How to Change the New Mail Sound in Apple Mail

Personalize the sound your Mac plays when new mail arrives

MacBook Pro Retina with OS X Yosemite

 Prykhodov / Getty Images

The Mail app in Mac OS X  and macOS announces new mail with a default sound. However, you can choose a different alert tone from a list in Mail's preferences, and the one you select plays each time a new message hits your inbox.

These instructions apply to Mac OS X Lion (10.7) and later.

How to Change the New Mail Sound in Apple Mail

To change the sound that plays when you receive a new message in Apple Mail:

  1. Open the Mail app.

  2. Select Mail > Preferences… in the Mail menu bar.

    The keyboard shortcut to open Preferences is Command+, (comma).

    Mail preferences
  3. Go to the General tab. 

    General Tab in Apple Mail
  4. In the drop-down menu next to New messages sound, select your favorite sound. The 14 options include Sosumi, Ping, Submarine, Tink, and other Apple favorites.

Other Mail Preferences

While you are in the Mail preferences screen, you may want to make a few other preference changes.

  • Check for new messages is set to Automatically by default, but you can use the drop-down menu to change the frequency to every 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or to manual retrieval.
  • Dock unread count displays the number of unread messages with a red number that is superimposed on the Mail icon in the Mac dock. The default is for the Inbox only, but you can change this setting to post a number for all email messages or only emails from the current day's date, or a few other more obscure options.
  • Downloads folder is preconfigured to place all downloaded files in the Downloads folder, accessible on the dock. However, you can change the download location to any place on your Mac.
  • Other options include a choice to add invitations to Calendar automatically, a setting to try sending your messages later if the outgoing service is unavailable, and the option to open messages in split view when in full screen.