Your iMac’s Notification Center

By Mark L. Chambers

Unlike Reminders and Notes, Notification Center on your iMac isn’t an application you launch. Instead, the Notification Center icon appears at the far right side of the Finder menu bar, and it’s always running.

Click the icon (or, if you’re using a trackpad, swipe from the right edge to the left) to display your notifications, as shown in the following figure. These notifications can be generated by a whole host of Mavericks applications and functions, including Calendar, Mail, FaceTime, Reminders, Game Center, Photo Stream, Messages, Safari, Facebook, and even the Apple App Store.

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

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

Notification Center muscles your Desktop to the side.

Notification Center muscles your Desktop to the side.

At the top of 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 at the top of Notification Center as well.

But wait, there’s more to Notification Center than just a strip of happenings! Depending on the settings you choose, notifications can also appear without Notification Center being open at all. These notifications are displayed as pop-up banners (which disappear in a few seconds) and alerts (which must be dismissed by clicking a button). The next figure illustrates a typical alert notification.

An alert notification appears on your Desktop.

An alert notification appears on your Desktop.

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’ll also receive notifications from the App Store indicating the applications that need updating.

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