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Productivity

Quick Tip: A Tour of the Notification Center Changes in Mavericks

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Notification Center arrived, last year, with the release of OS X Mountain Lion. It replaced Growl, a popular third-party notification system, and made our lives much easier by integrating Facebook and Twitter for message and mention notifications. It keeps your Mac and Web experience unified, as well as making common tasks like checking email less necessary.

Mavericks adds to Notification Center with inline replies -- a quick way to send messages, a slight redesign, and more. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how these features can help you in an average day.


Inline Replies and Other Quick Actions Within a Notification

Switching apps to reply to something seems like an archaic method of multitasking. That’s why Apple integrated inline replies in Mavericks’ Notification Center, or, what they call “Interactive Notifications”. This means you can reply to an iMessage without leaving the app you’re currently using, and should lessen the distraction a bit.

True quick reply.
True quick reply.

Inline replies currently only work with Messages, but developers should update their apps with support in due time. To use the feature, simply hover over a message notification and click the Reply button. The lower portion of the notification will expand to become a text field. Type your message and press return to send it. The notification will slide up and off the screen. You can always click the top of the notification to open the app. Otherwise, clicking and dragging right still hides it.

A test email sent to myself.
A test email sent to myself.

Another stock app supporting interactive notifications is Mail. If you receive a new message, you will have the option to Reply or Delete it right from the notification. Please note that deleting an email will not mark it as read. Also, if you have Mail set to the Alert format, however, the option to delete a message will not be shown in its notification. Instead, the Close button is present to dismiss the alert. If you prefer to quickly delete a message, change your alert style to Banners.


Browser Notifications When Safari Isn’t Open

A sample of always-on browser notifications from Apple.
A sample of always-on browser notifications from Apple.

Not everyone uses Twitter to keep up with news. Some people prefer to keep up with the many blogs available on the Internet. In this case, there’s a new way to stay up to date in Safari: always-on notifications. This means that you’ll always know when you’ve been mentioned in a chat room (hopefully Google adds this to Hangouts eventually) just like with Facebook or Twitter. The same goes for an item you’ve sold or an auction you’ve won on eBay, as Apple shows on the Notifications product page. All of this, obviously, is subject to each website adding support for it.

Tip: When you disconnect an external device without ejecting it, OS X now warns you using Notification Center.

Should you find a Web app that does support this new feature, simply click the Allow button when it asks to send you notifications just as you would with any other supporter of Notification Center. If you want to switch off the feature, go to Safari’s Preferences, select the Notifications tab, and either Remove the app from the list or Deny its permission.


See Notifications You Missed

Keep track of your notifications from the lock screen.

Keep track of your notifications from the lock screen.

On an iOS device, the lock screen is a great place to check what you’ve missed, whether it was a Facebook message or new email. OS X has that now, too. To enable this feature on a specific app, launch System Preferences and navigate to the Notifications pane. In the left sidebar, select the app you want to see notifications from and check the box beside “Show notifications on lock screen”. If you also wish to see a preview of the notification on the lock screen, click the drop-down beside “Show message preview” and select Always. Otherwise, the default setting is to keep your notifications private when your Mac is locked.


Back to Work!

I’ve shown you how to respond to clients without leaving the app you’re in, delete email with one click, and see check in on your digital life from the lock screen. The last feature is very niche, but not everyone is okay with leaving their computer unlocked in a public place. They may have a phone call to take, and during it, check to see if they received any new email.

I’m sure you’ll find your own use for each of these new features. If you have any queries related to this tutorial, feel free to post them in the comments.

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