How do I turn off email reminders for my Windows Live calendar, and disable the birthday calendar while I’m at it?

While having lunch with my colleagues a few days ago, they complained that they get annoying email for all their calendar events.

I mentioned, "So turn off the email notifications."

"You can do that?" they replied, incredulous.

Here's how you do it.

First, go to and sign in to your calendar.

In the upper right corner of the screen, click on the gear icon.

Sven Svensson

From the drop-down menu, select Options. From the Options page, select the calendar you want to change.

Edit your reminder and calendar settings
  Sven's calendar
  Birthday calendar

In the Calendar settings, untick the checkboxes.

Email notifications
Get reminders for events and tasks
Get daily agenda

And then click Save to save your changes.

My colleagues also noted "It used to mean something when somebody remembered your birthday. But now, everybody gets a notification on your birthday, and you get birthday wishes from random people you haven't talked to in years." Which led to the next complaint, "I just want to turn off the birthday calendar."

No problem. Go back and click on the gear icon, and instead of selecting Options, look under Filter Calendars and untick the check box next to Birthday calendar.

If you have a Windows Phone, you can remove it from your phone calendar by opening the Calendar app, opening the appbar, selecting settings, and then unticking the check box next to Birthday calendar.

Comments (12)
  1. alegr1 says:

    The question should have been: "Why these were turned on behind our backs?"

  2. DWalker says:

    It's amazing that programmers (I'm assuming that, since they were colleagues of Raymond's) didn't ask a search engine if they could turn off e-mail notifications.  Yet I have seen that often.  There are smart people who don't think about searching the Web for solutions to common complaints they have!

  3. @alegr1 says:

    I've been using Windows Phone since 7.5, the emails were enabled by default then (and I assume probably always), I didn't think it was that big of a deal to click the link at the bottom of every email they send out to disable them if you wanted to… You can also setup an Outlook "Sweeper" in the web client to clean them up after a week which is pretty slick.

  4. Eddie says:


    Because the defaults are not designed for power users, they are designed for grandma (not the literal grandma but the typical user who is non-technical).

    Grandma doesn't know that you can turn on reminders for birthdays.  Grandma isn't going to know to ask if it is possible.  Grandma just accepts the technology for what it is.

    With features on by default Grandma sees what is possible.  Being on by default can motivate Grandma to inquire how to turn it off (if desired), where as if features are off by default and the software sits idle then there is nothing motivating Grandma to ask questions.  Remember, Grandma just accepts the technology as is.

  5. alegr1 says:

    @eddie: The email reminder should be a checkbox when you enter the birthday.

    [Um, you never entered the birthday. Your contact added it to their profile. Or are you suggesting that when you add a new contact, a confirmation dialog appear that says "Do you want a reminder on your new contact's birthday? (If your contact doesn't make his or her birthday public, this setting has no effect, but it will take effect should the contact choose to make his or her birthday public in the future.)" -Raymond]
  6. Bruno&Boots says:

    @Raymond: What profile? If a birthday is set for one of my contacts, it means I set it explicitly. Even if I did use FaceBook, I would never sync it to my contacts list/calendar. But yes, your solution is a good one.

    [I like how my attempt to create the most annoying dialog box imaginable was met with "Yes, that's a good solution." -Raymond]
  7. Dave Bacher says:

    It isn't like doesn't tell you how to turn them off:


    When:  Monday, July 7, 2014

    Send an email

    View contact profile

    Edit birthday

    Stop getting notifications


    Tap "Stop getting notifications."

    Tap "Get reminders for events and tasks"

    Tap "Save."

    I honestly don't see how that could be any more blatantly obvious.

  8. Entegy says:

    @Bruno&Boots: The birthday calendar is automatically generated by your contacts' data, either manually or from social networks. It's fine you don't care for Facebook, but Raymond was referring to the general service, where the birthday of a contact may or may not have been set by you.

    The calendar service looks at your contact data and generates the birthday calendar, but it doesn't go the other way. The contacts service does not touch the calendar. There's no need to, the calendar takes care of itself. The reminders are all or nothing.

    And if you don't want the birthday calendar at all, you can just remove the calendar from your Microsoft account completely. Problem solved. Instead of just filtering it out, go back to Options, click Birthday Calendar, then click Delete. When this is done, there is always a "Birthday Calendar" option in the Calendar's New menu. Making a new birthday calendar regenerates the calendar automatically from your contact data. Useful for troubleshooting the birthday calendar.

  9. humangenom says:


    > [I like how my attempt to create the most annoying dialog box imaginable was met with "Yes, that's a good solution." -Raymond]

    Perhaps that's the reason why W8 is not so good. Microsoft thinks about how to make the stupidest Windows ever but all the people want to have a bit more control about what's going on.

    [The article shows how to exercise control. I assumed you were complaining that the control was hard to find, not that it doesn't exist. -Raymond]
  10. gedoe says:

    So I guess its your birthday today (or are you hiding behind the Raymond T Chen on Wikipedia :-) )

  11. cheong00 says:

    I hope I could get the correct calendar on my WinPhone 8.1. It correctly gets Hong Kong weather information but chosen to get the Taiwan Holiday list instead of Hong Kong one. I can add that back myself on live calendar but no option is given on WinPhone Calendar App. That's not very helpful.

  12. cheong00 says:

    Update: Opps. Now I found that my WinPhone Calendar synced with the live calendar and shows Hong Kong holiday. Apparently it takes some time. :)

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