Web Culture

How To Turn Off Distracting Tech Notifications Almost Anywhere

Joshua Lockhart 09-01-2013

turn off notificationsThese days, we’re constantly barraged with email updates, system alerts, and annoying texts from hypothetical neighbors named Brad about how he got his pet chinchilla stuck in the dryer vent again. But for some reason, techsters tend to play the victim by saying they have to have their notifications turned on whether it for their Mac, PC, iPhone, or Android mobile.


Oh, but I may miss something… Oh, but I need to be available at all times…

Yeah right… The fact is that you don’t have to keep these distractions in your life. Let’s take a look at how you can get rid of distracting notifications almost anywhere.

Take Back Control

turn off notifications

Notifications were created as a means to remind users to check on messages, update software, etc. Strangely, it’s quite a bit like Pavlov’s dog experiment. But in the context of people… this is a little pitiful. You’re obviously smarter than a dog, right? The good news is that fixing it is just a matter of responsibility.

Even worse, it’s easy to become slightly apathetic when it comes to those automatic fancy bubbles, so it could help to be more intentional with checking your updates. When it gets right down to it, you should focus on what notifications are the most important to you. All these updates can be a waste of time!


In fact, a study by Loughborough University discovered that it takes an nearly a entire minute to fully recover from an email 5 Tips for Ending Your Email Sending Anxiety Internet etiquette can be a touchy subject, and although I don't consider myself the Miss Manners of the world wide web, I try my best to be courteous with how I act online. Granted, I'm... Read More . Think about all the emails that you get in one day, and then think about how long it takes to write up a response. That stuff adds up, man. It’s time to break free and stop letting notifications control you.

For starters, the easiest route (with possibly the worst withdrawals) is to simply turn off every notification that you have. Yep. Just kill ’em. Below are a few different ways to ditch the self-inflicted pop-ups.

Turn Off Desktop Email Notifications

disable notifications

These few should turn off your email, the most common daily interruption. We’ll get to mobile email in a few.


Apple Mail: Go into System Preferences > Notifications > Mail and turn off  banners, alerts, or sounds.

Outlook: While in the Tools menu, click Options. From there, go to Email Options and then Advanced Email Options. After that, uncheck the Display A New Mail Desktop Alert box under When New Items Arrive In My Inbox.

Gmail: Select the Gear Icon, go to your Settings, and check Mail Notifications Off under the Desktop Notifications section.

Turn Off System Notifications

disable notifications


Sometimes, system notifications can be a bit of a hassle. Below are a few ways to nip these in the bud. Make sure to remind yourself to check for important updates!

Apple OSX Mountain Lion: In System Preferences, you access nearly everything by going to Notifications. Additionallygo to System Preferences > Software Update to handle your automatic updates for OSX and your apps.

Window 7 Notifications: Taskbar Notifications can be handled by clicking the up-arrow on the left-hand side of the System Tray icons and choosing Customize. From there, a window full of notification options will be at your disposal. To turn off Security Messages, go to Control Panel > System And Security > Action Center and select Change Action Center Settings.

Window 8 Notifications: Access the Charms Bar by pressing Windows+C. After that, go to Settings and click Notifications to shut everything down. For more specific options, go to More PC Settings > Notifications, and you can make changes for various apps.


Turn Off Mobile Notifications

turn off notifications

Smartphone Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone? At one time, landlines and payphones were all we had--and we survived just fine, thank you very much. But now, it’s almost laughable if you don’t own an iPhone or Android, and for some of... Read More  app notification settings are pretty standard for each individual phone. By using the information shown here, you can shut down everything from your mail to your messages.

iPhone iOS 6: With almost any app, you can go to Settings > Notifications and resolve your notification woes. This even includes iMessage (bye-bye, Brad.)

Android Jelly Bean 4.1: Whenever a notification pops up, long-press it and App Info should come onscreen. Tap it, and you’ll be taken to the app management screen where you can deselect the Show Notifications box.

Older Versions Of Android: Apps tend to vary, but by going to Menu > Settings you should be able to find the app’s notification information. Good luck.

Set Up A Schedule

Purging all of these notifications is pretty easy, but what’s not easy is taking accountability for manually checking in on your messages and updates. Scheduling five minutes out of every hour that you are working is an excellent way to handle yourself. Alternatively, checking in every single time you’ve accomplished something helps as well.

This isn’t to say that notifications aren’t a good thing – sometimes they are. It just comes down to this: don’t let notifications control your time. Instead, you should control your own time by making those notifications unnecessary.


I know it may be hard, but trust me, things will be better by freeing up these micro-nuisances from your life. It may not seem like they take much time out of your day, but those minutes do add up.

What other ways do you minimize the distractions in your daily life? What notifications bother you the most?

Image Credit: Kevin_P, daveAlvimann, typexnick

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  1. harley bellwood
    March 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I used one of several (I can't remember which one it was now, they are all off). It had the most annoying sound alert each time I got an email. It drove me batty.

  2. dragonmouth
    January 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    But I HAVE TO be in touch 24/7/365!!!!! Otherwise I might miss the news that some self-important twit had three waffles for breakfast rather than two.

    Let's face it, if people had the will power to turn off their notifications, they would have the will power to not use their cell phones while driving and not to text while driving. They would have the will power to not have the cell phone permanently screwed in their ear.

    • Joshua Lockhart
      January 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      5 imaginary dollars says you just got an email notification about this comment.

      • dragonmouth
        January 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm

        You win your bet - sort of. All my notifications go to email. I do not have any pop-up notifications. I log off my computer whenever I'm not going to be using it, so even if I did have pop-ups turned on, they would just pile up in cyberspace.

        • Joshua Lockhart
          January 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm

          Email is a good method of sorting it all. You can just have it all sent there and take some time out of your day (scheduling) to sift through it.

  3. Noman Fayez
    January 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

    This notifications are so disgusting sometimes

    • Joshua Lockhart
      January 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Sometimes pop-up ads are better. : )

  4. Mac Witty
    January 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Turn off you phone for a couple of hours a day.

    • Alexander
      January 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

      ^^This. It will help you focus more on other tasks !

    • Joshua Lockhart
      January 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Yep! That helps.

  5. Junil Maharjan
    January 9, 2013 at 4:32 am

    This will help when you are doing something important or when you are at movies (mobile notification) or when you are spending time with family.

    • Joshua Lockhart
      January 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      All of those things tend to involve real life people, too. Funny how that works out. : )

    • nyuszika7h
      February 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      Or you know, there's this thing called silent mode. If you're at the cinema, you're supposed to turn off your phone anyway, and in other cases, if you want to allow *some* notifications (e.g. calls from your close family), Android Lollipop has a "Priority notifications" feature.