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Managing Your Notifications

If you've used a modem smartphone, you'll be all too familiar with Notifications, those urgent little messages that tell you something has just happened. Windows 10 seems to have embraced notifications in a much bigger way than older versions. This is howto manage those pop-ups.

It's a feature of modern life in the digital age that we don't have to remember things anymore. Just a decade or so ago we used to have to remember dozens of phone numbers but with mobile phones now storing all our contacts we're lucky if we can remember our own number. We used to have to remember facts but today we have Wikipedia constantly at our fingertips. We used to have to remember appointments and tie a knot in a hanky to remember to buy a pint of milk but these days we have Notifications to remind us of everything. These changes in the ways that we find and use knowledge is actually changing the ways that our brains work; as we rely more on machines to store and recall everyday information, our memories are becoming less efficient, although our critical faculties may be improving to help us weed out false information. Whether this is a good thing or not, only time will tell.

Notifications have become an everyday fact of life for anyone who uses a smartphone, tablet or personal computer. All through the day you'll hear that insistent little "ping" that lets you know that you've received an email, or one of your friends has posted another cat picture on Facebook and that you've only got 15 minutes to get to the dentist. While they can certainly be useful for anyone trying to juggle a job, family and busy social life, if you don't manage your notifications you'll never get a moment's peace. The same is true of Windows Notifications; if you don't set them up properly you'll be constantly notified about things that you just don't need to know about.

First introduced with Windows 8, Notifications are the messages that pop-up in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen, reminding you of calendar events, letting you know that you've got emails and generally keeping you informed about what's going on with your life and your computer. There's no doubt that Notifications are useful, especially when they remind you of a forgotten appointment or signal the arrival of an important email. However if you don't take a firm hand with them you can be overwhelmed with pop-up messages about trivial Twitter posts or friends' Facebook status updates.

Notification Settings

In Windows 10 you can choose what sort of Notifications you receive and even decide which apps can post Notifications and what type of Notifications each app can use. Read on to find out how you can manage your notifications.

  1. To view your recent Notifications, click on the Action Center icon in the System Tray area of the Taskbar, at the bottom right of the screen. It's the one that looks like a rectangular speech bubble.
  2. The Action Center sidebar will open, showing all your recent Notifications, as well as a panel of buttons at the bottom of the screen. Click on All Settings to open the Settings screen.
  3. On the Settings screen, click on System and then in the sidebar menu on the left of the System screen, click on Notifications & Actions.
  4. Under the Notifications headeryou'll see a row of five switches controlling general Notifications options. By default they're all set to on except "Hide notifications while presenting".
  5. If you don't want any of your installed apps to be able to send you Notifications, set the switch for "Show app notifications" to off. You can also turn off "Show me tips about Windows".
  6. Scroll down further and you'll find a list of installed apps that can send Notifications, each one with a switch. To disable Notifications from individual apps, flip that app's switch to off.
  7. If you just want to see important Notifications, try setting everything except Mail, Calendar, News and Windows Explorer to off.
  8. If you click on the list entry for a particular app you see further options, allowing you to turn off Notifications for that app, just turn off the on screen banner notifications and also toggle whether the notification plays a sound.