Show or hide Chrome's menu bar notification icon

If you use the latest version of Chrome for browsing the web on your Apple iMac or MacBook, you will have noticed a new icon in the menu bar, a bell icon which is used to access notifications and Google Now. When Chrome is running, and it doesn't have to be on the screen, it can be minimised, clicking this icon will display a notifications panel that is similar to what you would see on an Android phone. Is it useful? Do you need it? Would you like to remove it? The controls for hiding it are hidden.

If you click the notification icon in the menu bar, you will see a display something like this:

Chrome notifications

Whether this is useful depends on lots of variables, such as whether you are travelling with a MacBook or are sitting at the home or office iMac that never moves. This particular screenshot isn't useful as I know how far from home I am and I can look out of the window to see what the weather is like. Some people think Google now is wonderful, but it isn't for everyone.

So how do you remove this unwanted item from the menu bar? It is far from obvious and you have to open a Chrome browser window and enter chrome://flags into the address box. This displays a long list of hidden internal settings that are not normally visible, even if you go to Settings on the menu. Not even in the Advanced section. This is the super-advanced settings section.

Look down the list of settings until you come to Google Now. Click the button and there are three options, Default, Enabled and Disabled. Setting it to Disabled is one part of the process of hiding the menu bar icon and drop-down panel.

Google Now Chrome settings

Scroll a bit further down the list of settings and look for Notification Center behaviour Mac. It is set to Default, but there is an option to Never show, Always show, or Only show if there are outstanding notifications. Choose Never show if you want Chrome to be quiet.

Google Chrome Notification Center

That's it. Just close the tab, close Chrome and start it again. This time there won't be a notification icon added to the menu bar. If you prefer it this way, then fine, but if you would like to put things back the way they were, return to chrome://flags and click the button, Reset all to default. Restart Chrome afterwards and the menu bar item comes back.

Chrome reset settings

There is no right or wrong setting here, and no best setting. It is all down to personal choice. Some people will love the new notifications, but others will find that it doesn't do much to enhance their work or leisure activity. At least you now know how to turn it off and on.

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