Using Notifications in OS X Mountain Lion and Mavericks

Notifications in Mountain Lion and Mavericks help you keep track of what's new. OS X shows your alerts in the upper-right corner of your screen, without interrupting what you're doing. You can access a list of your notifications by clicking the Notification Center icon in the menu bar. 

notifications icon

Banners, Alerts, and Badges

Notifications work with many of the apps included with OS X. For example, you can see when there is incoming email in Mail, or new appointments in Calendar. You can also receive notifications from third-party applications, and see when updates are available from the Mac App Store. You can even reply or act on incoming chats from Messages or calls from Facetime. Each app displays these notifications as a banner, alert or badge. 

Banners appear in the upper right corner of your Mac for a short period of time, then slide off screen to the right.

notifications on screen

On the left of the banner is the icon of the app that generated the notification. The rest of the banner contains a brief message from the app. Click the banner to go directly to the associated app.

   chat notification

Alerts are important announcements that appear the same way as banners. They remain on your screen until you take action. Many alerts include buttons you can use to interact with the notification. To dismiss an alert notification without interacting with it, use your pointer to swipe the banner to the right.

alarm alert

Badges keep a count of how many new items or notifications are waiting for you in an app. A red badge with a number appears on the upper-right of an app's icon in the dock to indicate how many new items are waiting. For example, a badge attached to the App Store icon indicates how many updates are available to install.

New in Mavericks

With OS X Mavericks, you can interact with notifications, so you can quickly reply to a message, invitation, or email.

   chat interactive notification

If you receive a FaceTime video call you don’t have time to answer, simply reply with a message or set a callback reminder.

FaceTime notification

Mavericks also supports notifications from your favorite websites so you can see breaking news, sports scores, auction alerts, and more at a glance.


Learn More

Click on a topic below to learn more about Notifications in OS X.

Notification Center

When an app sends you a notification, it displays a banner in the upper right corner of the screen. If that banner is dismissed, you can still see a list notifications that have passed by opening Notification Center.

notification center

To view details about any of the recently added items, show the Notification Center:

From Notification Center, you can act on any of your pending alerts:

  • Click an item to go directly to the associated app.
  • Click the close icon  to clear all notifications related to an app.
  • In Mavericks, click the Messages button to send a quick message to someone without opening the Messages app.
    Notification Center shows additional buttons messaging using Twitter, Facebook or Linked In if you've set up these additional services in the Internet Accounts pane of System Preferences.

Setting Notifications preferences

Notifications options are configured in the Notifications pane of System Preferences.

To open Notifications preferences:

  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences > Notifications.
  • Click the settings icon  in the lower right corner of Notification Center to go directly to its preferences.

Mountain Lion


To configure options for apps:

  1. Highlight a Notifications-enabled app by clicking it in the In Notification Center section of the preference pane on the left side of the window.
  2. Choose the alert style for the app:
    • None – No alerts will be presented.
    • Banners – Show a temporary banner when new items occur.
    • Alert – Show an Alert that requires acknowledgement.
  3. Select or Deselect the "Show in Notification Center" option to decide if this app's notifications should appear in the Notifications Center.
    • Choose the number of recent items to appear from the pop-up menu.
  4. Check or uncheck "Badge app icon" option to show badges on the icon of the app in the Dock.
  5. Check or uncheck "Play sound when receiving notifications" for the Mac to play its alert sound.
    • The alert sound for notifications is configured in the Sound pane of System Preferences.
  6. Select the "Sort Notification Center" option pop-up menu to sort Notification Center Manually or by the time events are added.

Tip: To arrange the order of how apps appear in Notification Center, click and drag an app in the In Notification Center section of the preference pane on the left side of the window. 

Do Not Disturb

You can activate Do Not Disturb from Notification Center. Open Notification Center and scroll up with your mouse or trackpad to reveal the Do Not Disturb switch. Click the switch to toggle Do Not Disturb on or off.

do not disturb on

In OS X Mavericks, you can also set a Do Not Disturb time for Notifications in Notifications preferences. This temporarily silences notifications during the specified range of time.

do not disturb prefs

While you're away

In Mavericks, notifications can appear on the lock screen, or while the screen saver is active.

notifications on login screen

If you don't want notifications to appear in these locations configure each app in Notifications preferences. Deselect the checkbox "Show Notifications when display is off or locked" for each app.


Learn more

  • Some Banners, Alerts, and Badges require the associated app to be open and in the background in order to appear.
  • When first opened, an app may consolidate multiple notifications into one banner or alert.

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