a screenshot of a desktop gmail notification on windows 10
Desktop gmail notifications are handy

I live in Gmail – I have to if I want to keep up with Chrome OS developments, monitor bug reports, and read the handy tips you folks send me!

But it is a lot of information to digest.

So to help me stay on top of everything I use Gmail’s desktop notifications feature.

When enabled and Gmail is open in my browser, I see a pop-up appear on my desktop each time a new mail hits my inbox. A quick glance is all it takes to know if the email is something that requires my immediate attention, or whether it is something I can leave to read later.

I think Gmail’s desktop notifications are really handy. In this post I show you how to enable them via Chrome – and the steps work the same across Windows, macOS, Linux, and ChromeOS.

Enable Gmail Desktop Notifications

turn on gmail desktop alerts

The best part about this tip is that you do not need to install any sort of fancy-pants desktop app, panel applet or browser add-on to get notified of new mail. Gmail has a built in option for it, all you have to do it turn it on!

  1. Open Gmail in a new Google Chrome tab
  2. Click the cog icon > ‘See All Settings’
  3. In the “General” tab scroll to “Desktop Notifications” section
  4. Click on the ‘Click here to enable desktop notifications for Gmail’ link
  5. Click ‘Allow’ on the prompt that appears to enable notifications

With desktop notifications enabled for Gmail you can now pick from 3 notification options:

  • New Mail Notifications – see alerts for all messages that land in your primary inbox
  • Important Mail Notifications – only see alerts for mail marked as ‘important’
  • Mail Notifications Off – don’t show any mail alerts

When you’re happy with your settings you must scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Save Changes’ button to save your settings — don’t just close the tab. If you do, your settings haven’t been saved and you need to repeat the process above.

Now, whenever Gmail is open in Google Chrome (e.g., in a tab) you will see notifications of new e-mails, as per your settings.

Clicking on a Gmail notification will open that mail in Gmail, in a new tab.

You can choose to ignore notifications too, in which case they disappear off the screen after a few seconds.

Turn notifications off

Bored, annoyed, or otherwise done with these notifications? You can turn Gmail notifications off. How? Follow the steps listed above but this time choose the ‘mail notifications off’ setting (remember to click the ‘save changes’ button after doing this).

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