Josh.biz Technical Note 4 – added February 2007
Microsoft Outlook 2003 does not play sound for new mail notification
Microsoft Outlook 2003 can be configured to play a sound when new mail arrives (new mail notification).
However, it seems that many users are finding that despite their best efforts, this feature refuses to operate.
microsoft outlook 2003, new mail notification, play sound, rules
The setting (which failed for myself) can be switched on within Outlook 2003 by visiting:
- Tools Menu, Options
- On the ‘Preferences’ tab, click ‘Email Options’
- Click ‘Advanced Email Options’
- Under ‘When new items arrive in my Inbox",
select ‘Play a sound’
The particular sound to be played can be configured within Windows XP by visiting the Control Panel, ‘Sounds and Audio Devices Properties’, on the ‘Sounds’ tab under ‘Program events’.
Although the settings above were set correctly, Outlook 2003 still refuses whatsoever to ever play a sound.
After much research, the following suggested solutions were discovered:
- Ensure that Oulook 2003 is set as the default email client software in Windows XP. If this is set correctly, Outlook 2003 should be displayed as the email client in the top left corner of the Start menu.
- Ensure that all available Microsoft Office updates have been downloaded and installed.
- The ‘play a sound’ option within Outlook 2003 will only operate if the Outlook 2003 program window is minimised.
- The ‘play a sound’ option will not only operate when Outlook 2003 is first started as it is considered that the user does not require notification of new mail at this time.
- The new mail notification sound will only play once every 5 minutes, even if you get mail every 30 seconds.
I found none of these to be of any use. Outlook 2003 refused to play a sound whatsoever.
But a solution was discovered…
The solution circumvents the Outlook 2003 general feature above by (instead) using the ‘rules’ feature within Outlook 2003. No third party software or downloads are required.
In order to play a particular sound whenever new mail arrives, a ‘rule’ can be set up within Outlook 2003. Rules of this type can be applied to all new emails. Rules can also be created to play different sounds when mail arrives from specified senders.
If you wish to play one particular sound every time new mail arrives in the Inbox (regardless of who the sender is), skip bullet points 3 & 4 (below) by just clicking ‘Next’ and the rule will apply to ALL incoming emails. However much more fun can be had by configuring individual alerts for mail received from different senders (See Side Notes further down).
Tools menu, Rules and Alerts…
- Click ‘New Rule’
- Click ‘Start from a blank rule’, and then click ‘Next’.
- Under ‘Step 1: Select condition(s)’, select the ‘from people or distribution list’ check box.
- Under ‘Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value)’, click ‘people or distribution list’
- Select a name from the list or type an e-mail address in the ‘From’ box
- Click ‘OK’, and then click ‘Next’
- Under Step 1: Select action(s)’, select the ‘play a sound’ check box
- Under ‘Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value)’, ‘click a sound’
- Select a sound file, click ‘Open’, and then click ‘Next’ twice
- Under ‘Step 1: Specify a name for this rule’, type a name for this rule
- Click ‘Finish’
- When the ‘This rule is a client-only rule and will process only when Outlook is running’ dialog box appears, click ‘OK’
These instructions can also be viewed at the Microsoft Outlook 2003 Help website under ‘Play a specific sound when e-mail messages arrive from designated senders‘.
If this link fails consistently please .
Personally, I ended up setting up individual rules which play a particular sound for new mail from certain people, as well as a general rule for all other incoming emails.
If you also wish to configure your rules in this way, please note that the general rule to play a sound for all mail should exclude senders who will have individual rules.
I believe also that the order of the rules is highly important. My rules are ordered as follows as this seems to operate perfectly.
- Run rules which move emails identified as spam
- Run rules which move emails to certain folders
- Run general ‘play sound’ rule for ALL new emails (but with certain senders excluded)
- Run specific rules which play different sounds for new mail from certain senders (these people must be excluded in the ‘general’ rule)
Your feedback is highly valued
We welcome your comments on this technical note, even if it’s just to say thanks. We particularly welcome comments which add further experience and information on the subject. If any of the links on this page fail consistently, please tell us.