There is a way to change back to old-style Outlook notifications but it’s convoluted because Microsoft hid it so well. We explain how to work around those restrictions.
At some point in the not too distant past, Microsoft decided to move Outlook incoming mail notifications to the Windows 10 notification system. In the past iteration, Outlook handled incoming notifications itself, displaying the messages in a small rectangular box that allowed you to delete, flag, or open the email. Now, email notifications for Outlook are displayed in the Windows 10 flyout notification screen, intermingled with notifications from other applications.
While the Windows 10 flyout notification screen works well enough, many users would prefer to go back to the old-style Outlook-controlled notification method. Unfortunately, that method is no longer a part of the standard system settings. However, there is a way to change back to the old-style, but it’s convoluted and clunky.
This how-to tutorial explains how to enable the old-style incoming email notification method in the current version of Outlook and Windows 10.
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How to enable old-style Outlook notifications in Windows 10
The current notification system for Outlook and other applications can be found in the Windows 10 Settings menu (Figure A). Click the Start Menu button, select the gear icon for Settings, then select System from the menu. Click the Notifications & Actions item from the left-hand navigation bar.
Personally, I turn off the entire Windows 10 notification system and leave it off, but you may leave it on if you want. The Windows 10 notification system will not affect what we are about to change.
The simple answer to enabling the old-style Outlook notification system is to run Outlook in Windows 7 compatibility mode. However, when you examine the properties of the application file (OUTLOOK.EXE), there is no option for a compatibility mode. Microsoft has disabled it, so we have to use an odd work-around.
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Since we will be changing how it runs, close Outlook before you start, then open File Explorer and navigate to this directory:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16
Scroll down the list of folders and files until you reach OUTLOOK.EXE, as shown in Figure B.
For most other applications, we would right-click OUTLOOK.EXE and select Properties from the menu to get to the compatibility tab, but that won’t work—we have to work around it.
Right-click OUTLOOK.EXE and select Troubleshoot Compatibility from the context menu. Windows 10 will try to diagnose the application and then display the message shown in Figure C.
Choose the second option (Troubleshoot Program) so the system will grant you permission to make compatibility changes yourself instead of what it recommends.
The next screen (Figure D) will display a list of troubleshooting options.
Select the first item in the list: “The program worked in earlier versions of Windows but won’t install or run now.” Click the Next button to reach the screen displayed in Figure E.
Select the Windows 7 option and then click the Next button.
You have to test the program, because the Troubleshooting app will not allow you to continue until you do. Outlook should run in Windows 7 compatibility mode without a problem, only now notifications for incoming email will be handled by Outlook using the old style.
Click the Next button and lock in the change on the next screen (Figure F) by clicking the “Yes, save these settings for this program” option.
The Troubleshooting app will generate a report for Microsoft, then you can close it to finish the process.
This compatibility change can be accomplished with a specific tweak to the Windows Registry File, but it is even more complex than the method described above, so we will ignore it.
To change back to the current notification style, run the Troubleshoot compatibility application on OUTLOOK.EXE again and change the compatibility setting to Windows 8 or 10.
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