How to Change the New Mail Sound in Windows

For Outlook, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, and Outlook Express

Illustration of a new email on a computer screen

vladwel / iStock

All Windows sounds that you can change are customized through Control Panel, which means you can just as easily change the sound that your email client makes when a new message arrives.

In Windows 10, you can also change some sounds through the Notification Center, which you may have also heard called the "Action Center." Customizing these settings will determine if, what, and how many program notifications are served. 

Windows includes several built-in sounds that you can switch to, including ones used for other things in Windows, like Recycle, Restore, Shutdown, Startup, Unlock, etc. However, since those might not be what you're after when it comes to notifying you of a new email, you can even choose your own custom sound from any audio file you have.

Below are the steps necessary for choosing a custom sound for new mail in any of Microsoft's email clients, including Outlook, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, and Outlook Express.

How to Change the New Mail Sound in Windows

  1. Open Control Panel
    1. The quickest way in Windows 10 and Windows 8 is through the Power User Menu (press Windows Key+X or right-click the Start button). Other versions of Windows can find Control Panel in the Start menu.
  2. Switch to Large icons or Classic View and then open Sound or Sounds and Audio Devices, depending on the version of Windows you're using.
  3. Go into the Sounds tab.
  4. Scroll down to the New Mail Notification entry in the Program Events: area.
  5. Select a sound from the list of sounds at the bottom of that window, or use the Browse... button to use a custom sound.
  6. Sounds need to be in the WAV audio format but you can use a free audio file converter if you want to use an MP3 or some other audio format as the new mail sound in Windows.
  7. Click or tap OK to save the changes and exit the window. You can also close down Control Panel.


If you can't hear the new mail sound even after making the necessary change in Control Panel, it's possible that the email client has sounds turned off. Here's how to check that:

  1. Navigate to the File > Options menu.
  2. In the Mail tab, look for the Message arrival section, and make sure Play a sound is checked.

If you don't see that option, look instead in the Tools > Options menu, within the General tab, for the Play sound when new messages arrive option. Make sure it's checked.

Other email clients might use their own set of sounds to notify you of a new message, but some might actually utilize the sounds built-in to Windows. If so, you can adjust the new mail sound in those programs using the same steps shown above.

For example, in Mozilla Thunderbird, you can use the Tools > Options menu, and the General tab within that menu, to find the Play a sound setting. When Default system sound for new mail is selected, the program will play the sound chosen through the steps above. However, if you were to pick Thunderbird's Use the following sound file option, you could pick an entirely different sound to play when Thunderbird receives a new email.