8 Tips For Making Great Use Of The OS X Notification Center

James Bruce 22-08-2012

os x notification centerWith Mountain Lion A Preview Of Features In The Next OSX, Mountain Lion [Mac] Last week, Apple announced preliminary details of the next major release of OSX, named Mountain Lion. Some are calling it non-news - an incremental upgrade with no real new features or changes. I'll let you... Read More came the introduction to the desktop of the familiar Notification Center, ported from its iOS origins. It’s brought even more unity between the desktop and mobile OS The iOS-ification Of OSX - The Beginning Of The End? Or A Natural Harmonisation? [Opinion] Recent announcements about the next major upgrade of OSX, named Mountain Lion, have garnered mixed reactions from the community. Some are proclaiming the death of the Mac; some think it's the first step in dumbing... Read More , and essentially replicates functionality that’s been available with third party applications for a few years now.


It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s surprisingly customizable (for an Apple product). Here are 8 tips to get the most of out of Notification Center.

Control What Notifications You Receive

If a particular app is annoying you with notifications, simply disable it from Preferences -> Notifications. You may be doing this a lot, as new applications or games from the App Store will likely include notification integration.

Know The Difference Between Banners & Alerts

If you like having a bunch of notifications sitting in the corner of your screen at all times, just waiting for you to close or act on them in some way – then you’ll want to set apps to use the Alert style.

If however, you’d rather they just pop up briefly and then disappear without requiring any particular attention, you’ll want to set apps to use the Banner notification style.

Learn The Shortcuts

While you can open Notification Center by just clicking on the menu bar icon, you can also set up shortcuts and gestures to make it even easier.


With a trackpad, simply use a two finger swipe from the right hand side of the trackpad. Don’t confuse this with going to the side of the screen and swiping – you literally have to swipe from the right side of your physical trackpad.

If this isn’t working for you, check it’s actaully enabled from the Preferences -> Trackpad -> More Gestures panel (and learn some other great gestures you might not have known about while you’re at it).

os x notification center

Alternatively, set up a “hot corner” to open Notification Center – the top left would be ideal, since the icon is there anyway. Do this from the Preferences -> Mission Control pane -> Hot Corners button.


os x notifications

If you prefer, a keyboard shortcut can also be used. This will also need enabling first from Preferences->Keyboard.

os x notifications

Set Up Your Twitter Account

Notification Center can actually be set up to notify you of direct messages and mentions on Twitter, as well as giving you a quick click to Tweet button – but you’ll need to set up your Twitter account first from Preferences -> Mail, Contacts and Calendars.


os x notifications

Pause It While You Do Real Work…

If you just need to focus on the task at hand, you can temporarily shut off all notifications. Just open up Notification Center, and pull down for a quick toggle. Just so you don’t forget it’s been muted completely, it’ll automatically re-activate the next day.

os x tips

… Or Kill Notification Center, Completely

If you really don’t want to even deal with Notification Center, then head to /System/Library/CoreServices/ and rename the “Notification”. To finish the death blow, open Terminal and type killall NotificationCenter. This video from OSXDaily shows you how the entire process can be completed in under a minute.


You can re-enable it by restoring the original file name and launching the app.

Change The Background

Sick of linen? This Cult of Mac video tutorial shows you exactly how to change it to anything you want. It’s quite an involved process so I won’t repeat it here.

Get Growl Notifications, In Notification Center, With Hiss

If you’ve grown accustomed to and have a bunch of apps with Growl functionality built in, but would rather switch to using the native Notification Center, then Hiss has you covered. It acts as a bridge, accepting Growl notifications, and posting them to the Notification Center. It’s currently in beta, and completely free.

os x notification center

Do you have any more Notification Center tips you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments and we might even give some bonus points for the best one (though, it would have to be really good).

Related topics: Growl for Mac, Notification, OS X Mountain Lion.

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  1. sonnylim
    September 16, 2012 at 2:05 am

    This are great tips! Thanks very much.

  2. Andy Wells
    September 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  3. Ahmed Khalil
    September 7, 2012 at 6:43 am

    adding the notification centre to MAC OSX make the day we can see one operating system for tablet , computer and mobile, become very soon

  4. Don Coplen
    August 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    I like the notifications addition, and Mountain Lion in general.

    But, what the heck is Growl?

    • muotechguy
      August 28, 2012 at 7:56 am

      Apologies Don, should have explained that. Growl is a notification system - basically identical to Notification Center - that has been around for a long time. Many applications are integrated with it - - so a lot of existing users are kind of invested in that system instead. If you're coming to "notifications" for the first time, OSX has you covered ;)

  5. Joel Wetzel
    August 26, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Another great tip: It's possible to get alerts in OS X Notification Center for things that happen in your cloud services. You can do it with anything that sends you emails. I just blogged about it here: [Broken URL Removed]

    • muotechguy
      August 28, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Awesome tip Joel, thanks!

  6. April Eum
    August 26, 2012 at 4:33 am

    i recently downloaded mountain lion os x, but didn't really differ to me. now i can really makeuseof it LOL

  7. Serra Stone
    August 23, 2012 at 12:30 am

    If I could just move the damn thing to my other monitor so I could leave it open all of the time, I would be happy!