How to turn off notifications in OS X

NotificationCenterIconXApple’s Notification Center in OS X is a central service that allows you to view messages and warnings from your system along the right-hand side of your screen. Messages appear either as banners that disappear, or as alerts that require you to click a button to close. You can also click the Notification Center icon next to the Spotlight icon in the system menu bar, to view all the available messages in the system.

While Notification Center can be convenient, at times it can also be frustrating to deal with, especially if an application or two is constantly sending you messages.

Do Not Disturb

Notification Center Do Not Disturb

Toggle this switch (scroll up to reveal it) to disable Notification Center until the following day.

For times when you need it quiet, Apple does have a Do Not Disturb mode in Notification Center, which can be activated by opening Notification Center and then scrolling up. When you do this, a hidden slider will appear that you can use to toggle Do Not Disturb. This mode will stay on until the following day.

Remove individual applications

Do Not Disturb will disable Notification Center’s banners and alerts, but if you only wish to do so for an individual application, then you can do this by configuring that application in the Notifications system preferences:

  1. Open the Notifications system preferences
  2. Locate the application you wish to disable, and select it
  3. Select “None” for the message alert style, to disable on-screen notices
  4. Uncheck additional options to disable further alerts.
Notifications system preferences

You can uncheck all options for each application in the Notifications system preferences, or tweak the Do Not Disturb settings to effectively disable Notification Center (click for larger view).

Disabling Notification Center entirely

While Notification Center is a persistent service that Apple does not allow you to disable, you can take advantage of two configuration options to effectively disable it, or at least its on-screen notices.

  1. Disable all applications
    Go to the Notifications system preferences, and instead of disabling notifications for an individual application, do so for all applications. While system services like the App Store will still show notices (e.g., for updates), those for most other applications will be suppressed.
  2. Tweak “Do not Disturb”
    In Mavericks, apple has implemented a custom time range for the Do Not Disturb feature, instead of having it be enabled until the next day. This time range can be set in the Do Not Disturb section of the Notifications system preferences, but if you set the time range to be a 23:59 range that turns over in the middle of the night (e.g., set Do Not Disturb to run from 2:30am to 2:29am), then you will effectively disable Notification Center.

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