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I have Outlook set up so that, theoretically, my messages should be marked as read as soon as I actually see them in the reading pane. To do that, I just set the rule so that messages are automatically marked as read after 0 seconds.

This scheme works for the most part, except when a new message arrives and I have an empty inbox. In that case, even if I have Outlook minimized, it seems that Outlook automatically displays the new message in the reading pane and marks it as read right away. Unfortunately, since Outlook is minimized, I never even get a notification about a new message and don't notice it until I open up Outlook again.

To get around the issue, I always keep a "dummy" message in my inbox, even when it's empty, so that Outlook won't automatically select new incoming messages. However, I'd like to find a better solution. The overall goal here is that I want my messages to be marked as read at the exact moment that I see them in the reading pane: no sooner, and no later. Does anyone have advice on how I can do that?

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You can set up new mail alerts utilizing the New Item Alert window. This window is a bit heavier weight than the Desktop Alert that flashes on the bottom right of your Desktop by default. It will maintain a list of received emails since the last time you dismissed the dialog, and the list is clickable so you can jump to the messages you want to read quickly.

You can create this rule by going to Tools/Rules and Alerts. Select New Rule... and follow the path that will allow you to show the New Item Alert 'after the message arrives' with no conditions or exceptions (there will be a click through asking if you really want to apply this to all messages). Unfortunately, there is no condition to apply this only when the app is minimized.

Though this solution does not fulfil the goal of not marking messages read until you read them, it will solve the issue of not being alerted to new messages while your Outlook is minimized.

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Wouldn't one second later be just as good?

This will give Outlook the time necessary to display the new message notification.

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But (I think) the envelope that displays in the notification area would disappear after one second. Sometimes I'm looking at another monitor, or something on my desk, or whatever, and I miss the pop-up/toast notification, so I rely on that envelope being there to let me know about new messages. – Jonathan Schuster Oct 13 '09 at 13:35
Well, wouldn't 10 seconds later be just as good? – harrymc Oct 13 '09 at 13:59

Please check whether any rules are there in 'manage rules and alerts' option. If any rule is showing errors, this might happen. Clear all the rules and restart outlook.


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