How to Enable Desktop Notifications for Gmail in Chrome

Last year Google rolled out desktop notifications for Google Calendar, now you can get Gmail and Gchat notifications on your desktop too. Read on as we walk you through configuring them both.

Chrome’s desktop notifications are clean, easy to read, and really handy for keeping an eye on what’s going on inside Gmail without keeping the browser focused on it. Setting it up is easy, grab your copy of Chrome to follow along.

Turn on Desktop Notifications

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Before you can take advantage of Chrome’s notification power you’ll have to turn them on. Click on the wrench in the upper right corner and navigation to Options –> Under the Hood –> Content settings… and then from within the Content menu navigate to Notifications. There you should check Ask me when a site wants to show desktop notifications. Close out the options menu and return back to the main browser pane in Chrome.

Enable Notifications within Gmail

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Fire up Gmail and navigate to the Settings –> General. Scroll down until you see the Desktop notifications sub-section:

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First, click the blue link that says “Click here to enable desktop notifications…”. Your link will likely say “for Gmail”, in our case it says How-To Geek Mail because of our Google Apps domain. When you click it, a blue bar will appear at the top of your browser asking if you want to allow mail.google.com to show desktop notifications. Click Allow.

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Toggle the notifications you’d like to receive to on. In this case we’ll toggle email notifications on and take it for a test drive. Don’t forget to scroll down and click Save Changes.

Time to test it out. Fire of an email to the Gmail account you just enabled notifications from (send it from another email address, sometimes you don’t get notifications if you send them from your main address to yourself). Also, make sure you have Gmail open in a tab somewhere in Chrome. This is important; the notifications will only work if you’re actually logged into Gmail with Gmail open in a tab.

Let’s fire off an email and see how it works:

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Success! By way of the moon law all your base are now belong to us! (Extra credit points for successfully identifying the two parts of my double obscure reference in the prior sentence.)

Before we go, one last tip; If you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of emails popping up, it might be time to turn on the Priority Inbox.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/1/11
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