How to Change How OS X Groups Notifications

If you use a Mac, then you’re likely familiar with OS X’s notification system. It will alert you throughout the day to breaking news, new messages, system events, and more. What you may not know is you can change how OS X groups these notifications.

By default, OS X groups notifications by most recent. This is fine if you’re glued to your computer all day and you catch notifications as they happen, but if you’re away from your desk for awhile, you’ll have to go through the entire list to see what popped up while you were away.

You can change this behavior by opening up OS X’s System Preferences and clicking “Notifications”.

Once you’re in the Notifications preferences, you will see a dropdown menu at the bottom of the panel that says “Notification Center sort order”.

If you change the sort order to “Recents by App” then your notifications will be sorted by app and subsequently by each app’s most recent notifications. In the following example, The New York Times posted a notification yesterday at 5:31 PM, so it will appear as the most recent app, followed by Apple Mail, which alerted us to a new message at 3:54 PM, and so on. The Notification Center will then group each app’s notifications so they all appear together.

The third way of sorting notifications is to group them by app manually, and may be the most preferable. This ensures that the notifications you want to see the most are always shown at the top whenever possible.

To sort app group notifications manually, you will need to click and drag apps into the order you desire in the left sidebar. In the following example, we’ve sorted Slack notifications and Safari notifications so they appear at the top, which means we’ll always see notifications from those two apps, whenever they occur.

You can then continue to go through and sort apps by the order you deem most important, and obviously you can still change the behavior of each too, including simply turning off notifications for each app that you either don’t use or want to see notifications from.

No doubt, with your newfound sorting abilities, OS X’s Notification Center will be far more valuable to you. By being able to sort notifications in the order you desire, you’re assured of never missing out on something important.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.