Stop Windows nagging you with messages you don’t want to see

Configure Windows notifications to be less annoying

Don't let your computer irritate you with pop-up messages

Windows can be helpful and it can display messages in the corner of the screen about maintenance, security, updates and other issues. Sometimes they are just plain irritating. You can turn them off.

There are several different types of notifications and messages and one is security. If Windows detects that you do not have antivirus software installed or it is not active, it will display a message on the screen. It can also display a message if it detects that a firewall is not active.

This is great and it is a useful feature, except when it is wrong. Sometimes third party antivirus software is installed and it is running, but for some reason Windows cannot tell. It keeps displaying messages about it not being installed or disabled, and it becomes irritating. You feel like shouting at the computer “It’s turned on, stupid!”

Actually, that is not a bad idea these days if you have Windows 10 because Cortana is always listening. Maybe she might hear you and stop displaying those messages.

The same thing can happen with a third party firewall and it might be installed and active, but you still get pop-up messages saying it isn’t.

Maintenance messages can also be displayed, such as “You have not backed up for three weeks,” or words to that effect. You might be backing up in a way that Windows cannot detect, or maybe you don’t make backups (you should). The message can be irritating.

Windows 10 and 8 also introduced new notifications and these can also be displayed on the screen. Apps installed from the Windows Store add to the plethora of messages. Agghhh!

Stop Security and Maintenance messages

  1. Click (Windows 7) or right click (Windows 10) the Start button and select Control Panel
  2. Set View by in the top right corner to Small icons
  3. Click Security and Maintenance
  4. Click Change security and maintenance settings

 Security and Maintenance in the Windows Control Panel

There are 19 message types listed here and using the tick boxes you can choose which ones you want to see. If you have virus protection, but Windows can’t detect it, you can turn off those messages. If you never use Storage Spaces or Work Folders, you can turn off those messages. If you have your own backups, turn off messages about Windows backup.

It is up to you to choose the messages you want to see and those you want to hide.

Stop Windows 10 notifications

  1. Hold down the Windows key and press I to open the Settings app
  2. Click System and then select Notifications and actions on the left

 Windows 10 notifications settings

Near the top is a Notifications section with different categories of messages. Do you need to see tips about Windows? Turn them off if you don’t.

There are options to show notifications on the lock screen and whether you allow these depends on who might see them. If your computer is in a public place or an office, you might prefer not to show notifications when the computer is locked (press Windows+L to instantly lock it, such as when going for coffee, lunch or to chat over the water cooler).

Leave Show app notifications turned on. Why? Some are useful.

Scroll down a bit and there is a large section titled Show notifications from these apps. Notifications from Calendar about appointments are important, for example. Mail notifications are useful too. Leave them turned on.

 Windows 10 notifications settings

Some apps have unimportant notifications, such as those from games. Look at each app in the list and use the switch to turn notifications on or off as you prefer.

Sounds and banners

There are different ways in which you can be notified. For example, a sound can be played when something important happens, such as new mail arriving in your inbox. A banner can be displayed that shows a notification message in a pop-up message box.

Notifications can also appear in Action Centre, which is the panel that slides out from the right side of the screen when the last icon at the right side of the taskbar is clicked.

Click each of the apps with notifications enabled to configure the options. Here is Mail.

 App notifications in Windows 10 settings

You can choose to show banners, play sounds or be silent, show or hide in Action Centre, and keep notifications private on the lock screen. There are no recommended settings and it is up to you to choose what is best for you.


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