New to Mac? How to view, pause and stop notifications on Mac

System Preferences Notifications FT Mac

Notifications are handy for event, email, and obviously, phone call alerts. But not all notifications are as important. For instance, you may not want to be bothered with an alert from the Books or the Photos app.

If you’re a new Mac user, knowing how to handle your notifications so that they are useful is important to your Mac experience. And we’re here to help. Here’s how to view, pause, customize, and turn off your notifications.

Viewing notifications on Mac

The first type of notification you might see is a small pop-up in the corner of the screen. This is either a Banner or an Alert. A Banner will appear briefly and then disappear while an Alert will remain there until you dismiss it. Click either a Banner or an Alert to view the item attached to the notification.

Mail Alert on Mac

Another type of notification is one in your Notification Center. This area keeps all of your alerts tucked away until you want to see them. When you’re ready, just click the Notification Center icon on the top right of the menu bar and select Notifications at the top.

Notification Center Emails Mac

Snoozing notifications

Some notifications that pop up on your screen give you an option to snooze. This is helpful if you want to dismiss the alert immediately but have it notify you again later.

Calendar Event Alert on Mac

You can click the Snooze button so that you’re reminded again in 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can choose a different timeframe for the snooze and we have a short tutorial to show you the options for that.

Pausing notifications

Maybe you’re going to watch a movie or play a game on your Mac and want to temporarily pause your notifications. You can enter Do Not Disturb mode easily. Click the Notification Center icon in your menu bar, swipe down slightly, and enable Do Not Disturb.

Notification Center Enable Do Not Disturb Mac

This will pause your notifications from interrupting what you’re doing, but still hold them in the Notification Center for you to view later.

Do Not Disturb will stay on until midnight, a scheduled time you’ve set, or until you turn it off.

Managing notifications

If you own an iPhone or iPad in addition to a Mac, then you’ll be happy to know that you can customize your notifications the same way with badges, banners, and sounds. If your Mac is your only Apple device, then here’s how to manage your notifications.

1) Open System Preferences with the icon in your Dock or Apple icon > System Preferences from your menu bar.

2) Click Notifications.

3) You’ll see a list of apps on the left that offer notifications and the options for those alerts on the right. You can choose to:

  • Disable all notifications for the app by turning off the toggle.
  • Select an alert style from None, Banner, or Alerts.
  • Customize the options for where/how to show the notification, if you want a badge app icon, and if you’d like to hear a sound.

As you can see, the settings are quite flexible for each app’s notifications. This lets you tailor them in a way that works best for you.

4) At the bottom of the Notifications Preferences, you can choose an option for the Notification Center sort order if you like, from Recents, Recents by App, or Manually by App. We also have a helpful how-to that goes into this further.

System Preferences Notifications FT Mac

When you finish, simply close the Notifications Preferences window.

Wrapping it up

Some notifications are necessary like for Calendar alerts and Facetime calls while others aren’t really needed like alerts for Pages or Numbers. But with macOS, you can tailor your notifications exactly as you like.

For other articles in our New to Mac series, check out how to use Split View on your MacBook or customize your Safari settings. If you need help with something in particular, comment below or ping us on Twitter!