App
The best way to set up auto-responses to texts on Android is using SMS Auto Reply, which offers most of its features for free. We’ll walk you through how to use it.
Note that the app allows you to pay for each upgraded feature separately or get them all in a bundle. If you’re interested in using everything the app has to offer, we recommend getting the bundle as it’s much less expensive.
Download: SMS Auto Reply (Free, in-app purchases available)
Getting Started With SMS Auto Reply
After installing the app, you can walk through the basic overview and then start making your own auto-response rules. Tap Add/Edit on the home screen to start one.
At the top, you’ll see the Busy template is selected by default. You can tap the dropdown arrow to change it to other included options like Driving, Meeting, or Movie. Each one has its own preset message, which you can edit in the Message field. Most of these are cheesy or use improper punctuation by default, so it’s a good idea to change them to match your usual texting tone.
To create your own response template, tap the Plus icon at the top-right and give it a name. Before moving on, make sure you have SMS selected under Select channel to reply to so the responder works on text messages. The app supports other services (like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) too, but you have to upgrade to access that functionality.
Set Exceptions for Text Auto-Responses
The next step in tweaking a template, or making your own, is the Personalized List section. Here, you can optionally choose to send a personalized message to particular contacts. This allows you to leave a more personal note for people you know well or are expecting a message from. Everyone else will get the general message you entered above.
Tap the Pencil icon next to Personalized List to select contacts, or contact groups, that the personalized message should go to. Once you choose the contacts, type out the message for them.
You’ll also see a Don’t Reply List field. This allows you to specify numbers that you don’t want to auto-respond to. For instance, you can exclude people you expect to text while out of office, or shortcode numbers (like those that send bank alerts).
When you’re done, tap Save to apply your changes to the current template.
Setting a Schedule for Auto-Responses
Next, you’ll want to set up a schedule for the auto-responder to run on. Choose Set Time on the home page, or the Set Time button at the bottom of the previous editing screen, to configure this.
Make sure you have the right reply template selected from the dropdown bar at the top. Then you have four options for the SMS auto-reply schedule:
- Run by Time lets you pick a time period when the auto-responder should be active. Simply set a start time with From and an ending time with To.
- Run by Date will respond to messages during a period of dates (plus start and end times on those dates) that you choose. This is useful for setting “out of office” text replies when you know you’ll be away for a set amount of days.
- Run by Week Days will activate the auto-responder for the time period you choose on the specified days of the week. Check the Repeat Weekly box if you want it to run the same way in the coming weeks.
- Run when your car Bluetooth connects lets you activate the profile when your phone connects to one or more Bluetooth devices of your choosing. Make sure that you have Bluetooth enabled and the device(s) paired before selecting this. This option requires you to upgrade via in-app purchase.
There are a few other useful toggles here that each require you to purchase an upgrade. Set Alarm to the Auto Reply End Time will remind you when auto-replies are set to stop so you remember to start responding as normal. Read aloud incoming messages is self-explanatory, but you can use other methods to read text out loud on Android that don’t require paying.
Tap Save and you’ll go to the On/Off screen. There, the app will let you know that due to Android limitations, it only works with incoming SMS text messages that show notifications. Make sure you have notifications turned on for your SMS app, and that those notifications show in your notification bar, or the auto-reply won’t work. See how to fix Android notifications that don’t show up if you have an issue.
You also must use an SMS app that supports quick replies from the notification bubble, which most modern Android SMS apps should.
Toggling Auto-Responses to Text Messages
Visit the Turn On/Off page from the homepage, and you’ll see all the auto-response rules you’ve created. If you’d like to create different profiles for different times or groups of people, you can repeat the above steps to set up as many rules as you like.
To actually enable auto-responses, enable the slider next to a rule. When you do this, the app will prompt you to enable notification access so it knows when you get a text message. It may also ask you to disable Android’s battery optimization, allow unrestricted data access, and provide other permissions so it can run properly.
While this is a lot of permissions to grant, they are necessary for the app to function as intended. When a rule is currently active, you’ll see it highlighted on this page.
Auto Responder Settings and Other Features
That’s all you need to use SMS Auto Reply properly. Feel free to create as many rules as you want to automate texts that come in during different times of the day or the week. The service has a few extras that you should know about, however.
Once a rule has gone into effect, tap Reports on the home screen to view information about what messages it sent while that profile was active. On the left sidebar of the main screen, you can use the Backup tool to save your configurations to Google Drive.
When you’re on the Turn On/Off Replies screen, you’ll see a Settings cog for each template. It’s worth examining this menu as it contains a lot of useful options. For instance, enable Send only one reply and the app won’t respond to multiple messages from the same person during the duration of the rule. This prevents you from repeating a canned message if someone sends multiple texts.
Reply only if passed lets you set a minimum number of texts that someone must send you in a period before they get an auto-reply. You can also add in a random Delay before Reply to make the automatic response seem less robotic.
Under Reply rules, you can also choose to respond only to your contacts, non-contacts, or any personalized lists you’ve set up as above. And in Ignore Numbers, you can also choose to skip your rules for short numbers, which is a good idea since most automated messages come from shortcode numbers. Most of these ask you not to reply to their texts, so auto-responses aren’t useful for them anyway.
Auto Reply offers a few in-app purchases to unlock more features, as mentioned above. For example, you can add auto-responses to messages from Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and similar. These will also unlock a default profile option and easy one-tap toggling of auto-replies.
It costs $6.49 for everything (including ad removal), which is worth considering if you use the service often.
Create Your Own Text Auto-Reply Applets With IFTTT
If you don’t like the above solution for some reason, you can always create your own auto-responses with IFTTT.
First, sign up for IFTTT and activate the Android SMS service. You’ll need to install the IFTTT app on your phone to complete this step. From there, you can use Android text messages as both triggers and actions for new applets.
You’re only limited by your creativity here. For example, you might use the New SMS received matches search trigger to catch messages containing certain words. The action could then send an automatic SMS response letting them know that you’re not available.
There’s a lot to digest with IFTTT, so check out our complete IFTTT guide to help you on your way. The free plan only lets you make a handful of applets, but that should be enough for a few SMS responses.
Download: IFTTT (Free, subscription available)
Enable Automatic Text Replies in Your SMS App
Finally, for one more option, don’t forget that some Android texting apps have auto-response functionality built-in. One of our favorites, Pulse SMS, includes this in its vast feature set. Give it a look if your current SMS doesn’t support auto-responses.
To use this, open Pulse and slide out the left sidebar. Choose Settings, then scroll down to the bottom and tap Advanced Features. On this menu, find the Messaging Features section near the bottom and tap Auto Reply Configuration to start using it.
Enable either Driving Mode or Vacation Mode to automatically respond to every text you receive. Choose Message text for each of them to set up your response message.
You’ll need to toggle vacation mode in this menu, but you can toggle driving mode easily by adding a tile to the Quick Settings shade. Just swipe down from the top of your screen twice to open it, then tap the Pencil icon in that panel. Find Driving Mode | Pulse SMS and drag it into your list of quick setting tiles. There’s no way to activate this automatically when connecting to a Bluetooth device, so this is the fastest way.
For more flexibility, choose Create a New Auto Reply. There, you can choose either Contact or Keyword. Contact-based replies will send an automatic response when a particular contact texts you. Keyword-based replies will automatically reply when you get any text messages containing the word or phrase you specify.
As the app mentions, driving and vacation modes take precedence over any custom rules you set here.
Want to Automatically Respond to Texts With Android Auto?
Android Auto used to have an option that let you respond with a canned message to incoming text messages while driving. One tap on a message’s notification would send I’m driving right now to the person so they knew not to expect a response right away. And for a while, this message was even customizable.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an option in Android Auto anymore as of this writing. The latest versions of Android Auto include a “smart reply” feature, which will show quick responses like “Okay” and “Thanks” that you can tap to send in response to text messages. However, what appears depends on Google Assistant’s AI, so there’s no way to automatically respond with your own stock message. And since Android Auto isn’t available on phone screens anymore (it’s been replaced by Google Assistant Driving Mode), there isn’t any comparable feature there either.
As a result, there’s no good built-in way to auto-respond to texts only while driving on Android. We recommend using one of the methods above to set up your automatic response texts.
Automatic Replies to Android Text Messages Made Easy
We’ve looked at a few ways to send auto-response texts on Android. Whether you just need an easy and safe way to let people know you’re driving, or want to dive into a full setup with multiple auto-response profiles, you won’t have to leave anyone waiting for a reply again. Remember that you don’t owe people an immediate response, so you shouldn’t stress out about this too much.
Don’t think that SMS is useless these days, either. There are services that still make good use of it.
Make SMS Useful Again: 7 Services That Use SMS Messages Cleverly
About The Author
(1808 Articles Published)
Ben is the Editor in Chief at MakeUseOf. He left his IT job to write full-time in 2016 and has never looked back. He’s been covering tech tutorials, video game recommendations, and more as a professional writer for over eight years.
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May 14, 2022 at 09:21AM