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?

  • 3
    @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. 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. Sep 27 '11 at 22:56
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    @MattRockwell The problem with most results on Google is that when someone asks a question, they get a non-Q&A site. Here I get a clear picture of the definition of a toast, a clear indication of the "correct" answer and the top voted answer, and I don't have to dig through 8 pages of a forum thread or 20 paragraphs on wikipedia to find it.
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 28 '11 at 13:15
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    Honestly I wish people did stuff like that all the time, I love when I get a Stack Overflow question in search results instead of various tech forums, even if a forum thread answers the question. I've never been as clear on SE's policy on stuff like that though, since you're basically asking a question you know the answer to.
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 28 '11 at 13:38
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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

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:

  • 6
    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
  • 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). Jul 4 '12 at 11:31
  • How toast differenciates with an osx growl? Jan 23 '19 at 2:49
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    I like the term "flash message" from Ruby on Rails (RoR) better.
    – Pete Alvin
    Apr 18 at 20:10

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

  • Though variations now exist that CAN take user input. Intuitively [/s], they're called "snackbars"
    – Scott Odle
    Jan 24 '15 at 1:53

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!"


It means the application can provide alerts or notifications. From Metro Style Apps - VisualElements

Here is a more information: Creating and managing tiles, toast, and Windows push notifications and Quickstart: Creating a toast notification


Here are some screenshots of how "toast" notifications look in Windows 8 "Metro" apps and some screenshots in Windows Phone 7.

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