Take control of notifications on OS X and organise them

Information - notifications

Notifications came to OS X on the Apple Mac a couple of generations ago and they have not changed much. This does not mean they cannot be changed and here are some tips for improving them.

The notifications panel is easily forgotten about and you need to make a point of opening it occasionally to see what is new. Some notifications that appear on the screen require you to click a button to dismiss them, but others disappear after a few seconds without any interaction.

If you are not looking at the screen when one of those automatically disappearing ones appears, you will miss it. You might be out at lunch or on a coffee break when they occur, so click the button in the top right corner of the screen to view the recent notifications.

To configure notifications, click the Apple menu and selecy System preferences. Click the Notifications icon.

System Preferences

At the top of the list on the left is Do Not Disturb. Select it and on the right you can choose when not to allow notifications to be displayed on the screen. Tick the three options because this is best for most people.

System Preferences - Notifications

You don't need notifications when you are asleep if it is a home computer or when you are not at work if it is a work computer. When the display is asleep (the screen is black), you can choose not to wake it and display notifications. Notifications can be hidden when mirroring to TVs and projectors, which usually means you are watching a movie or giving a presentation, or some similar activity that should not be disturbed.

Select each of the applications in the list and choose the alert style. Alerts stay on the screen until they are clicked with the mouse, but banners disappear automatically after a few seconds. For each app, choose the style. None is the option to choose if you want to prevent an app from showing notifications.

System Preferences - Notifications

Click the Notifications button in the top right corner of the screen to open the notifications panel. The order seems almost random and it is disorganised. At the bottom of Notifications in System Preferences, click the Notification Center sort order and select Recents by App.

System Preferences - Notifications

This collects notifications and places them under the title of the app that handles them. It makes it easier to find and read notifications.

Notification Center in OS X

The Noitification Center can be used with the keyboard. Open it and press the down arrow several times. A blue highlight moves with the up/down arrow keys and pressing Enter is the same as clicking an item. The associated application opens.

Notification Center in OS X

This is useful for people that like to keep their hands on the keyboard.

If you want to temporarily turn off notifications, hold down Option and click the Notification Center icon. It can also be disabled by opening Notification Center, selecting the Today tab, scrolling down and then switching Do Not Disturb on.

When notifications fill Notification Center some may be off the bottom of the screen. There does not appear to be any way to scroll the notifications panel using the keyboard or mouse. However, you can scroll it it you swipe up or down the trackpad with two fingers.

 

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