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Some emails are more important than others. Rather than getting alerts every time an email arrives, configure Microsoft Outlook to only alert you when the important stuff hits your inbox, rather than any old email that can wait until you check your inbox.

If email alerts from Outlook are distracting you, the easiest thing to do is to turn them off. But what if you really need to know when an email arrives from your boss, a client, or someone else important to you?

RELATED: How to Only Get Notifications for Emails You Care About on Your iPhone

Microsoft Outlook lets you set up custom alert rules for specific email addresses or entire domains. We’ve covered rules in general previously, so have a quick look if you’ve never used them before.

When you set up a custom alert using a rule, it overrides the default alert permissions you’ve set up. If you’ve turned off all alerts in Outlook, you’ll still get an alert if you have a rule set up to do so.

RELATED: How to Get Notifications for Only the Emails You Care About in Gmail

Create a Rule for a Specific Person

To set up a custom alerting rule for a specific person, open Outlook and then find an email from someone for whom you want an alert. Right-click the email and select Rules > Create Rule.

The "Create Rule" option in the context menu.

Alternatively, select the email, and on the Home tab of the ribbon, click Rules > Create Rule.

The "Create Rule" option in the ribbon menu.

Switch on the checkbox next to the sender’s name and then choose “Display In The New Item Alert Window” and/or “Play A Selected Sound.”

The "Create Rule" window with the alert options highlighted.

If you choose “Play A Selected Sound,” then you’ll have to choose a sound file to play. Most people don’t keep a selection of .wav files to hand, so navigate to C:\Windows\Media (or /System/Library/Sounds/ if you’re using Outlook on a Mac) and choose the sound you want. You can use the play button in the “Create Rule” window to hear the sound before you confirm your choice.

The "Create Rule" window with the play button highlighted.

Click “OK” in the Create Rule window, and your rule is set. From now on, you’ll be alerted whenever you receive a message from that email address.

Create a Rule for a Whole Domain

If you want to be alerted when you receive an email from a particular domain, such as a specific client or your home email domain, you’ll need to set up a rule from scratch.

In the Home tab, click Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts.

The "Manage Rules & Alerts" menu option.

In the “Rules And Alerts” window, click “New Rule.”

The "New Rule" button.

Select “Apply Rule On Messages I Receive” and then click the “Next” button.

The "Apply rule on messages I receive" in the Rule Wizard.

Scroll down, select “With Specific Words In The Sender’s Address,” and then click the underlined “Specific Words” in the bottom panel.

The "with specific words in the sender's address" option in the Rules Wizard.

Add in the domain you want an alert for, click “Add” (you can add multiple domains if you want), and then click “OK.”

The "Search Text" panel.

The domain will have replaced “Specific Words.” Click “Next.”

The Rules Wizard showing the chosen domain.

Now, choose whether you want a sound played, an alert displayed, or both. If you choose a sound, you’ll have to click “A Sound” and chose the sound you want. Once that’s done, click “Finish.”

The alerting options in the Rules Wizard.

The rule will be visible in the “Rules And Alerts” list. Click “Apply” to turn it on.

The "Rules and Alerts" window.

From now on, whenever an email arrives from that domain, you’ll get the alert you chose.

Profile Photo for Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He's also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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