Take control of notifications on the Mac and banish unwanted ones
Like iOS on the iPhone and iPad, macOS supports notifications and it has a Notification Centre where it stores all events. However, not all notifications are useful. Here’s how to filter them.
Notifications are very useful on the iPhone and you can see and hear when there is a new Facebook message or post, when someone wants to make contact on LinkedIn, When there is a Twitter message and so on.
Notifications like these are not so useful on the Mac.
One reason for this is that some people don’t keep their Mac running on all the time. They might switch it on and use it for a few hours and then switch it off.
The next time you switch it on, it shows the notifications you missed, but by then they might be hours old or even from the previous day or week.
By the time you see a notification on the Mac, you probably read it hours ago on your phone, so it is old news.
Some notifications are trivial, such as those from apps. I use an app called Cyberduck and it fills Notification Center with notifications I have no interest in. I’ve seen them all in the app.
Unwanted notifications can be deleted by clicking the cross icon, but it is better to configure them not to appear in the first place. Sometimes notifications are supposed to be displayed, but they are not. There is help here if the Mail app is not showing notifications.
Configure notifications preferences
Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
Click Notifications and then select each app in turn.
Select None for the alert style if you don’t want to see any notifications at all.
If you want to see notifications, select Banners or Alerts. What is the difference? A banner appears on the screen in the upper right corner and then it automatically disappears after a few seconds. When an alert appears you must click a button to dismiss it.
There is a tick box to Show in Notification Center. Clear the tick box if you don’t want the notifications cluttering up the panel.
The Badge app icon setting is useful. The app icon in the dock has a little number on it that shows how many notifications there were. For example, the Mail app icon shows the number of unread emails.
Temporarily block notifications
If you not want to be disturbed by notifications appearing on the screen, they can be temporarily turned off. Click the Notification Center button at the right side of the menu bar to open it.
It is not obvious, but if you position the mouse in the middle of Notification Center and pull down on the trackpad with two fingers, a DO NOT DISTURB switch appears at the top.
Set quiet hours
To save you having to manually turn on and off notifications with the do not disturb feature, you can specify times of the day when notification are not to appear on the screen or make sounds.
Go to System Preferences, Notifications and select Do Not Disturb at the top of the list on the left. Tick the From box and set the times when notification are hidden.
Whether you hide notifications during the day while you are working or at night while you are sleeping is up to you.
Show or hide message previews
Mail and Messages have an extra option not in most other apps. When a new email or instant message arrives, a notification can be displayed. The question is, do you want a preview of the message to be displayed (sender and subject)?
This is a privacy issue and you might not want previews to always be displayed.
Select Mail and Messages, and use the tick box to choose whether previews are displayed. Use the menu on the right to choose whether previews are shown when the Mac is locked. It is up to you. Could someone read the message previews? Are you bothered?