How to enable and disable notifications in the Chrome browser

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Do you have notifications appearing on your computer screen from random sites, Google Now, or various apps? Do they feel invasive and unwanted – or do you want to make greater use of them? Either way, we have the guide you need.

Chrome’s pushy notifications


What are these Chrome notifications? You’ll know if you get them, because they will pop up in a corner of your computer screen, often accompanied by an alert noise. That can grow annoying fast, which is why many users want a way to get rid of them or at least control what issues the notifications — which can be random. Google is planning on altering some notification options, but for now, it’s uncertain when and how many.

Here’s how the birth of a notification currently happens. You open something new, whether talking a webpage, an extension, or a fun-looking website button that you decide to click. The new thing you open is compatible with Chrome notifications, which means it can push various updates to a corner of your screen at any time. That new thing will typically ask permission before turning part of your computer into its personal social media page, but you may not notice this little permission window, or you may say okay without even realizing it. It happens, after all.

Google notifications also work with a number of Google services, including certain Gmail features, Google Now, and other tools that you may use. The end result is the same, with little windows appearing intermittently. Here’s how to make those notifications stop, or turn them on only for particular features that you really want updates about.

Shutting down or turning on all notifications


Step 1: Notification controls vary based on what system you’re using. If you have a Windows-based machine or a Mac, then start by opening Chrome and clicking the Chrome menu, which is located in the upper-right corner and looks like three horizontal lines. Then, select Settings from the drop-down menu and click Show advanced settings.

If you are on a Chromebook, you don’t need to worry about opening the browser. Instead, go to the status area in Chrome OS, where your account icon is. Afterward, click the Settings icon and select Show advanced settings.

Step 2: Now that you are in advanced settings, look for a section that says Privacy. In this section, there should be an option to choose Content settings. Click on this.

Step 3: This will open a window in which — after a bit of scrolling — will house an option that says Notifications. Go here and you will see three important choices. Click Do not allow any site to show notifications, assuming you want to permanently ban them.

Shutting Down Google Now (Chromebooks)

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Michael Crider/Digital Trends
Michael Crider/Digital Trends

Because Google Now isn’t a website but a service, it may still be issuing you notifications. If Now is indeed bothering you, there is a way to disable it, as well the other various Google services that may be unexpectedly popping up.

Begin by looking for your notifications center, which is a bell-shaped icon. This bell can be found in either the top right of the screen on a Mac, or the bottom right of the screen on a Windows computer. You also can go directly to the Notifications Center from Settings if you’re using a Mac. Once in the center, head over to the gear icon resembling a cog. Here, you can view all programs for which notifications are turned on. Uncheck Google Now and any other notifications you would like to disable.

It’s a good idea to take one step further and make sure Chrome doesn’t try to sneak any notifications past you anyway, which can happen, thanks to Chrome’s frequent experimentation and updates. You can do away with these intrusions by typing “chrome://flags” into the URL of your Chrome browser (this won’t work properly in any other browser). This brings up a list of the various trial tools and other forays into new territory that Chrome is currently studying.

Most of these extensions will be automatically disabled, but some may have become enabled depending on your circumstances. Look specifically for features called “Rich Notifications” and “Experimental UI for Notifications.” If either of these little extensions have been enabled, look beneath the tool for an option to change from either “Default” or “Enabled” to “Disabled.” Make sure they are both disabled.

Turning specific notifications off and on

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Michael Crider/Digital Trends
Michael Crider/Digital Trends

All right, not all notifications are bad. In fact, there’s a good chance that you may want a few for your favorite websites and services. You will note that there was an option to “Ask when a site wants to show notifications” in the options we listed above. When this is activated, a site must always ask permission, and you can say no to the sites you don’t prefer.

This doesn’t help if there are already activated sites pushing notifications on you. In this case, there are some handy solutions… for Google’s own properties, Android and Chrome OS. If you have an Android device, visit any website and you will see a lock icon beside the address bar. Open that, and you will see a drop-down menu for Notifications, with options to Allow or Block. Simply block that site to stop notifications.

On Chromebook, the process is even easier. When notifications queue up, you will see number icons on the lower-right corner of your screen. Click the Settings icon by those numbers, which looks like a gear. This will bring up a list of all apps, extensions, and websites currently pushing notifications. Uncheck any that you don’t want to see.

Use Windows or a Mac? You can still control specific notifications, but it’s harder. Remember when you were in the Notifications menu in  Chrome? Head back there and click the button that says Manage exceptions. This brings up a funny looking window that lists all the notification “exceptions” that will still send you updates. You can allow or block these right away. For control over a specific site, enter the hostname pattern in the waiting bar, and change the Behavior to Block. When finished, click Done.