How to use Do Not Disturb on the Mac

Most of the time you want to be alerted when something happens on your Mac — when it's time for an appointment, say, or if you get an important e-mail, when the web sites you're interested in have new headlines to read, or when apps need your attention. But other times you want your Mac to stay quiet, and that's where Do Not Disturb comes into play. Here's how it works, how to activate it, and how to make it easier to use with a keyboard shortcut.

Do Not Disturb keeps your Mac from pinging you with banners or alerts that pop up on your screen. It also keeps notification sounds from playing, so your Mac will be quiet, too. You can set Do Not Disturb for specific times of day and for other criteria, as well.

To activate Do Not Disturb on your Mac

  1. Click on the Notification Center icon in the upper right hand corner of your Mac's menu bar.
  2. Scroll up.
  3. Set Do Not Disturb to On.

Notification Center Do Not Disturb toggle

You can also customize when and how Do Not Disturb will be activated.

How to customize Do Not Disturb settings on your Mac

  1. Click the menu.
  2. Select System Preferences....
  3. Click on Notifications.
  4. Do Not Disturb is the first setting at the top of the Notifications list.

Apple menu

Notifications system preference

Do Not Disturb preference

You can turn on Do Not Disturb during a specific time of day — for example, if you want your Mac to pipe down when you're asleep. If you give presentations using your Mac connected to a projector or external display, or frequently stream content from your Mac to an Apple TV, there's a setting to turn on Do Not Disturb automatically when that happens — which may save you some embarrassment and your viewers some distraction the next time you present.

You can also exclude FaceTime calls from Do Not Disturb, if you wish.

Did you know that can also turn Do Not Disturb on and off using a keyboard shortcut? It isn't mapped to a specific shortcut by default, but it's easy enough to add one. Here's how.

To map Do Not Disturb to a keyboard shortcut

  1. Click on the menu.
  2. Select **System Preferences...*
  3. Click on Keyboard.
  4. Click the Shortcuts tab.
  5. Select Mission Control, underneath Launchpad & Dock.
  6. Find Turn Do Not Disturb On/Off.
  7. Click where it says none.
  8. Type the shortcut key you'd like to use. You can use modifier keys like command, shift and option.

Apple menu

Keyboard system preference

Do Not Disturb keyboard shortcut preference

Do Not Disturb is a handy feature to use for those times when you want to get work done without any distraction at all, and Apple makes it really easy for you to activate. I hope this helps you tame your Mac's notifications for those times only when it's really important, so you feel a little less harried. If you have any questions, spring 'em on me in the comments!