Introduction to Outlook 2007 – Using Desktop Alerts

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Desktop alerts are messages that appear on your screen when certain things happen in Outlook. You’ve probably seen them in the lower-right corner of the screen, popping up over whatever you happen to be doing when new mail arrives in Outlook. While you’ve probably seen desktop alerts when new messages arrive, you can actually see them when any of the following things happen:

  • You receive email messages: In this case, the alert displays the name of the sender, the subject of the message, and a bit of the body of the message.
  • You receive a meeting request: This kind of alert displays the name of the sender, the subject, and the date, time, and location of the meeting.
  • You receive a task request: An alert for a task request displays the name of the sender, the subject, and the starting date for the task.

As long as Outlook is running (even minimized) and desktop alerts are active (this is the default option), any of the above events will trigger an alert.

Desktop alerts appear over whatever else is visible on the screen at the time. By default, they’re partially transparent, and appear along with some sort of tone or other sound to get your attention if the visible portion of the alert isn’t enough. Alerts remain visible for a few seconds, then disappear. Each of these characteristics is customizable.

Working With Desktop Alerts

Desktop alerts not only alert you to something important, but they allow you to work with the item without messing with the Inbox. Next time you see a Desktop Alert, notice the little down arrow in the top-right corner. If you click that down arrow, Outlook displays a menu of options you can click to take various actions.

How to Customize Desktop Alerts

What few Outlook users realize is that you have complete control over the behavior of alerts, including the amount of time they stay on the screen or whether they appear at all. You can customize desktop alert settings from the Desktop Alert Settings dialog box from the main Outlook window. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click Tools > Options to open the Options dialog box.
  2. From the Preferences tab of the Options dialog box, click email Options.
  3. From the email Options dialog box, click Advanced email Options.
  4. From the Advanced email Options dialog box, click Desktop Alert Settings.

Once you get to the Desktop Alert Settings dialog box, you can adjust the amount of time that alerts appear on the screen along with the transparency of the alert box (visit Using Desktop Alerts at the Living With Outlook website for more information). You can see the results of your changes by clicking the Preview button at the bottom of the dialog box. Click OK when you’ve got things adjusted the way you want them.

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