How to Stay Current with Your MacBook’s Notification Center

Of the iOS newcomers to OS X, the Notification Center is unique because it’s not actually an application you launch on your MacBook! Instead, the Notification Center is always running.

You can find the Notification Center icon at the far right side of the Finder menu bar. Click the icon (or, if you prefer using gestures on your trackpad, swipe with two fingers from the right edge to the left) to display your notifications. These notifications can be generated by a host of Mavericks applications, including Calendar, Mail, FaceTime, Reminders, Game Center, Messages, Safari, and even the Apple App Store.

The Notification Center doesn’t interfere with open applications. Instead, it simply moves the entire Desktop to the left so that you can see your notifications. You can close the Notification Center at any time by clicking anywhere on the Desktop, by again clicking the Notification Center icon on the Finder menu bar, or by swiping in the opposite direction.

Notification entries that appear in the Notification Center are grouped under the application that created them. You can delete many entries from the Notification Center by clicking the Delete button that appears next to the application heading (it bears an X symbol). Other entries, such as Calendar alerts, remain in the Notification Center until a certain amount of time has elapsed.

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At the top of the Notification Center is a Quick Message button. Just click it to display a pop-up dialog where you can specify the recipients of the message, type your message text, and then click Send — all without having to even launch the Messages application. Depending on the Internet accounts you’ve added in System Preferences, you may see Facebook and LinkedIn Quick Message buttons as well.

But the Notification Center is more than just a strip of happenings! Depending on the settings you choose, notifications can also appear when the Notification Center is closed. These notifications are displayed as pop-up banners (which disappear in a few seconds) and alerts (which you must dismiss by clicking a button).

Mavericks allows actions in notifications. Depending on the application or function that generated the notification, you may see buttons on a banner or an alert that allow you to take care of business (without requiring the application to be running).

For example, if a new e-mail message is received in Apple Mail, you can choose to reply to or delete the message. websites can display updates as notifications, and you can answer a FaceTime call directly from the notification. You also receive notifications from the App Store indicating that applications need updating.

You can configure the notifications for all your applications from the Notifications pane in System Preferences, which you can reach easily if the Notification Center is open. Just click the icon at the lower right of the Center (which looks just like the System Preferences icon in the Dock).

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