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How to manage your notifications in Windows 10

Windows 10’s Action Center collects all your notifications into a single feed, letting you check in on email alerts, social media updates and breaking news headlines when you return to your PC. If you find your list is getting too long or one app is dominating the entire pane, you can use Action Center’s settings to gain control of what it shows.

Screenshot of the Notifications and actions Windows 10 settings screen

To get started, open the Settings app and head to the System category. Click “Notifications & actions” in the sidebar to open the screen with all of Action Center’s settings. At the top, you’ll see your Quick Actions settings toggles which appear at the bottom of the notification tray. You can change them by pressing and holding them to rearrange their order.

Screenshot of the Notifications and actions Windows 10 settings screen

Scroll down to the “Notifications” part of the screen to customise how new alerts are displayed. In this section, you can change general notifications options that apply to all apps. These include the ability to hide notifications on the lock screen and disable the Windows “tips and tricks” messages. Click any of the toggle buttons to turn the setting on or off. You can turn notifications off entirely with the “Get notifications from apps and other senders” option.

Screenshot of the Notifications and actions Windows 10 settings screen

Unless you really are striving to avoid every notification, you’re probably not looking to block all your apps. To get more fine-grained control, scroll further down the screen to the “Get notifications from these senders” section. Here you’ll see a list of all the apps which have ever displayed a notification. You can toggle each app on and off to change whether it’s allowed to send more alerts in the future.

This lets you disable notifications that are annoying you, such as reminders in games, or sort out duplication issues. This could occur if you’re using two or more apps that display the same content, such as Outlook 2016 and Windows 10 Mail for your email. In this scenario, both apps may display an alert when you get a new email. You can turn one of them off using the notification senders screen.

Screenshot of the Notifications senders Windows 10 settings screen

To get even more precise control over an app, click its name to open its detailed settings. On this screen, you get to choose how notifications are displayed and where they should appear in Action Center. Most of the options are fairly self-explanatory but a few could require more attention.

“Show notification banners” defines whether to show pop-up alerts. If you turn this off, the app can still send notifications but they’ll go straight to Action Center, without displaying a banner at the bottom of your screen. “Keep notifications private on the lock screen” will also hide these banners but only when your PC is locked, protecting your information in apps such as Mail which display a summary in their notifications.

“Show notifications in Action Center” does the opposite of the previous two controls, letting you choose whether alerts are stored in the notification tray after the banner times out. If this is disabled, you’ll get notification alerts but they won’t show up in Action Center afterwards.

Screenshots of Windows 10's per-app notification settings

At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a dropdown box that lets you choose how many notifications to display in Action Center from the app. This controls the number of notifications that appear without you clicking the “Show more” link. You can adjust this to hide or show more or fewer alerts depending on your preference.

The final option lets you choose the priority of the app in Action Center. As the labels suggest, the “Top” app appears at the very top of the tray, alerts from “High” apps come next and “Normal” ones are forced to linger at the bottom. You can have several apps marked as “High” priority but you’ll have to choose a single one for the “Top” position.

Screenshots of Windows 10's per-app notification priority settings

Windows 10 includes powerful and robust notification options that let you choose which alerts you get and how they’re displayed. Although the most detailed settings are fairly well hidden, once you’re familiar with them you can craft your Action Center view to put your most used apps first and stop less important ones overwhelming you.

Many of these options have been available since Windows 10’s launch but the prioritisation features only appeared with the Anniversary Update. If you’re still running one of the earliest versions of Windows 10 you may not see all the controls mentioned above. You can access all of these settings on Windows 10 Mobile, giving you the same control over your mobile notifications as you have on PC.

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Which notifications are your top priorities?