In the default configuration for Outlook 2003, desktop alerts are turned on for all email. The program doesn't make a distinction between items I should act on compared with ones that can wait. Everything blends and becomes a distraction. Part of my dissatisfaction is few people give enough detail in the first part of the email for me to decide if the email is important. The minute the little translucent box showed, my focus shifted from whatever I was doing.
Although the time it took to glance at the alert was minimal, my attention changed. However, there are times when I want to know right away that an email has arrived. Instead of keeping desktop alerts going all the time, I write email rules for specific items or conditions. One example is when I'm notified our web site is unreachable. You hope you don't get these emails, but you want to act quickly when they arrive.
The first part of this solution is to turn off the desktop alerts.
How to turn off Outlook's Desktop Alerts,
1. From the Tools menu, select Options
2. On the Options dialog click the Preferences tab.
3. Click the E-mail Options button.
4. Click the Advanced E-mail Options button
5. In the Advanced Email Option dialog, uncheck Display a New Mail Desktop Alert (default inbox only)
6. Click OK three times.
The next step is to determine which emails need your attention. I happen to have two conditions and both of them are based on emergencies. You could decide to add more rules based on your situation such as a VIP client, eBay auction bids and so on. This selection process you'll have to do on your own.
How to Create a Conditional Desktop Alert
1. Open an email that meets your alert conditions. This might be based on sender, specific text and so on.
2. From the Actions menu, select Create Rule
3. In the Create Rule dialog, select the trigger(s) that would apply. Outlook will pre-fill the From, Subject and Sent to information.
4. If you would also like an audible alert, check Play a selected sound.
5. Click the Advanced options button
6. The Rules Wizard dialog will appear with your options from the previous step. You may add conditions.
7. Click the Next button.
8. Scroll to the bottom of the action list and check display a Desktop Alert.
9. A warning message will appear saying you can't edit this rule in previous versions of Outlook. Click Yes.
10. Click Next.
11. Check any exceptions you might have and click Next.
12. Edit the rule name if needed.
13. If you based the alert on an existing email, you can test the alert by checking the box for Run this rule now.
14. Click the Finish button.
So long as Outlook is picking up email in the background, you will get a desktop alert when an email matches your triggers regardless of what application you're using. One important exception is if you're running a PowerPoint 2003 slide show. In a similar fashion, you might want to temporarily disable the rule if you're giving an online presentation using some other services such as WebEx.
When the alert arrives, you can decide the next action. One nice feature to desktop alerts is you can have easy access to the mail functions from the alert. This is nice considering that it's often difficult to tell the full impact of the email from the snippet you see.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 16 September 2009 01:56)