Display envelope icon when new mail arrives (Outlook 2010 and Windows 7)

May 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Many of the legal secretaries at the Los Angeles law firm where I am currently providing floor support during an upgrade to Office 2010 and Windows 7 have asked how to restore the envelope icon they are accustomed to seeing in the Systray portion of the Taskbar when a new mail message arrives. The icon no longer displays. They still receive a pop-up notification about new mail, but it fades out quickly, and if they happen to be away from their desks, on the phone, or otherwise occupied when a message comes in, they can miss the brief notification.

There’s actually a relatively easy fix for the problem. By default, Windows 7 hides certain icons, including the envelope icon that announces new mail. However, you can change this setting by clicking the “Show hidden iconsbutton — a small, upward-pointing triangle toward the right side of the Taskbar — and clicking “Customize…

When you do so, you’ll see a list of several Notification Area Icons, including the familiar envelope icon labeled “Microsoft Outlook” (with a description in gray text below that says something like, “You have new unread e-mail messages…”). Note the drop-down to the right of the icon. By default, it is configured to show only notifications (desktop alerts). Click to change the default setting to “Show icon and notifications,” and click “OK” to save your new setting.[1]

If the envelope icon still doesn’t display when you receive a new message, check to see how Outlook is configured. From within the program, click the File tab, Options, Mail category, scroll down to the Desktop Alerts section, and make sure that “Show an envelope icon in the taskbar” is enabled (checked). (It should be enabled by default, but it’s worth reviewing to make certain.) Click “OK” to save your settings.[2]

Once you have enabled the icon as well as the notifications, the envelope icon should appear in the Systray portion of the Taskbar whenever a new mail message arrives.[3]
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[1] An alternate way to get to this screen is via the Control Panel. Click the Start button, Control Panel, and then click Notification Area Icons.

[2] Note, incidentally, that it is from this same section of the Outlook Options that you can turn desktop alerts on or off and configure the length of the alerts (up to 30 seconds) as well as their transparency / opacity.

[3] If you still are not seeing the envelope icon when you receive new mail, it’s probably because you are using a protocol known as IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) to log onto Outlook. Microsoft recently issued a “hotfix” patch that addresses this issue, among others. (“When you use an IMAP account to log on to Outlook 2010, the envelope icon does not show in the notification area. Additionally, no sound is played when you receive an email message.”) For more information and a link to the downloadable patch, see this page on Microsoft’s Support site: “Description of the Outlook 2010 hotfix package”. The link to the patch is toward the top of the page.

CAUTION: Be sure to discuss the situation with your IT department (if any) before downloading or attempting to install or run this patch or any other hotfix package that you locate on the Internet.

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