How to Change the New Mail Sound in Mac OS X and macOS Mail

Personalize the sound your Mac plays when new mail arrives

MacBook Pro Retina with OS X Yosemite

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The Mail app in Mac OS X and macOS announces new mail with a default sound entitled—imaginatively—New Messages Sound. However, you choose a different sound from a list in Mail's preferences, and the sound you select plays each time you receive a new email.

Change the New Mail Sound in Mac OS X and macOS Mail

To set a new mail sound in Mac OS X and macOS Mail to personalize your Mac:

  1. Open the Mail app.
  2. Select Mail > Preferences… in the Mail menu bar.
  3. Go to the General tab. 
  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.