Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Apple > Operating Systems

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Managing Notifications on Mac and iOS

Earlier in this chapter, you’ve seen lots of information about setting up and editing events and reminders on iOS devices, the Mac, and the iCloud website. But a large part of the power of event notifications is that they can take a proactive role in your life, actively letting you know when they come due. They do this through notifications, which are banners, dialogs, and sounds that appear on your devices. You set up notifications when you are creating an event or reminder, and they are pushed to your various devices via iCloud when those events and reminders are synchronized.

There are two kinds of visual notification that appear:

  • Banners appear on the screen, hang around for a moment or two, then discreetly tuck themselves away circle_a.jpg.

    circle_a.jpg This is the banner notification, with a somewhat unsettling message.

  • Alerts appear on the screen, but require action from the user (such as a click on a button) before they go away circle_b.jpg.

    circle_b.jpg This alert notification requires you to click one of the buttons before it leaves your screen.

Beginning with Mountain Lion on the Mac and iOS 6, there is a central spot for working with notifications, cleverly called Notification Center. On the Mac, Notification Center is available from within all apps. By clicking an icon in the right edge of the menu bar, the contents of your screen slide to the left, showing you a bar with your latest notifications. On iOS, Notification Center is always available by swiping down from the top of the screen circle_c.jpg. If you have your device configured to work with Twitter and Facebook on the operating system level, then Notification Center will also show widgets that allow you to quickly tweet and post to your Facebook Wall. The iPhone also has Notification Center widgets for Whether, Stocks, and Sharing.


Click to view larger image

circle_c.jpg Notification Center (shown here on an iPhone) can show you notifications from many different apps, allow you to post to Twitter and Facebook, and can even give you the weather forecast.

On the Mac, Notification Center gets configured through the Notifications pane of System Preferences. On iOS, you use the Notifications section of the Settings app. On either operating system, you have the ability to configure notifications on an app-by-app basis. So, for example, on the Mac you can have your Calendar events appear as a banner, and your Reminders appear as an alert, and have the opposite setting on your iOS devices. The settings are per device, so you can even have different settings for your iPhone and iPad.

To configure notifications on a Mac

  1. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences, then click Notifications.

    The Notifications preference pane appears circle_d.jpg.


    Click to view larger image

    circle_d.jpg On the Mac, set up your notification styles in System Preferences.

  2. In the list on the left, find the app for which you want to configure notifications settings. If the app is down at the bottom of the list in the “Not in Notification Center” section, click and drag it up to the “In Notification Center” part of the list.
  3. On the right side of the preference pane, do one or more of the following:
    • Pick the kind of alert style you want (None, Banners, or Alerts).
    • Choose whether or not you want the app’s alerts to appear in Notification Center, and if so, how many items (1, 5, 10, or 20) you wish to appear there.
    • Select the checkbox if you want an incoming notification to put a numeric badge on the app's icon in the Dock.
    • Choose whether or not you want an alert sound to play when the notification comes in.
  4. At the bottom of the preference pane, from the Sort Notification Center pop-up menu, choose Manually or By time. I prefer manually, because that keeps apps from moving around by themselves in the list.
  5. Close System Preferences when you’re done configuring things.

To configure notifications on an iOS device

  1. Tap the Settings app, then tap Notifications.

    The Notifications Screen appears circle_e.jpg.


    Click to view larger image

    circle_e.jpg On iOS, you’ll make your decisions about Notifications in the Settings app.

  2. Scroll the list of apps until you find the one you want to configure, then tap it.
  3. In the notification settings screen for the app circle_f.jpg, first make sure that the Notification Center switch is turned on.

    Click to view larger image

    circle_f.jpg Each app allows fine-grained choices about how its notifications appear.

  4. Set the number of recent items you want to show in Notification Center.
  5. Set the Alert Style you want the app to use.
  6. Different apps have different options available, but Badge App Icon and Sounds are two common settings. Choose whether you want them on or off.
  7. Decide whether or not you want the alert notification from this app to appear in the lock screen of the iOS app; that is, the screen that appears after you wake the device but before you swipe to unlock it.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account