For a long time, one of the universities where I work allowed its employees to access university email through IMAP or POP3, which meant that we weren’t restricted to using Outlook Web Access in the browser or desktop programs that were compatible with Exchange ActiveSync. Instead, we could use practically any email program that we wanted.
This was great for me, because I could use Gmail’s mail fetcher feature to retrieve email from the university’s server, and I could then use Gmail’s SMTP feature to send email from my university account using Gmail’s interface. This allowed me to combine both my personal and work email inboxes into a single, unified view – and also get notifications for new messages on my Chromebook or Android device, using the built-in Gmail apps.
Unfortunately, my university later decided to turn off IMAP and POP3 for off-campus users, which meant that Gmail could no longer retrieve my messages or send them on my behalf using the SMTP protocol. I complained to IT, but it fell on deaf ears – apparently, it was a security vulnerability to allow people off campus to access email using anything other than Exchange ActiveSync.
I could live with having two different email inboxes (even though I didn’t want to), and I could live with finally having to use the built-in Email app on my Android phone instead of the much nicer Gmail app, but one thing I could not live without was email notifications when working on my Chromebook. You see, I recently gave up Windows all together, and moved to Chrome OS full time. I can’t rely on my phone for university email notifications – I need them on my laptop, too.
Luckily, there’s a great Chrome extension that works on all versions of the Chrome browser, including Chrome OS. It’s called Outlook Web Access notifier, and it works perfectly. Simply download it from the Chrome Web Store at the link below, and plug in your credentials.
You’ll need the following info:
- Exchange web service address (usually the URL for where you mail is hosted, followed by /ews)
- Outlook web access address (usually the URL that appears when you’ve signed in to Outlook)
- Your domain and username (like this: domain\username)
- Your password
Once you’ve put in this info, you can determine whether or not you just want the extension to check for new messages in your inbox or in any folder. You can also add as many different accounts as you want.
Additionally, you can set to the second how often you want the extension to check for new messages (the default is every 10 seconds), and how long you want the popup notification to display (the default is 15 seconds). There’s a nice chime that’s not too alarming (some of those notification chimes are really annoying, but not this one), for which you can also set the volume. The only thing that’s really missing is the ability to set a custom chime, or the ability to see message previews in the notification popup.
Finally, this thing keeps me logged into my Outlook Web Access account, which is a nice touch. I’ve clicked the sign out button, only to be notified of a new message and logged in automatically when clicking the notification. Very cool.
Truth be told, I was pretty confident that something like this would not exist for the Chrome browser or Chrome OS. I’m so glad I’m wrong, as this is a fantastic little extension that I don’t think I’ll be able to live without, now that I know it exists. I am able to be notified of my new enterprise email almost instantaneously – this extension comes with two thumbs up from me!
To see how it works, check out the demo video below.
Download: Chrome Web Store