Turning off Outlook desktop notifications

Outlook notifications are the little popups that appear in the bottom right corner of your screen that scream “PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!” There are a couple very good reasons to turn them off. First, every time they appear, what we are doing is interrupted. If we are in the middle of a thought, our attention goes to the notification, and then we need a few seconds to refocus on what we were doing to begin with. Every. @&%#$^. Time. Consider how many messages you receive in a day. Those seconds add up. The second very good reason to turn them off is if you happen to be sharing your screen in Zoom when a message pops up, your meeting attendees will see the incoming email.

If the message is this, having everyone see it isn’t a bad thing.

But if the message is this (student name deleted):

Or this:

Well, no one else needs to see those. It’s even worse if your Zoom meeting is being recorded.

Turning off Outlook notifications

In the web version of Outlook, click on the gear icon in the top right corner to access settings. Next to “Desktop notifications,” flip the toggle switch from blue to white. If you don’t see it there—or even if you do, click on “View all Outlook settings” at the bottom of this pane.

Click on GeneralàNotifications. Uncheck boxes next to “Notify me when a new message arrives” and “Play a sound when a message arrives.” As for reminders, you do you.

In the desktop version of Outlook, click on FileàOptionsàMail. In the “Message arrival” section, turn everything off. With every incoming email, we do not need to hear a ding, watch our mouse pointer switch to an envelope for a split second, see an envelope icon in the bottom right corner of our screen, or—where we started—see a popup desktop alert. If receiving email was a relatively rare occurrence and if almost all of the email we received was of critical importance to us personally, maybe it would make sense to receive these alerts. Maybe.

Go notification-free for a week. If you find yourself getting more work done, then yay for you! If you miss the constant interruptions, go back into settings and turn notifications on again.

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