Select a New Mail Notification Style in Mac OS X Mail

Personalize your notifications so you never miss an important email

This article explains how to set up macOS email notifications in the style you choose. You can have notifications linger and nag until you accept them, have quick at-a-glance notifications, or simply a sound.

Information in this article applies to the following operating systems: macOS Catalina (10.15), macOS Mojave (10.14), macOS High Sierra (10.13), macOS Sierra (10.12), OS X El Capitan (10.11), OS X Yosemite (10.10), OS X Mavericks (10.9), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), and OS X Lion (10.7).

Choose a Mail Notification Style

To choose how you want OS X or macOS Mail to alert you about new messages:

  1. Open System Preferences from the Mac Dock or the drop-down menu under the Apple icon at the top of the screen.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. Tap Notifications.

    Notifications in System Preferences
  3. Select Mail in the list of applications in the left panel.

    Mail in the macOS Notifications settings panel
  4. Toggle the slider next to Allow Notifications from Mail to On in macOS Catalina. (Earlier versions of the operating system don't require this step.)

    The "Allow Notifications from Mail" switch in macOS
  5. Choose the style for new message alerts in the Mail alert style section. You have three options: None, Banners, and Alerts.

    Mail alert styles in macOS

Mail Alert Styles

Here's more info about the three possible alert styles:

  • None: No pop-up notifications appear on the screen. Recent messages may still show up in Notification Center. Sounds can play, and Mail can still indicate the number of unread mail messages on the Mail icon in the Dock if the feature is enabled.
  • Banners: Pop-up messages show briefly in the upper-right corner of the display when new emails arrive. They linger briefly and then disappear automatically.
  • Alerts: Pop-up messages appear in the upper-right corner of the desktop when new mail arrives. You must acknowledge the alert message by clicking Open to open the email or Close to dismiss the alert.

Options for Mail Notifications

You have other ways to customize your notifications, too. Check all or none of the boxes at the bottom of the Notifications screen. These include:

  • Show notifications on lock screen.
  • Show notification preview: Choose Always or when unlocked, which protects your privacy when you are away from your computer display.
  • Show in Notification Center: Places the notification in the Notification Center, which is available as a pull-down feature in the upper-right corner of the Mac.
  • Badge app icon: Place the number of unread messages counted in a badge on the Mail applications Dock icon, if this is set up in Mail.
  • Play sound for notifications: You hear an audible alert for new mail if a sound is selected for incoming messages in Mail.

Related Options in Mail Preferences

Not everything is controlled in the Notifications preferences. Some things depend on how you set up the General preferences at Mail > Preferences in the Mail menu bar.

This is where you specify which type of emails you want to receive notifications for. Choose from:

  • Inbox Only.
  • VIPs.
  • Contacts.
  • All Mailboxes.
  • Today.
  • Today's emails.
  • Today's trash.

The same choices are available in the drop-down menu next to Dock unread count, which controls whether a badge for the number of unread emails appears on the Mail icon in the Dock.

The sound alerts are also specified in the Mail preferences screen. The default is New Messages Sound, but you can choose from a collection of other sounds or no sound at all.

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