Configure how long the ‘desktop alert’ stays on the screen

I was asked in the
comments on a previous entry
 if the desktop alert display interval could
be customized to longer than 30 seconds. The UI in Outlook 2003 (
| Options | Email Options | Desktop Alert Settings) limits you to 30 seconds, but
yes you can configure the interval to be longer using the following registry key:

DWORD: "TimeOn"

The decimal value is in milliseconds, and it's
additive on top of 3000 milliseconds. So for example, if you want a 4 second delay,
set it to 1000 milliseconds (3000 ms + 1000 ms = 4000 ms = 4 seconds). 
Make sure to select 'decimal' in the regedit UI. For a 60 second delay, the value
would be 57000 milliseconds.

Outlook does not need to be restarted after changing
this setting. If you set it > 30 seconds, the UI in the desktop alert settings
dialog will still display 30 seconds but the desktop alert will actually display the
appropriate length of time.

As always, be careful when mucking with the registry!

Comments (10)

  1. ML49448 says:

    I have a question along the lines of things to configure in Outlook:

    I have an HTML signature in which I include a link to an image file that lives on the external server. I would like Outlook to preserve this image as linked externally. Unfortunately, Outlook (at least in version 2003) insists on downloading the image and including it with the message. Is there any way to avoid this?


  2. Rick says:

    That TimeOn key is a cool tip, but how is it discoverable? That is, where is it in the KB? It would be so cool if these undocumented reg hacks (if it is indeed undocumented; KB searching has failed me before) were documented. Some obscure ones are, like Q823921, which is a very important one to me, but TimeOn doesn’t turn up.

    If we could make up our own keys and actually have Outlook obey them, I’d offer this one:


    This would tell Outlook not to expand all of my carefully arranged Inbox groups (Yesterday, Last Week, Two Weeks Ago, Three Weeks Ago, etc) because I already have them either expanded or contracted as I like. Change what is necessary (Today becomes Yesterday etc), but do not go down the entire list and expand every one!

    I guess I really should go to bed before midnight more often to avoid this, since it drives me absolutely batty at this point.

    Thanks for your great blog 🙂

  3. KC Lemson says:

    I can’t speak for the Outlook team here, but I suspect that they don’t document every single registry key setting in the KB because there’s a point of diminishing returns – how many end users would really want to configure each of these small settings, compared to the costs of writing and publishing all KB articles, not to mention the ease of use of finding those articles by users. For Exchange, if we get a few support calls where the solution is a setting that’s not publicly documented, there’s a process to make it publicly documented with the information from those cases; I believe Outlook has a similar process.

    If you want to know more about the ins and outs of outlook configuration, I recommend downloading the Office Resource Kit: This is what administrators use to configure end user’s clients at a fairly granular level. There are files shipped with the resource kit that go over all of the various registry keys and tweaks that can be set – that’s actually where I looked up the information about TimeOn in response to the question I got about it.

    In regard to views changing – I hear you. Views in Outlook are complex and I’ve heard many complaints about settings not sticking or working as expected. I’m not a real expert on that area, though, to offer many suggestions, I’d need to research it. For general information on how views work, is a good overview from OL2000, and I believe it all still applies in OL2003.

    I urge you to send any feedback on outlook to outwish AT microsoft DOT com, this reaches the Outlook team directly. As for the discoverability of that address: when you first configured Outlook 2003, it put a ‘welcome message’ in your inbox, and that welcome message is from outwish. A lot of customers reply to it and like I said, it goes right to the source.

  4. Daniel Briley says:

    Is there any way to make the alert stay on the screen permenantly until I actually click on it?

    Say if I come in, in the morning, sit at my computer, and I can instantly tell I have e-mail.

  5. Daniel Briley says:

    It’s just all my users on my network are used to the plain old message box that appeared with OL2002. They’ve become lazy 🙂

  6. KC Lemson says:

    Well you could try setting that reg key to a very very large amount, but I’m not sure how high it’s been tested.

    Plus, do your users really come in and ever *not* have email? That hasn’t happened to me in years 🙂

  7. gregc says:

    I set mine to 6,840,000 or almost 2 hours and it took that without whining about it.

  8. Nii says:


    Is there a way to add extra buttons to the desktop alert. Like reply.


  9. Roberto says:

    Here’s a quote from


    Here is a rule I created and it stays on screen until removed.

    Apply this rule after the message arrives

    on this machine only

    display Youhave mail!! in the New AItem Alert window


    hope it helps.

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