The Windows 10 Action Center: What It Is and How to Use It

Manage the alerts you receive and resolve system notifications

Notifications from Windows Action Center alert you when something needs your attention. Often, these are backup reminders, email notifications, Windows Firewall notifications, and Windows operating system notifications. Responding to Windows Action Center alerts is important because many of them help you maintain your system and keep it healthy. You can control the types of notifications you receive.

Person using the Windows 10 Notification Center
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi 

Information in this article applies to computers running Windows 10.

How to Access and Resolve Notifications in the Action Center

The Windows Action Center appears as a speech bubble in the bottom right corner of the Windows taskbar. A number under the icon indicates you have unresolved notifications.

Notifications appear as pop-ups in the bottom right corner of the screen for a second or two before disappearing. If you click on a notification pop-up, you can deal with the issue immediately. Otherwise, you can access the list of current notifications by selecting the Windows Action Center icon on the Taskbar. Click any notification to learn more or resolve the issue. Select Clear all notifications to dismiss them all.

The Windows Action Center icon on the taskbar

The Action Center is sometimes referred to as the Notification Center; the two terms are used synonymously.

How to Control the Notifications You Receive

Apps, email programs, social media websites, OneDrive, and printers, are also allowed to use the Action Center to send you alerts and information. Fortunately, you can stop unwanted notifications by going into your computer's Settings.

Before you start disabling notifications though, understand that some notifications are necessary and should not be disabled. For example, you need to know if Windows Firewall has been disabled, perhaps maliciously by a virus or malware. You also want to be made aware of system issues, such as failures to download or install Windows updates or problems found by a recent scan via Windows Defender.

To change the number and types of notifications you receive through the Action Center:

  1. Select the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of the taskbar, then select the gear to open the computer's Settings.

    icon and Settings icon highlighted in Windows.
  2. Select System in the Windows Settings screen.

    Windows Settings with System highlighted
  3. Select the Notifications & Actions tab in the left panel. Scroll down to Notifications and set the switches for the notifications you want to disable to Off.

    Notifications & Actions tab selected with Notifications highlighted
  4. Scroll down to Get Notifications From These Senders to enable or disable notifications for individual apps.

    Get Notifications From These Senders section of Notificatons & Actions

Important Action Center Notifications

Leave notifications for the following apps enabled so that you don't miss out on important updates regarding the health of your system:

  • AutoPlay: Provides prompts regarding what to do when new media is connected including phones, CDs, DVDs, USB drives, and backup drives.
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption: Provides prompts for the protection for your computer when BitLocker is configured for use.
  • OneDrive: Provides notifications when syncing to OneDrive fails or conflicts occur.
  • Security and Maintenance: Provides notifications regarding Windows Firewall, Windows Defender, backup tasks, and other system events.
  • Windows Update: Provides notifications regarding updates to your system.

Maintaining Your System With Windows Action Center

As you continue to use your Windows 10 computer, keep an eye on the notification area of the Taskbar. If you see a number on the Notification Center icon, click it and review the alerts listed there under Action Center. Make sure to resolve the following issues as quickly as possible:

  • Windows notifications
  • Windows Firewall notifications
  • Windows 10 operating system alerts
  • Windows apps alerts and updates
  • Windows Update alerts
  • Windows Defender alerts
  • Backup device alerts
  • OneDrive notifications

Clicking on an alert often opens the required solution. For example, if you click a notification that the Windows Firewall has been disabled, the Windows Firewall settings window opens. From there, you can turn the Firewall back on.

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