KC Lemson

By KC Lemson [MS]


Minimize Outlook 2003 to the system tray (er, taskbar notification area)

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I've noticed that a bunch of the referrers I get from google/msn/yahoo search to this blog are interested in terms such as "Email Notification Icon". So in response to that, today's blog entry is about two tricks related to the system tray, one of which is about the email notification icon.

Tip #1: How to minimize Outlook 2003 so that it doesn't appear on the taskbar:

1. Click on the Outlook icon in the system tray
2. Check "Hide when minimized"
3. Minimize Outlook

And voila, Outlook will not show up on the taskbar. To maximize Outlook, click on the system tray icon again and choose "Open Outlook."

Note: If reminders fire, they will still show up on the taskbar.

Tip #2: Turn off the envelope icon the system tray

The new mail icon in the system tray tends to be one of those features that you either hate or love. If you are in the hate camp, just turn it off (Outlook 2002/2003):

1. Tools | Options | E-mail Options | Advanced E-mail Options
2. Uncheck "Show an envelope icon in the notification area"

Outlook 2003 contains a new message notification mechanism that's much spiffier (at least in my humble opinion). This mechanism (known as "desktop alert") displays a translucent box on your screen with the first few lines of the message and gives you the option to delete it, flag it or open it while it's being displayed. This is configured in the same dialog as the above checkbox, just click "Desktop Alert Settings".

P.S. I love the idea of creating blog entries based on the searches that already lead to this blog. It's such a warm-fuzzy-customer-feedback-loop. :-)

  • Tip #1 is good, but what if I want to do the opposite? I want to see Outlook minimized in the task bar, but I want to get rid of the stupid icon in the tray.

  • How do you go about finding searches that already lead to this blog ?

  • Craig: You can use the tool at <a href="http://sunflowerhead.com/software/knockout/">http://sunflowerhead.com/software/knockout/</a> to do that. Phil: Sorry, only the owner of the blog has access to that information.

  • KC: How will adding another control to the tray solve my problem. There are FAR too many programs that put themselves in the tray when they don't need to be there. I really wish dev teams would start reading Microsoft's UI guidelines.

  • Consider me a happy customer of your feedback loop! I've been looking for how to get rid of that little system tray icon - many thanks!!

  • Ok, so the desktop notification thingy is really cool but how do you get it to stay on the screen longer than 30 sec? Even the 3 sec is fine if I am sitting at my computer but what if I am constantly getting up and down? There's the envelope sure, but I kinda like the desktop notification. Why such a constrictive time limit?

  • The UI has to choose some reasonable default to please 'most people most of the time'. You can customize this if you want it to be longer- see the blog entry from 11/26: http://blogs.gotdotnet.com/kclemson/PermaLink.aspx/007214ed-5d64-4102-a5ce-c90382c86d95 There's also the envelope icon in the system tray that will remain on the tray until you open a new mail or mark something as read. Tools | Options | Email Options | Advanced Email Options | Show an envelope icon...

  • Is there any way of getitng rid of the envelope icon in the system tray if you have Outlook 200 SP3? I hate having that thing sat on my dektop accusing me of not looking at my email when I have work to do... Chris

  • I have an IMAP account as my default account - the new mail goes to the inbox of the IMAP account - Outlook will notify me with the envelope icon, however, becuase it doesn't go to the "default Inbox" - the desktop notification doesn't work. Any ideas?

  • Thanks for the info. I was wondering if you could help me, I'm looking for a way to be alerted to messages I care about. I do not want the system tray icon to appear if the incoming email is a mailing list I belong to; those I stuff in a separate folder.

    I saw in the Rules Wizard that there's an option "clear the message flag" but that's the "followup" flag, not the system tray message indicator.

    I don't want to just turn it completely off; I want to be interrupted when something work-related comes in, but I do *not* want to be interrupted when an email from a mailing list comes in, as those I can read at my leisure.

    I realize I can change my subscription options to "batched daily digest" mode instead of "one email per message" mode, but I prefer the latter for storage and review.

    Does anyone know how to do this? It's okay if it flickers then turns off, but it'd of course be even better if it didn't.

    Ken Beal

  • Have you looked at the desktop alert feature in tools / options / email options / advanced email options, to see if that meets your needs?

  • Craig asked you how to get rid of the stupid Outlook icon in the tray altogether, and you told him to use the knockout tool. BUT this tool has an icon of it's own and the outlook icon is only disabled when this tool is runing so there is no gain there...
    Do you know of any other way to remove the Outlook icon? maybe by editing the registry?

  • Yes, Yoav, that was discussed above. I am not aware of any registry key to change this. The way knockout works is by using win32 APIs, so if you were able to write something separately to do that, that's one possibility.

    Another way just occurred to me... if you're using windows XP, right click on the taskbar and go to properties, check "hide inactive icons" and click customize. From there you can choose to always hide the icon.

  • Thanx KC. The "always hide" icon did the trick!

  • I just installed Outlook 2003. I was using Outlook Epress before. In Express, I always got a new mail notification. In Outlook 2003, I don't get any type of notification when new mail arrives. Does anyone know of how to correct this problem? All the notification items are checked. I'm using a hotmail account if that helps.