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How To Turn Off Distracting Tech Notifications Almost Anywhere

By Joshua Lockhart2013-01-09

turn off notificationsThese days, we’re constantly barraged with email updates, system alerts, and annoying texts from hypothetical neighbors named Brad about how he got his pet chinchilla stuck in the dryer vent again. But for some reason, techsters tend to play the victim by saying they have to have their notifications turned on whether it for their Mac, PC, iPhone, or Android mobile.

Oh, but I may miss something… Oh, but I need to be available at all times…

Yeah right… The fact is that you don’t have to keep these distractions in your life. Let’s take a look at how you can get rid of distracting notifications almost anywhere.

Take Back Control

turn off notifications

Notifications were created as a means to remind users to check on messages, update software, etc. Strangely, it’s quite a bit like Pavlov’s dog experiment. But in the context of people… this is a little pitiful. You’re obviously smarter than a dog, right? The good news is that fixing it is just a matter of responsibility.

Even worse, it’s easy to become slightly apathetic when it comes to those automatic fancy bubbles, so it could help to be more intentional with checking your updates. When it gets right down to it, you should focus on what notifications are the most important to you. All these updates can be a waste of time!

In fact, a study by Loughborough University discovered that it takes an nearly a entire minute to fully recover from an email. Think about all the emails that you get in one day, and then think about how long it takes to write up a response. That stuff adds up, man. It’s time to break free and stop letting notifications control you.

For starters, the easiest route (with possibly the worst withdrawals) is to simply turn off every notification that you have. Yep. Just kill ‘em. Below are a few different ways to ditch the self-inflicted pop-ups.

Turn Off Desktop Email Notifications

disable notifications

These few should turn off your email, the most common daily interruption. We’ll get to mobile email in a few.

Apple Mail: Go into System Preferences > Notifications > Mail and turn off  banners, alerts, or sounds.

Outlook: While in the Tools menu, click Options. From there, go to Email Options and then Advanced Email Options. After that, uncheck the Display A New Mail Desktop Alert box under When New Items Arrive In My Inbox.

Gmail: Select the Gear Icon, go to your Settings, and check Mail Notifications Off under the Desktop Notifications section.

Turn Off System Notifications

disable notifications

Sometimes, system notifications can be a bit of a hassle. Below are a few ways to nip these in the bud. Make sure to remind yourself to check for important updates!

Apple OSX Mountain Lion: In System Preferences, you access nearly everything by going to Notifications. Additionallygo to System Preferences > Software Update to handle your automatic updates for OSX and your apps.

Window 7 Notifications: Taskbar Notifications can be handled by clicking the up-arrow on the left-hand side of the System Tray icons and choosing Customize. From there, a window full of notification options will be at your disposal. To turn off Security Messages, go to Control Panel > System And Security > Action Center and select Change Action Center Settings.

Window 8 Notifications: Access the Charms Bar by pressing Windows+C. After that, go to Settings and click Notifications to shut everything down. For more specific options, go to More PC Settings > Notifications, and you can make changes for various apps.

Turn Off Mobile Notifications

turn off notifications

Smartphone app notification settings are pretty standard for each individual phone. By using the information shown here, you can shut down everything from your mail to your messages.

iPhone iOS 6: With almost any app, you can go to Settings > Notifications and resolve your notification woes. This even includes iMessage (bye-bye, Brad.)

Android Jelly Bean 4.1: Whenever a notification pops up, long-press it and App Info should come onscreen. Tap it, and you’ll be taken to the app management screen where you can deselect the Show Notifications box.

Older Versions Of Android: Apps tend to vary, but by going to Menu > Settings you should be able to find the app’s notification information. Good luck.

Set Up A Schedule

Purging all of these notifications is pretty easy, but what’s not easy is taking accountability for manually checking in on your messages and updates. Scheduling five minutes out of every hour that you are working is an excellent way to handle yourself. Alternatively, checking in every single time you’ve accomplished something helps as well.

This isn’t to say that notifications aren’t a good thing – sometimes they are. It just comes down to this: don’t let notifications control your time. Instead, you should control your own time by making those notifications unnecessary.


I know it may be hard, but trust me, things will be better by freeing up these micro-nuisances from your life. It may not seem like they take much time out of your day, but those minutes do add up.

What other ways do you minimize the distractions in your daily life? What notifications bother you the most?

Image Credit: Kevin_P, daveAlvimann, typexnick


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