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Microsoft mentions the toast as a visual element in the package manifest for Metro-style apps with the attribute ToastCapable="true".

What does this mean?

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@Matt, maybe I could have found better search terms, but most of my results were drowned by cd burning software, or toasted bread. I thought this would be a good place to get a concise answer for a somewhat obscure term. Apologies if it does not apply –  Dave Andersen Sep 27 '11 at 17:35
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@Matt, This may be nit-picking, but that link just describes how to create one, and some vague details (it's a notification, it requires a sound, you can launch an app from it) but not a complete picture of what it really is. There's no clean explanation like Ben provided on that page. –  Dave Andersen Sep 27 '11 at 22:00
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Hopefully the next person won't have to search so hard because this question will show up near the top of the results. It's a good question and good answer. –  Patrick McElhaney Sep 27 '11 at 22:56
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Why is "the Google test" even an issue? Don't we want UX SE to show up on the first page of results for even trivial UX questions? That'll draw us a lot of traffic; I'd even go so far as saying it should be a goal of the site! –  Rahul Sep 28 '11 at 8:29
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@CharlesBoyung it's a method of interacting with the user, it's a UX term. He found it from a technical manual, but what you call a notification is important in UX design. Just because code calls something a window doesn't mean it's not a window to us too. –  Ben Brocka Sep 29 '11 at 23:07
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5 Answers

up vote 26 down vote accepted

A Toast is a non modal, unobtrusive window element used to display brief, auto-expiring windows of information to a user. Android OS makes relatively heavy use of them.

Here's an example of a Google Chrome toast notification on Mac OS X:

enter image description here

A list of descriptions of Toast windows on multiple platforms:

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Thanks, I had the vague notion that it was something that 'popped up' :) –  Dave Andersen Sep 27 '11 at 16:47
    
The name is sort of odd, I did a whole student-research experiment on them and one of the biggest problems was how the heck to refer to them. They were just "the notification" to users. –  Ben Brocka Sep 27 '11 at 16:54
    
Thanks for the answer Ben, I have seen this type of modal a hundred types and had no idea how to refer to it. –  rlsaj Sep 29 '11 at 23:52
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@jaslr Exactly! Things need names! It bugged the heck out of me that almost no research on notifications uses this term, made searching for relevant research a pain. –  Ben Brocka Sep 30 '11 at 13:55
    
Also another point mentioned in the Android guide there is that the user doesn't interact with the notifications - they don't accept user input. Though, I've found that toasts may become a bit obtrusive when there's not much screen real estate, so I'd have them interact purely so that you can close / hide them (e.g. to see what's behind them). –  jamiebarrow Jul 4 '12 at 11:31
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I learned the term from working with Android as well. We use them all the time to provide brief notifications "Item Saved to Favorites" is a common one. I think the biggest difference from a pop-up is that they are "auto-expiring." So anything with an OK/Cancel option would not be considered a toast. As for the origin of the term it could either be a reference to it popping up like toasted bread or like a dinner party toast "Something happened..Cheers!"

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Luke Wroblewski in this blog post describes a use of this real time notification:

.. and added a site-wide system of real time notifications that tell you when someone you follow on Bagcheck creates, likes or comments on something. You can see one of these notifications in action in the animated image below. A little "toast" window appears in the upper right hand corner of your screen when someone cooks up a new update.

enter image description here

Also worth noting from the Android Developer Guide:

but it does not take focus (or pause the current activity), so it cannot accept user input

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