How-To Geek

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


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


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


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 to show desktop notifications. Click Allow.


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:


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

Comments (18)

  1. Cambo

    May be a silly question, but does this require Chrome to always be running?

  2. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Cambo: Yup, if you turn Chrome off (or log out of Gmail for that matter) it turns off.

  3. Venus

    you are better off downloading gmail notifier which starts when windows starts and keep running in the tray and notify you whenever email arrives. You dont need chrome or anything for that.

  4. Nicklas

    I’m currently running Digsby, which includes a small application that checks your mail in a set interval and pops up with a fancy little box every time i get a new email. The best thing about it, though, is the inbox-preview that shows up when i click the icon in the system tray, you gotta love that!

    It’s too bad it’s boundled with Digsby. If it was seperate, many more would use it.

  5. Sam Jones

    I think it is worth remembering that Google has a the approach of releasing features and developing them continualy in situ and therefore likely to add functionality as time goes on. It also depends on the build you have but in later Chrome builds it is started as a service I think for Cloud Print and background web apps etc so these kind of notifications could be run as background web apps in the near future.

  6. Robert

    Zero Wing & and maybe transformers

  7. UberTechophile

    Have you figured any way to customize the fonts on the notifications? Just that I think Segoe UI pt.9 would fit in beautifully with Windows 7.

  8. Zack

    I don’t need this because in my main OS, Ubuntu, I have an app called Gmail Notifier that is basically an Evolution notification, but I don’t need Evolution running or even have to use it. It uses the same icon and setup.

  9. Hatryst

    “All your base are belong to us”
    Always wondered what’s this about?!

  10. Asian Angel

    @Hatryst – This is my only exposure to it before now. I remember a friend of mine sharing the video with me while I was going to uni. ^_^

    All Your Base Are Belong To Us

  11. Hatryst

    Oh, it turns out, its an internet meme :D

  12. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Hatryst: Next up…. Bagger 288!

  13. PiRhAnAs

    What are these apps in your tray..??

    Can you please tell me??

  14. Phil Ruse

    Was looking for the info about whether you needed to have gmail open in a tab – my own tests seemed to show this was the case – but it’s good to see it confirmed :-)

    Do you know if they’ll ever integrate mail with the Chrome browser more directly – such that we don’t need the tab, only the browser, open? That’d be nice!

  15. Barkhat

    Ooh! Where can I get that pretty wallpaper in your notification screenshot?

  16. Schale01

    @Venus Unless of course you are using this on a share or work computer in which case that would be the worst solution. I for one find these notifiers to be very useful at my work computer, however said computer is used by multiple employees so I don’t want it having too much integration into my email.
    Chrome + incognito mode makes me feel much better about this.

  17. Sophia

    Is it possible for there to be a sound when you get an email? It would be great if I could hear it when i’m away from the computer (and waiting for something important)!

  18. Philip

    Ya, I second what Sophia said.

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