How to enable and disable notification banners on the Mac

OS X's Notification Center puts you in touch with what's happening on your Mac and elsewhere in the world — displaying banners, alerts, badge notifications and lock screen notifications to let you know what's going on. Notification banners — those little bubbles of information that appear in the upper right corner of your screen — can be helpful but they can also be distracting, so here's how you can turn them off.

How to change notification banner behavior on the Mac

  1. Click on the menu.
  2. Select System Preferences....
  3. Click on Notifications.
  4. Click on the app whose behavior you'd like to change. Any app capable of posting notifications will be listed.
  5. Each app will have an "alert style" listed at the top. You can turn them off all together by changing the alert style to "None." If you'd like them to stay on screen until you click on them to dismiss them, click on "Alerts."

System preferences



Conversely, if there are apps you'd like to see notifications from that are currently turned off, just set the alert style from "None" to whatever you'd prefer.

Most apps will have their Alert Style set to Banners by default.

And like other aspects of notifications we've discussed before, Notification Center doesn't have a global setting for Banners, so there's no way to enforce a default behavior for newly installed applications, nor is there a way to change all notification behavior at once.

By tweaking banner notifications, you can quiet down chatty apps that grab your attention too frequently, and you can also make sure that apps that carry vital information get the attention they're due.

Have any questions? Let me know.

Peter Cohen
  • Good to know, but really don't mind them at all.
  • Don't mind them popping up, but hate their location. Been plenty of times where I go to click a browser tab in the upper right hand corner just to have it blocked by a notification. The "hover and swipe right with two fingers" trick has eased the issue, but I would pay many dollar bills to be able to move all notifications to either of the bottom corners.
  • I'm glad you mentioned the "no way to set a default behavior" aspect of this... In fact, this is my main complaint with the current notification center. Apps don't always tell you upon install that they make use of these notifications. Plus, the actual default behavior turns EVERYTHING on -- including "show on lock screen". The lock screen behavior is the most frustrating, because I lock my screen via a key combo everytime I walk away from my laptop out of habit... But with things like Messages, Twitter, and Facebook using these notifications, I could end up with tons of personal messages sitting there viewable on my lockscreen. This is unacceptable, especially in a professional environment. I'm thankful that I found how to change these settings early on, but I feel bad for less-techy types who struggle to find out how to turn this behavior off.