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The Messages app on Mac works exactly like its iPhone and iPad counterpart, allowing you to send iMessages to other Apple devices. If you’d rather keep your messages separate, you can turn off Messages on macOS following these instructions.

These instructions will work for Catalina, but you might find the steps vary for older versions of macOS. This will only disable iMessages and SMS messages (if you have an iPhone) on your Mac,  but you can also disable iMessage on an iPhone or iPad if you want to.

RELATED: How to Disable and Deactivate iMessage on iPhone or iPad

Turning Off Notifications for the Messages App on Mac

Before you disable iMessage, you should consider disabling notifications for the Messages app first. This will allow you to continue to send and receive messages in the Messages app, but you’ll only be able to view the messages when you open the app.

RELATED: How to Turn Off Annoying Mac Notifications

To do this, open the System Preferences app. You can launch this by clicking the Apple menu in the top-left of the menu bar and then pressing the “System Preferences” option.

Click the Apple menu icon > System Preferences to access the macOS System Preferences app

In the System Preferences app, click the “Notifications” option.

Click Notifications in the System Preferences app

In the “Notifications” menu in System Preferences, you’ll see a list of apps capable of launching notifications in a menu on the left. Scroll through this list and click the “Messages” option.

You can customize how your notifications appear using the options shown under the “Messages Alert Style” section.

To hide notification alerts from appearing in the top right, click the “None” alert style option.

Click Messages > None to disable notification alerts from the Messages app on macOS

To disable all notifications from the Messages app, press the “Allow Notifications from Messages” slider. The toggle will turn gray when disabled.

Click the "Allow Notifications From Messages" slider to disable all notifications from the Messages app on macOS

This will completely disable all notifications from the Messages app, but you’ll still receive messages in the background and can view them in the Messages app at any time.

Disabling the Messages App on Mac

If you’d rather disable the Messages app on macOS completely, it’s a fairly simple process. To start, open the Messages app by clicking the Messages icon on the Dock.

Click the "Messages" app on the Dock to launch the Messages app

If you’ve removed it from the Dock, you can launch Messages from the Launchpad (which you can launch by clicking the Launchpad icon on the Dock). Alternatively, you can launch the application from the Applications folder in the Finder app.

Launch the Messages app from the Applications Folder in Finder

You’ll need to access the Preferences menu for Messages to disable it. To do this, click Messages > Preferences from the menu bar at the top of your Mac’s screen.

Click Messages > Preferences to access the preferences menu for the Messages app on macOS

In the Messages Preferences menu that appears, click the “iMessage” tab. To completely disable the Messages app, click the “Sign Out” button next to your Apple ID under the “Settings” tab.

If you’d rather leave your account signed in, uncheck the “Enable This Account” and “Enable Messages in iCloud” checkboxes.

Click Sign Out, or uncheck all the relevant checkboxes, to disable the Messages app on macOS

Your settings will be applied automatically, so you can close the Messages Preferences menu once you’re finished. Messages from iMessage will no longer appear in your Messages app until you sign in again or otherwise re-enable your account.

Ben Stockton Ben Stockton
Ben Stockton is a freelance tech writer from the United Kingdom. In a past life, he was a UK college lecturer, training teens and adults. Since leaving the classroom, he's been a tech writer, writing how-to articles and tutorials for MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and Cloudwards.net. He has a degree in History and a postgraduate qualification in Computing.
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