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Converting or Creating Sound Sets for Entourage 2008

The new Entourage 2008 has changed the way that custom sound sets (for the new mail sound, sending mail, etc) are stored. The old style, from Entourage 2004 and earlier, packaged up all the sounds as 'snd' resources in a single file. If you've come to the Mac OS platform in the last decade you're probably wondering what a 'resource' is, and it's understandable, because that's just not the way things are done anymore and it's getting harder and harder to even find applications to deal with resources, especially now that Leopard has killed off Classic mode.

But the good news is that the new format makes it really easy to throw together a sound set, and it's not terribly difficult to convert an old Entourage sound set.

Much more than you ever wanted to know, after the jump...

Converting an old sound set

To convert an old-style Entourage sound set, you've first got to get the six sounds out of the single file. If you've still got a machine that can run Classic, you could use ResEdit to export the resources, but I found that FIle Juicer ($18 shareware with a fully-functional free trial) worked easiest. Drag your sound set file onto File Juicer's main window and you'll have a folder created on your Desktop with the name '[SoundSetName] Juice'. Inside that folder is a 'sfil' folder with 12 files in it -- the six sounds as .sfil files and as .mov files. File Juicer provides an Automator action that uses iTunes to convert the sounds to AIFF, or if you have QuickTime Pro you can just open the six .mov files and use Export » Sound to AIFF to get six AIFF files. At this point, you're ready to move on the same as if you were starting from scratch ... (See below for an updated warning about the size of those AIFF files.)

Creating a new sound set

The first step in creating a new sound set is to assemble your six sounds -- New Mail, Sent Mail, No Mail, Mail Error, Reminder, and Welcome -- either by converting an old sound set (see above), recording new sounds, or choosing sounds from one of the millions of sound resources available on the net. Entourage 2008 will evidently play anything that QuickTime can, so the sound files can be AIFFs, WAVs, MP3s, etc. Also, they don't have to be named to reflect what event they'll represent, so you can leave them named "swoosh.wav" and "doh.aif" or what have you.

Update: One important warning, here. "subgrav" points out in the comments that the files each need to under 1 MB. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation gives me that a WAV or AIFF over 8 seconds or so would be over a megabyte, so if you're using longer sound bites you'll need to convert them to a compressed format like MP3 or AAC, which you can do with iTunes.

Create a new folder and name it 'MySoundSet.eragesoundset' -- the first part of the name is just for your benefit, so name it as you like, but the '.eragesoundset' part is important. Put the six sound files inside.

Now use the Property List Editor (if you have the Developer Tools installed) or any text editor to create a text file inside the folder called 'soundset.plist'. It needs 9 keys:

  • SoundSetFileFormatVersion (integer) - must be 0.
  • SoundSetUserString (string) - String to display in the prefs dialog.
  • SoundSetURL (string) - Clickable URL to display in the prefs dialog.
  • SoundFile_MailError (string) - Name (including extension) of the sound file to play for the Mail Error event.
  • SoundFile_MailSent (string) - Name (including extension) of the sound file to play for the Mail Sent event.
  • SoundFile_NewMail (string) - Name (including extension) of the sound file to play for the New Mail event.
  • SoundFile_NoMail (string) - Name (including extension) of the sound file to play for the No Mail event.
  • SoundFile_Reminder (string) - Name (including extension) of the sound file to play for the Reminder event.
  • SoundFile_Welcome (string) - Name (including extension) of the sound file to play for the Welcome event.

So here's an example for the Microsoft Sound Set that was included with Entourage 2004 but not with 2008:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
	<string>Microsoft Sound Set</string>
	<string>Sent Mail.aif</string>
	<string>New Mail.aif</string>
	<string>No Mail.aif</string>

(Watch out copy-and-pasting the above -- the line '<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">' should all be one line with no line break.)

Then just move that whole folder into [Your Home Folder]/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Entourage Sound Sets/. In my tests, the sound sets would then immediately show up in the Entourage Preferences (under Notification) but your mileage may vary and you may need to quit and relaunch Entourage.

As I said above, the Microsoft Sound Set sound set from Entourage 2004 was not included in 2008, so I've converted it and it's a great example set to see how this simple format works. Download a 500 KB zip file here. (Hopefully they won't mind since it's a sound set they used to include, and I figure it's more legal than using, say, a bunch of Simpsons sounds for my example.)

All my information on the structure of the Entourage 2008 sound set format comes from an Ars Technica forum post by Erik Schwiebert of the Microsoft Mac Business Unit.


Thank you so much, great work!

Many thanks Fuzzy! I was dying for this.


Fuzzy you are my hero.

big kiss

brilliant, so much fun!!

sadly, doesn't work for me in '08 - recognizes the sound set but all sounds stop working after first being OK (so same problem as with the default sound set). Nice try though!

@Sey - That seems to be a known bug.

Thanks Fuzzy!

Just what the doctor odered.

And, indeed, the 12.0.1 update has fixed the audio problem.

Grand merci floue!
J'AI REUSSI, ça marche !!!

Grand merci floue!
J'AI REUSSI, ça marche !!!


I created my own sound using original soundset.plist! Name folder according to your needs or wishes, copy soundset.plist inside this folder, and use any audio editor (like Amadeus Pro) to create AIF files. Create six separate files with names "Welcome", "New Mail", etc. Put ALL files in newly named folder (~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Entourage Sound Sets/"Your" folder), restart Entourage 2008 - and VOILA!
Thank you Fuzzy!

i need help !!! i tried with, but no go on german entourage 12.1.1 version. after that i tried with --your -> 500 KB zip-- file here", but also no go. any idea what i can do ? thanks in advance madedd

i found another solution:
do a show package content on: Microsoft Office 2008/Office/EntourageCore.framework/Versions/12/Resources/ an replace existing .wav files with our own -> but keep thame names! works now on my german version

Can also use the free ExpressionX program to extract sounds from existing Entourage X/2004 soundsets, which can then be converted to this new format.


I added your link to the Using Soundsets with Entourage on the Entourage Help Page.

Brilliant! THANK YOU for the concise, clear explanation. I'm back in business!

Grrr. This worked beautifully before and now for some reason Entourage 2008
is telling me "unable to open sound set". I have a "template sound set"
that DOES open, which I created according to these instructions. But the
sound set I actually want to use won't let me use certain sounds. I've
tried setting file permissions and ownership exactly as with the template,
and even tried using exactly the same file names (with different files) but
it does not work.

I've used all of the tools, even downloaded the ZIP file. I was able to make the 2004 sound file work but creating a custom folder has failed miserably. Entourage sees the folder exists but says it is unable to open it.
I used the Property List Editor and even tried to just edit the soundset.plist in the example you created but now matter what method I used I could only get as far as being able to see the folder in the pull down menu but Entourage said it couldn't open it. I renamed all of my alert sounds to match the strings/keys as a first cut thinking that would be simple. I guess not. Any suggestions?

just to report -- i was able to get this working by converting all my .wav files to .aif and renaming them in the plist accordingly. who knows why since one set with only .wav works just fine. but there u have it.

Two minutes, works perfectly using your download file. Thanks loads!

I made a set with some sounds that I recorded myself and converted them to .aif and made sure that al of the names were the exact same and it doesn't work. when i relaunch entourage 2008 and go to the notification preferences and change it to mine, it plays the default error sound and goes to the default sound set. any suggestions?

Just a tip for who's having problems. I was too, but then I downloaded Fuzzy's 2004 Entourage example and just replaced the names with my files' and now it's working fine.

Hope it helps!

Thanks fuzzy

I followed the instructions that you gave and in fact used the exact same plist that you have but couldn't get the sound set to work. Wondering if anybody has any other clues. The sound files I have are a little larger than most but 2004 played them no problem.

Is there some sort of size limit on the sound file? I can get some sound files to work but not others. I noticed that the smaller files seem to work more often.

My sounds in entorauge 2008 have stopped working. I have tried adjusting I think it was the output levels and found that it was still at 41xxx and not 48xxx. I have attempted to read and understand this helpful information but it makes no sense at all how to get off the old sound set and put a new one on! Please have you a little time to help asap?

Thank you kindly!

I have followed your instructions to the letter but Entourage 2008 displays my new soundset in prefs but when I select it, it instantly reverts back to the default set. Any ideas what's wrong?

I replaced the sound files in the 2004 set with my new ones and all work except the Welcome sound - yet they are all encoded the same! aif 48hz WTF?

People like yourself, who go out of their way to help others, are a gem.

Many thanks for this.

To answer a query above, as I found out, there is a size limit to the files. I found that they have to be less than 1Mb in size to work. Otherwise Entourage kicks it back.
Hope this helps others who got as frustrated as I did.

Thanks for the great tutorial!!

I tried this and can see the new list, but entourage immediately defaults to its own default tones that dont work. I am beyond frustrated.

I can't thank you enough for this. The main reason I stayed with 2004 was the soundset issue. Brilliant.

An FYI: My sound files had an aiff extension which Entourage doesn't like, hence a failure on first try. I renamed them using the aif extension and all is well.

Got more sets to create (thank me that I saved all my original aif files).

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sparing me from that unbearable default "sound set" (don't know why they call it a set since there is only one...).
You're a real gem.
Thank you.

I am using Entourage 2008. I made a folder with the eragesoundset extension. Installed it in folder Entourage Sound Sets. Copied your zip file and placed it with the 6 wav files. I edited the soundset.plist extensions from .aif to .wav. The play list folded shows up in Preferences but I get an error"Unable to open Sound Set The default will be used instead. Please help.

Thank you.

Well done man, I was so pissed when I realised there was only one sound set. I've installed the Microsoft set you made available for download as that is the set I was using with 2004.

But now I've learnt how to make my own sounds I will be doing that. Why not when I have my own studio.

Thanks so much dude...Peace

Perfect, thx fuzzy, the demo was great timesaver for creating own. cheers,

Thanks Fuzzy - the 2004 sound set is so much nicer than the 2008!! I'd grown to loathe the new mail sound!!!!!!

Thank you so much!!! I've been wanting to do this for awhile. Only thing I can honestly say that windoze does better; they do make it much easier to customize sounds.

Doesn't work. I have the same problem as Peter. Modelled everything exactly as the zip file, even converted the sounds to .aif. The folder appears in Entourage but when I select it I get "Unable to open Sound Set The default will be used instead".

What did I do wrong?

Took me a while but finally have my prefered sounds again in outlook! Thanks so much for your help!

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