Outlook desktop alerts let you know when something important happens. Customize notifications in Outlook to alert you when email arrives from certain people, but unimportant emails are silent.
Websites can show popup notifications when they have new content or want to pass on some information to you. These are sometimes useful, but sometimes annoying and mostly I decline the option to allow them.
However, with Outlook email, you should allow it because you can customize notifications so that you see only what you want to see. You won’t get bugged by irrelevant popups.
You will be notified when an important email arrives in your inbox from specific people, but it will be silent for unimportant ones, so you will not be distracted from your work or whatever you are doing on your computer.
In this article I will show how to change notifications in Outlook and I will be using outlook.com in a web browser. You do not need a Microsoft 365 subscription and I will be using free Outlook email in a browser. It is independent of the computer and operating system, so follow this on Windows PC, Apple Mac or Linux as you prefer.
Outlook notification settings do not appear to be synced, so if you have two computers, like a desktop and a laptop, or work and personal, you may need to do this on both.
1: Open settings
Go to the outlook.com website and you should go straight to your email. Click the gear icon in the top right corner to open the settings panel and then click View all Outlook settings at the bottom.
There are three columns. Select General in the first and Notifications in the second. Notifications settings appears in the larger third column. This is where we will customize email alerts in Outlook.
2: Outlook desktop notifications
In the Notifications panel, turn on the switch, Send me desktop notifications. Tick For messages, and then select Messages from favorite people.
This will prevent notifications appearing for every junk and unimportant email that lands in your inbox. You will only see a notification from people you add to your Favorites list.
It is up to you whether to tick For events. These are calendar events like appointments and meetings, so it is usually useful to include notifications for them.
3: Create Outlook favorites
Close Outlook settings and return to the home screen. Click the People icon in the sidebar (the third from the top in the screenshot), and then select All contacts.
Click a contact to select it and then click Add to favorites in the toolbar at the top. Alternatively, right click (PC) or Ctrl+click (Mac) and select Add to favourites on the menu.
Add only those people you want to see desktop notifications from.
4: Outlook favorites
Select Favorites and all the people you added are listed. They can be work colleagues, your boss, your family, whoever is important to you. You will only see popup desktop notifications from these people.
By creating a Favorites list, you cut out all the irritating notifications about new emails and you only see important ones that require your attention. If you see too many notifications from someone and don’t want to see them anymore, just take them off the Favorites list.
Even if you don’t like browser notifications, Outlook is an exception because you control what you see.