OS X Mail not showing notifications

Two things should happen when certain events occur, such as a calendar appointment, instant message or a new email.

One is that the event should be added to Notification Center and the other is a pop-up notification in the top right corner of the screen. Unfortunately, this does not happen for some people with the Mail app on the Apple Mac. Why?

This problem has existed on my Mac since, well, for as long as notifications have been around. I mostly ignore Notification Center in OS X because it doesn’t do anything useful. It is a nice idea and I love notifications on phones and tablets, but they just don’t seem to work anywhere near as well on my Mac.

I spent another couple of hours trying to get to the bottom of Mail notifications the other day. I found a solution, but you won’t like it.

Configure notifications for Mail

The idea is straightforward and when a new email message arrives, it should display in a pop-up box in the top right corner of the screen. Go to the Apple menu, System Preferences, Notifications. Select the Mail app on the left and tick all the options on the right. Choose either Banners (these disappear by themselves after a few seconds on the screen) or Alerts (you have to click a button to close the pop-up).

Mail notifications

Mail has to be running in order to see notifications, which is an irritation and it would be much better if you were always notified, whether it was running or not. Unless you either set it to load on startup or manually start it and minimise it, you won’t see any notifications.

When an email arrives, you can immediately see it in the notification. What’s more, you can click it to send a reply.

That’s great, when it works. The only trouble is that it does not work for me. I tried everything I could think of, turning notifications off then back on, changing the settings, taking Mail out of Notifications, putting it back in, having Mail running, not running, and so on. Nothing seemed to make a difference, apart from one odd thing.

Mai notifications in OS X

I have three email accounts in Mail - iCloud, Google and Yahoo!. Emails sent to each of these are received in Mail, but no notifications appear on the screen. (They do appear on my iPhone on the desk next to me though, so Apple does know how to do notifications in iOS, just not OS X.)

Mail notifications solved

Now here is the solution, the one you are not going to like. If I select the Google mailbox on the left, click the gear icon at the bottom, there is an option to take the account offline. Repeat this with the Yahoo! account so that only iCloud email is online. Magically notifications work perfectly.

Take Mail account offline in OS X

Bring Google and Yahoo back online and notifications stop. Take them offline and notifications start again. It seems quite clear that notifications in Mail only work when you have one email account. I don’t know whether there is something special about Google and Yahoo! or whether any additional email accounts stop notifications. Perhaps someone else can try it.

The bottom line is that Mail notifications just don’t work with multiple email accounts.






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