We have a deluge of apps that bombard us with notifications. Recently, there has been talk about making apps more respectful and helping the user spend time better.

In light of this, what are some best practices for notifications generated by a Mac app to not interrupt the user when they're doing something more important?

I can think of a few:

  • Implement notifications only if I get consistent feedback from users asking for it.
  • Show notifications without sound, to not interrupt the user if they are in a meeting, asleep, etc.
  • Don't badge the app icon.
  • Before showing the first notification, tell the user that the app will show notifications and that they should turn it off in System Preferences if they don't want it.

Are these good ideas? Are there other best practices you have in mind to make notifications less intrusive, while still serving their purpose of informing the user that something they care about has happened?

2 Answers 2


Use a Universal Filter (UF)

One approach I studied and an have used before is to hide and "collect" all notifications for, say, 8 hours (or however many the user designates). Then, at the end of the 8 hours, the user gets ONE notification telling him there's a list of things that had happened.

This allows the user to decide on a specific time when he/she wants to deal with notifications instead of stopping their work every time one comes in. Of course, you risk missing on some important ones this way, but it should be customizable so that some apps still directly notify and others don't, depending on what the user wants.

It's a universal filter - all notifications go through the same funnel which then distributes them based on various settings. A kind of a notification firewall :)

The suggestions you gave can all be implemented into this universal filter as ways to deal with different apps. Maybe the user wants to be notified of the upcoming Justin Bieber album immediately, while their WhatsApp messages they'll deal with later.

Hope this helps!


I think these options are good to go. Mac has default option of 'do not disturb' for notifications. If user prefer they can enable or disable this option.

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