If you’ve been using tech for a few years, you can probably appreciate just how powerful, efficient, and even intuitive today’s computers are compared to what you used 10 years ago or longer.
Processor speeds have increased exponentially, and other under-the-hood tech improvements have helped, too. But where we’ve really seen improvements in usability and intuitiveness is in the software and operating systems running on our computers.
Now that they have more power available to them, software and OS makers have been able to do some pretty awesome things. Like the humble notification.
Notifications: A Powerful Tool, But Easy to Abuse
Take notifications, for one. Best case, notifications are intuitive and immensely helpful, letting you know about a crucial email, a new Slack message, or even something like a severe weather alert or a missing child.
But like absolutely everything new, notifications have a dark side. Even the good ones can interrupt you during periods of intense focus or pop up on screen in the middle of a presentation. And even worse, some people, sites, and apps abuse the tech, sending notifications that aren’t helpful and do little more than try to get you to buy more.
These notifications can ruin your productivity — and even the smooth experience of using your devices.
Notifications in Google Chrome
If you use Google Chrome for your web browsing and online productivity, you’ve probably seen Chrome’s notification requests. You might enable them browser-wide because you want something like Gmail or chat alerts that show up on your desktop even when you’re not actively using Chrome.
Once you enable them for the browser, well, that’s when the trouble starts.
You’ve probably seen the on-tab pop-up alerts on popular news sites, among others: it asks if you want “crucial” or “important” updates from the brand. Click “yes,” and that brand can now send those same style of notifications.
Whenever it wants. No limits on number or frequency.
Do this on several websites, and soon the notification spam is completely out of control.
The worst part? These alerts pop up in a way where you might mistake them for the “cookies” warning or something like that. It’s so easy to click “yes” when you don’t even mean to.
Solution for Chrome
So what can you do?
Well, turning the notifications off at the app level is an option. You can do this in the Chrome settings menu. Here’s a tutorial. Chrome will let you manually disable sites one at a time, or you can toggle the whole system off.
Google is also working on a new update that should help. We don’t know when it will arrive yet, but when the feature is ready, Chrome will start automatically blocking notifications from sites that send them too frequently and get labeled as nuisance or spam sites.
If you don’t want to wait for Google to intervene, you can take matters into your own hands via the settings menu.
Notifications in Windows 10 and Windows 11
Not one to miss an opportunity for innovation, Microsoft introduced a revamped systemwide notifications protocol in Windows 10, with further refinements in Windows 11.
Windows usually produces useful notifications, but if they’re getting out of hand, you can control them via this path:
- Click Start
- Then Settings
- Then System
- Then Notifications & actions
- Last, Manage notifications
Here you can disable or tweak settings for a wide variety of notifications. (The process is nearly identical in Windows 11.)
If you’re having the opposite problem — you lost track of a notification you really need — Windows 11 gives you a new keyboard shortcut. Press the Windows key and N together, and your notifications panel will slide over, letting you find the notification that slipped away.
That’s it for this week. Do you have more questions about productivity, fixing notifications, or navigating the modern web? We can help! Reach out today, and a member of the Blue Ridge Tech team will connect with you shortly.