Q: How can I configure Microsoft Office Outlookâ€™s alerts for new items?
A: Outlook has several methods of alerting a user to the arrival of new email messages. You can configure a sound to identify new message, the mouse pointer can change briefly to a flying envelope icon, an envelope can appear in the task bar, or a new item alert box can pop up. You can configure one or all these options from Outlookâ€™s Tools menu. To do so, select Email Options, Advanced E-mail Options, and select the check boxes for the options you want in the When new items arrive in my inbox section. Each of these alerts is fleeting and doesnâ€™t require any user action to make the alert disappear. The interface does let you extend the time that a new email alert box is visibleâ€”as long as 30 seconds, although you can edit the registry to extend that time.
To make this registry change, go to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Common\DesktopAlerts subkey and open the DWORD parameter for TimeOn. Change the base to Decimal and enter the time in milliseconds that the new email alert box should remain open. A decimal entry of 300,000ms translates to 300 seconds (5 minutes) and a hexadecmal value of 000493e0.(Note that this entry is for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, which is represented by the 12.0 in the path; edit this value to 11.0 for Microsoft Office Outlook 2003.)
I had a client who wanted to force email recipients to acknowledge the arrival of messages from important customers or supervisors. Outlook provides a rule that you can use to generate a New Item Alert window that the recipient must manually close. You can use any of the conditions available in Outlookâ€™s New Rule Wizard to control when a New Item Alert window is presented. In addition, you can use the wizard to customize the New Item Alert window popup message. For example, I created a rule to make users less likely to ignore the arrival of a new email message from Tony Soprano. If users receive a message from Tony Soprano (firstname.lastname@example.org), the text You have a message from Da Boss! is displayed in the New Item Alert window, as Figure 1 shows.