Outlook: Turn off notifications

January 18, 2009

There are many gurus out there who suggest ways to get control of a never-ending torrent of email. One of the best ways to gain back control is to turn off the email notification message in Outlook. By doing so, you can hopefully control the Pavlovian response that seems to emerge from seemingly ordinary people whenever they see the ‘you’ve got mail’ message pop up. Even when they are in conversation with someone else, the flicker of the rise and fall of that message attracts the eye and some just have to check who the email is from — even when it’s just plain rude to the other person to do so.

These steps work in both Outlook 2003 and 2007.

  1. Go to Tools > Options. It should open at the Preferences tab.
  2. Near the top right of the Preferences tab, click the E-mail Options button (1 on the picture below).

    E-mail options

    E-mail options

  3. Click the Advanced E-mail Options button (2).

    Advanced E-mail Options

    Advanced E-mail Options

  4. Clear the Display a New Mail Desktop Alert check box (3).
    Turn off notifications

    Turn off notifications

    (If you really, really, really must leave this setting turned on, at least click the Desktop Alert Settings button and change the amount of time and the transparency for the popup message.)

  5. While you’re at it, make sure the Play a sound, Briefly change the mouse cursor, and Show an envelope icon are all clear too! All these are productivity-sapping distractions.
  6. Click OK on each window to save your settings and close that window.

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