Creative Outlook alarms

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The famous American ‘Can Do’ spirit takes on a new meaning at Detroit Fire Stations.

Callouts to emergencies are sent to the fire stations by fax … yes, you read that right … fax.  And it gets worse …

When the fax arrives, paper comes out of the printer, hits a soda can with metal bits inside which topples over.  The noise tells the firemen to head for the truck.

Check the video to see for yourself. In the video it’s called a fax machine but it looks like a HP computer printer.

You could adapt the system to work with emails (which should be faster than fax) and Outlook.
Outlook - Create Rule for Fire

Outlook rules let you automatically alert when certain emails arrive.  A simple rule could check for a certain title and from a certain person/account.  The easiest way to make a rule is to select an incoming message of the type you want the rule to work for.  If necessary, ask the sender to send an example.

The above rule works just on the subject line but you could add the From address too.  These simple ‘Create Rule’ options are very specific and may not work if there’s any change to the incoming email.

The responses to a matching email can include:

  • A ‘New Item’ window pops up on the screen.
  • Make a sound.  Standard Outlook alert sounds are too short and could be overlooked. Sadly Outlook will only play .WAV files and play them once only.  You can’t directly control the volume.  One long-standing omission from Outlook is some form of loud, persistent alarm feature.  Some possible songs to play are “We didn’t start the Fire”  or “Burning down the house” by converting an MP3 file into a WAV file.

Choose ‘Advanced Options’ to add other rule responses in the Rules Wizard.

  • Printing the email.  Early versions of Outlook didn’t allow rule based printing but it’s been available for many Outlook versions. Only the default printer is used.
  • Display a desktop alert. The message appear in the top right of the screen on Windows 8 computers.

Outlook - Create Rule for Fire 2


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