Creating a permanent New Mail Desktop Alert

New Mail Alert buttonThe New Mail Desktop Alert is a handy pop-up alert for new emails. However, an often heard complaint is that it goes away too quickly.

Another often heard complaint is that it only works for the Inbox folder.

This guide explains how you can configure to display a New Mail Desktop Alert for all your mail and/or for it to remain visible for longer than 30 seconds or even not to let it go away at all until you dismiss it.


The New Mail Desktop Alerts throughout the versions

Below is an overview of how the New Mail Desktop Alerts look throughout the versions of Outlook and Windows.

New Mail Alert 2002 and previous
Old New Mail Alert for Outlook 2002 and previous.

New mail Alert Outlook 2003
New Mail Desktop Alert for Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2013.

New mail notification for Outlook 2013 on Windows 8
New Mail Desktop Alert for Outlook 2013 on Windows 8.

Configure the duration of the Mail Alert; even permanent!

New Mail Alert Duration buttonHow to configure the display duration of the New Mail Alert depends on the version of Outlook you are using and also on which version of Windows you are using it. Select your version or version combination from the list below;

When using Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010

Registry Editor buttonTechnically, you can’t actually set is to display “permanent” but how does 50 days sound? By a simple Registry edit you can set the New Mail Desktop Alert as long as 4,294,967,295 milliseconds ≈ 50 days.

Just a little math first to clarify the working of the Registry key;

  • The value is defined in milliseconds.
  • When the registry key is set to 0 the New Mail Alert still shows for 3 seconds so this is hard coded in the program thus 3,000 milliseconds.
  • 4,294,967,295 is the maximum value you can set a 32bit DWORD value to in the Registry.
  • As the object that controls the time of the New Mail Desktop Alert is also defined as a DWORD and is 3000 already we cannot give the TimeOn registry key a higher value than;
    4,294,967,295 – 3000 = 4,294,964,295
  • To convert from milliseconds to days, we must divide the milliseconds through; 1000 to convert to seconds, then 60 to convert to minutes, then 60 to convert to hours, then 24 to convert to days
    (4,294,964,295 + 3,000) / (1000 * 60 * 60 *24) ≈ 50

After all this math it’s time to tell which Registry value controls all this:

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\<version>\Common\DesktopAlerts
Value name: TimeOn
Value type: REG_DWORD
Value: 0 - 4294964295 

If this key isn’t available choose Edit-> New-> DWORD Value and name it TimeOn(case sensitive!).

Double click the key to give it a decimal value between 0 and 4294964295 (in Hexadecimal value this will be fffff448).

The TimeOn Registry value controls how long the New Mail Desktop Alert dialog shows for Outlook.
Setting the maximum decimal TimeOn value in the Registry.

Tip!
To easily set the New Mail Alert without going into the registry you can use OutlookTools (free!)

When using Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 on Windows Vista or Windows 7

Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016 buttonThis combination of Outlook and Windows uses the same New Mail Alert settings as previous versions of Outlook.

There are significant changes to the looks and behavior of the New Mail Alert when you are upgrading to Windows 8 or Windows 10 in the future.

When using Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 on Windows 8 or Windows 10

Action Center buttonWindows 8 introduced a new notification mechanism. In Windows 10 this notification mechanism got extended with the Action Center. Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016 both take advantage of this notification mechanism and don’t use the New Mail Alert that is being shown when you have it installed on Windows Vista or Windows 7.

As Windows 10 collects all displayed Notifications in the Action Center, there is no direct need to adjust the New Mail duration anymore; Simply open the Notification Area to see any missed Notifications from Outlook or any other applications.

Windows 8 and Windows 10 will by default show the Notifications for 5 seconds. You can change this to 7, 15 or 30 seconds or 1 or 5 minutes by going to;

  • Windows 8.1
    Charms-> Settings (keyboard shortcut Windows + I) -> Change PC Settings-> Ease of Access-> Other options-> Show notifications for x seconds/minutes
  • Windows 10
    Start-> Settings-> Ease of Access-> Other options-> Show notifications for x seconds/minutes

You can set the duration to a custom value via the MessageDuration Registry value;

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Accessibility
Value name: MessageDuration
Value type: REG_DWORD

As the value you must enter the duration in seconds. Set the base from Hexadecimal to Decimal to more easily set the value.

Any setting longer than 300 will end up displaying the alert for 5 minutes. Any non-predefined duration will display the option in Settings being configured to display the alert for 5 minutes even though it will actually display it for the duration configured in the Registry. This means, you can also set the alert to display for 45 seconds or 2 minutes.

Note: After modifying the setting via the Registry, you must log off and then log on again for the setting to take affect.

Registry - Accessibility - MessageDuration - Show notifications for x seconds/minutes
Via the Registry you can set a non-default value for how long the Windows Notifications should show.

Configure the Mail Alert to monitor al folders; not just the Inbox

Manage Rules & Alerts buttonBy default the new New Mail Desktop Alert will only show when the mail is delivered to the Inbox. This means that when you have a rule configured to move your mail to a different folder the Notification won’t show.

To workaround this, you can add the action “display a Desktop Alert” to each and every rule. Besides the fact that it is very tiresome, the real downside of this is that when you are in an Exchange organization the rule will become a local rule so that it will only execute when Outlook is running. This means that when you have added extra actions to the rule, like forwarding it to another address, those actions won’t be executed either.

A better solution is to create a generic rule with no conditions and just the action to display the Desktop Alert.

  1. Open the Rules and Alerts dialog;
    • Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
      Tools-> Rules and Alerts… (press OK if you get an HTTP warning)
    • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
      File->  button: Manage Rules & Alerts
  2. Button New Rule…
  3. Select “Start from a blank rule” and verify that “Check messages when they arrive” or “Apply rule on message I receive” is selected.
  4. Press Next to go to the Conditions screen.
  5. Verify that no condition is selected and press Next.
  6. A warning will pop-up stating that this rule will apply to all messages. Press “Yes” to indicate that that is correct.
  7. Select the action “display a Desktop Alert”.
  8. Press Finish to complete the rule.
  9. If needed move the “display a Desktop Alert” rule all the way to the top.

New Mail Desktop Alert rule (click on image to enlarge)
You can create a rule to show the New Mail Desktop Alert for each message that you receive. (click on image to enlarge)

Show a Mail Alert with a list of all newly received e-mails

New Emails buttonThe New Mail Desktop Alert only shows for the last e-mail received so when you’ve received multiple new e-mails across folders it still might be a bit hard to immediately locate them. This has actually always been the case with any version of Outlook. Outlook 2003 has a new action rule for this; display a specific message in the New Item Alert window.

As an example, we are again going to create a generic rule with no conditions and just the action to display the New Item Alert window. You can of course set conditions and exceptions as desired and note that, since Outlook 2003 SP1, rules get executed after Junk E-mail filtering so the New Item Alert window won’t get polluted with Junk E-mail.

  1. Open the Rules and Alerts dialog;
    • Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
      Tools-> Rules and Alerts… (press OK if you get an HTTP warning)
    • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
      File->  button: Manage Rules & Alerts
  2. Button New Rule…
  3. Select “Start from a blank rule” and verify that “Check messages when they arrive” or “Apply rule on message I receive” is selected.
  4. Press Next to go to the Conditions screen.
  5. Verify that no condition is selected and press Next.
  6. A warning will pop-up stating that this rule will apply to all messages. Press “Yes” to indicate that that is correct.
  7. Select the action: display a specific message in the New Item Alert window.
  8. Type your specific message (this is handy when you create more than one rule that displays the New Item Alert window so that you can easily distinguish between them).
  9. Press Finish to complete the rule.
  10. If needed move the “display a Desktop Alert” rule all the way to the top

New Item Alert window
Get your newly received e-mails in a handy overview.

Tip!
As an alternative, you can also consider the “Today’s Unread Mail folder” Search Folder solution.