How to Customize the Notification Center in OS X Yosemite

Notification Center screen on OS X Yosemite

The Notification Center in OS X Yosemite is pretty great. It offers you a one-stop shop for all your notification and daily needs while staying mostly out of the way when you don’t need it.

Not only can you get alerts from apps and websites in Notification Center, but you can use the Today tab to add widgets from a variety of apps, making the tool customizable to your needs. There are a few pieces involved when customizing the Notification Center for OS X Yosemite, but with a little TLC it can be far more useful that it is out of the box.

1. Customize Notifications

At its core the Notification Center is all about – you guessed it – notifications, both the pop-up ones you see immediately and the ones that you can go back and review later.

Changing up how notifications show up is the first place you want to start customizing. Click on the Notification Center in the upper right corner of the OS X menu bar (next to the Spotlight magnifying glass). From here, click the gear icon in the bottom right corner. Alternatively, you can open System Preferences and click on Notifications.

The first item to update is Do Not Disturb. This feature will mute notifications based on the criteria you set. If your Mac is constantly on, it’s probably a good idea to set a time in which your Mac will keep quiet.

Also, you can turn off notifications when your Mac is sleeping, and when you’re mirroring your display. This last one is huge, as it can keep something embarrassing from popping on your TV when you’re watching a movie or giving a presentation.

Notifications window in System Preferences

The next big item to tackle is how notifications appear for each app that uses the Notification Center. Click on each app in the sidebar and set how you want them to appear. Finally, you can choose to have items show up in an order you set, or in the recommended order by time.

2. Website Notifications

With the new Notification Center in OS X Yosemite, Apple gave websites the chance to send updates directly to your Mac whenever new content is available or something special is happening on the site.

You can set these up and manage them just like any other app. To start a new website notification you just need to head over to that website and accept their push notifications. After accepting them you should see the website listed in the app sidebar in the Notifications window shown above.

Note: You have to be using Safari as your browser to sign up for these alerts. They should show up automatically for you to accept or decline on each site.

3. Widgets and the Today Tab

This is where the new Notification Center really starts to shine. You can now add and remove both official Apple and third-party widgets to and from the Today tab to make it even more useful. You can also rearrange the widgets that are there by default in case they don’t display the way you like.

To view widgets in the Today tab, just click the Today tab at the top on Notification Center. From here you can see everything that the Today tab has by default.

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To reorder the existing widgets, click the Edit button at the bottom of the Today tab.
Today tab of Notification Center showing Edit button

This will open up a list of available widgets as well as place a small red minus icon next to each current widget. To reorder the current widgets, click and drag the three-line icon that appears across from each minus sign, as seen below:
Widgets on Today tab with minus-sign icons

Once you have your widgets reordered, you can remove the ones that you don’t want to show by clicking the red circle with the minus in it, as seen above. This won’t delete the widget forever, it’ll just move it from the active screen to the inactive section. You can always add it back.

Speaking of adding widgets, to add one from the inactive section just click the edit button as mentioned above and then click the green plus sign next to a widget in waiting on the right side.
Inactive widgets in Notification Center with plus-sign icons

There are a few widgets that come from Apple, but there are also a lot that are tied to third-party applications, and these are easily the most useful things you can add to the Notification Center. Click here to view the best Notification Center/Today tab widgets for OS X Yosemite.

With a little bit of work and a few new apps, you can make the Notification Center an incredibly useful tool that’s perfect for helping you stay on top of things and get more work done.


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