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How to turn off notifications on your Mac

MacOS notifications can be a real pain. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve been enjoying a movie on a Mac, deep in concentration while at work, or losing ourselves in our favorite song, only to be interrupted by an alert chime and a notification banner popping across the screen.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to turn off notifications on your Mac that not a lot of people actually know about. It involves the Notification Center, Apple’s hub for all things alerts and info. Now that the Dashboard has been scrapped in MacOS Catalina, this is the new home for useful widgets, too. Let’s see how it can give you fine-grained controls to turn off notifications on your Mac.

How to turn on Do Not Disturb manually

The easiest way to turn off Mac notifications is by using Do Not Disturb. This will mute notifications so you won’t see or hear them (although you can view them by opening the Notification Center). You can invoke this in a number of different ways.

Step 1: The easiest way to enable Do Not Disturb is to hold the Option key (labelled as Alt on some Macs) and click the Notification Center icon. It’s the far-right icon in the menu bar that looks like three lines stacked on top of each other.

Step 2: The Notification Center icon will turn from black to gray. This means Do Not Disturb has been turned on. It will remain on until midnight or until you turn it off.

Step 3: Alternatively, there’s another way to turn on Do Not Disturb. Swipe left from the right edge of the trackpad — this will bring across the Notification Center.

Step 4: Swipe downwards and two options will be revealed at the top of the Notification Center: Night Shift and Do Not Disturb.

Step 5: Click the dial next to Do Not Disturb to turn it on. As with the previous method, this will enable it until midnight or until you decide to switch it off.

Step 6: Finally, if neither of the two above methods take your fancy, you can create a custom keyboard shortcut. Open System Preferences and click Keyboard, then click the Shortcuts tab. In the left-hand column click Mission Control, then tick the checkbox next to Show Notification Center and enter your preferred shortcut. Close System Preferences when you’re finished.

How to schedule Do Not Disturb automatically

If you know you’ll be busy at set times during the day and don’t want notifications pestering you during this period, you can schedule Do Not Disturb to turn on automatically.

Step 1: Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen, then click System Preferences. Alternatively, click the System Preferences icon in the Dock; it looks like a set of gray cogs.

Step 2: From here, click Notifications.

Step 3: In the Notifications section, click Do Not Disturb at the top of the left-hand sidebar.

Step 4: There are several options here. You can have Do Not Disturb turn on at set times (for example, during your working hours if you use your Mac for your job), or when the display is sleeping and/or locked. You can also enable it when your Mac’s display is mirrored to TVs and projectors so you won’t be interrupted during a movie or presentation.

Step 5: If you want to allow people to call you while Do Not Disturb is enabled, click the checkbox next to Allow calls from everyone. You can also choose to only allow through repeated calls, just in case someone is trying to contact you with something urgent.

How to turn off notifications for a certain app

Do Not Disturb is useful, but it mutes notifications from every app on your Mac. If you only want to stop one or two apps from buzzing you, there’s a different method to use.

Step 1: Again, head into those same System Preferences and click Notifications.

Step 2: In the left-hand column, select the app whose notifications you want to block.

Step 3: Click the dial next to Allow Notifications from [app name] so that it moves to the left and turns gray. This means notifications are now blocked for this app.

Step 4: Alternatively, you can allow notifications from this app but hide them in the Notification Center so that they never intrude on your work. Under [App name] alert style, click None. Next, untick the checkboxes next to Show notification preview, Badge app icon and Play sound for notifications.

This will prevent you being disturbed by this app’s notifications, but will still allow you to catch up with them in the Notification Center when you’re less busy.

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