Disable Notification Center & Remove the Menu Bar Icon in OS X

Aug 6, 2012 - 54 Comments

Notification Center is a great addition to OS X but not everyone likes it, sometimes just muting the alert sounds and turning banners and alert pop-ups off per-app is just not enough, and you may want to disable the entire notification system completely. Furthermore, if you don’t use Notifications on the Mac then you probably don’t want the menu bar icon sitting in the corner of your screen either. We’ll show you how to disable Notification Center, all alerts, and also remove the icon from the corner of the menu bar in OS X.

Disable Notification Center and remove the icon from the menu bar in Mac OS X

This will also completely disable all pop-up alerts and Notification banners in OS X. If you still want to receive alerts and banners, do not completely disable the notification center.

How to Disable Notification Center Completely & Remove the Menu Bar Icon in Mac OS X

This is the preferred method, it works to totally turn off the Notification system within OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Mavericks:

  • Open Terminal and enter the following command:
  • launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist

  • Next type the following command to kill NotificationCenter:
  • killall NotificationCenter

  • Finally, quit out of Terminal and return to Finder

ALL alerts, banners, and notifications will no longer appear on the Mac. This is system-wide and application-wide, impacting all apps in OS X. Note this unloads Notification Center for the current user only and does not require admin access.

To re-enable Notifications and Notification Center with all alerts using launchctl, use the following approach and command string:

  • Launch Terminal and enter a similar command – notice load instead of unload:
  • launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist

  • Hit Command+Shift+G and go to /System/Library/CoreServices/ then find “Notification Center” and double-click it to launch it again

Thanks to ganbustein for the launchctl method!

For completeness, we will include the older approach that is less preferred given the simplicity of the launchctl method outlined above, but it does work in OS X for those interested:

  1. From the OS X Finder, hit Command+Shift+G and enter the path to /System/Library/CoreServices/
  2. Locate “Notification Center.app” and click on the name to rename it to “Notification Center-disabled.app”, authenticate the change when prompted
  3. Now launch Terminal, found in /Applications/Utilities/ and type the following command:
  4. killall NotificationCenter

  5. Quit out of Terminal

Notifications will no longer be posted, alerts will be gone, and the menu bar icon is no longer visible. If you do attempt to get to Notification Center either through a keyboard shortcut or the sideways swipe, you’ll be presented with a blank side of the screen.

The entire thing can be completed in less than a minute, as demonstrated in this quick walkthrough video:

Re-enable Notification Center & Bring Back the Menu Bar Icon

Notification Center is not permanently disabled though, you can always turn it back on and get the icon back to to the menu bar just as easily.

  1. Return to /System/Library/CoreServices/ and rename “Notification Center-disabled.app” to “Notification Center.app” again
  2. Double-click “Notification Center” to relaunch the service and bring back the icon

Notifications will be working as normal again, as will the icon.

Thanks to Paul for the tip idea!

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

54 Comments

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  1. Will says:

    Darn you got there just before I did. :)

  2. Ken says:

    Why would anyone want to do this? Who would have thought that geeks could also be luddites, and would smother new features in the cradle, before they even have a chance to prove their value?

    I guess it’s possible to hack Mountain Lion back to Snow Leopard, but I don’t see the point.

    • Miguel says:

      Those of us who are not social butterflies or half-arsed middle-managers really do not need the clutter of “notifications” in our lives. This PIM sillines is for the likes of Arnold J. Rimmer. (Google him, you don’t know REd Dwarf.) 90% of the stuff I get via email can wait…FOREVER! (While not exactly spam, per se, automated crap from eBay or Goodreads.com is not something I gotta know about stat!)

      Smother new features?! A NEW FEATURE would be something useful like ditching that decades-old HFS+ filesystem for something a little more modern that might notice when your files get corrupted! (Btw, the filesystem gripe applies to NTFS and EXT3,4,etc.)

      Weren’t computers-of-the-future foreseen in the 70s to keep people from having to do mindless, repetitive activities? Instead, they seem to be conditioning us to behave like machines ourselves.

      If shunning ArseBook and Twatter makes me a Luddite, so be it!

      • mrsleep says:

        Amen, sing it to heavens! You are right on, and these people whining are dinks. Not everyone wants the same things, we should be able, especially with computers, to be able to pick and choose which features we want to use. I have NO need for notifications on my computer, I have a phone for that, and toolbar space is at a premium, I don’t need a useless to me icon on there. The fact that I have to drop to a command line to acheive this is outright ridiculous.

    • Rico says:

      I agree! If you don’t want notification center, then why’d you upgrade!?!

      • cnn says:

        because there are features of ML that are useful to some while other features are not.

        NC sucks. checking my mail in sparrow does not dismiss it in NC. so i need to do extra work. i dont need NC, but upgraded because icloud is useful to me.

      • Cahil says:

        I didn’t upgrade in order to have a notification center. Many applications require Mountain Lion such as Xcode.

        Makes sense?

        Additionally, I don’t get the idea that Apple dictates a totally extra feature and pushes people to find a way to get rid of it.

        Totally agree with Miguel. Seems hipsters are the new target audience of Apple.

      • JD says:

        Rico, did you really upgraded to ML just because of Notification Center? Didn’t you know there are a few more new features in ML?

        Anyways, I don’t need Notification Center either! (I hate it actually) I upgraded to Mountain Lion because of other features/software I find useful.

    • James says:

      Hey, if you like daily notifications about OSX updates that cannot be dismissed, or turned off; then power to you.

      Personally that’s the only form of notification I get (calendar, mail etc. all runs through different systems).

      Notifications about things that are almost definitely not going to matter to me at the time, that I can’t even dismiss without launching the App Store? no

  3. I don’t mind the notification center in general, but I hate the new reminder system. With Lion and earlier, the calendar items to which I assign an alarm give me a popup in the center of the screen, with a pull-down menu to remind me later. I like that screen because it has options like “remind me 2 hours before the event starts”, but with Mountain Lion, it seems the only option we have is “Snooze” which seems to be only about 10 minutes.

    Have we found a way to adjust these settings? I see the options for banner vs. alerts, but are there no options for the Alerts themselves? This is one of those “little” things that isn’t so little in practice.

  4. Really useful tuts. This is what I’m looking for! Thank you.

  5. Krista says:

    Thanks for the tip :-)

    Tips are always welcome, please keep up the excellent work mates!

  6. JohnyMyko says:

    Is it possible to keep using notification center but just remove the icon?

  7. Paul says:

    Awesome!! Thanks so much guys.

  8. Tim says:

    There are plenty of new features in ML that I do not use and have disabled, such as the Notification center. I upgraded because ML is more stable than Lion and is better suited to the MBP Retina machine. And it was free with my purchase, so why not upgrade? As for notifications themselves, I’ve always used the free Herald plug-in for Mail. It’s much more customizable and gives me more options than does the Notification method. I also have other types of reminder programs – such as ImOnTime – that I’ve used for years and that are light years ahead of these rudimentary applications that ML is offering.

  9. MT says:

    After trying this tip and reverting it, Notification Center doesn’t automatically launch on startup/login, even though I’ve relaunched it from the Finder. Any solutions?

    • bd says:

      Be sure it’s renamed properly

      • MT says:

        I’ve copied the original ‘Notification Center.app’ from my TM Backups back to my system folder, and deleted the old one. Now it seems to be working properly. It appears this trick corrupts the original file.
        Adding Noticiation Center.app to my startup items did not do it for me however.

  10. Habakuk says:

    That isn’t the culprit. I named it properly.

    I put Notification Center into Settings > Account > Startup Items and now it will autostart again. But it seems to be a dirty solution. It should autostart without this.

    The Notification Center icon in Finder is gone as well…

    Beware of this tip!!!

    • Habakuk says:

      I copied the file from another machine with 10.8 (deleted the corrupted one before) and now everything seems to be okay (even without the special startup item). And the Notification Center.app has no special icon.

      ¡¡¡ So it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to BACKUP your original Notification Center.app BEFORE renaming !!! The tip (renaming) will corrupt your file!

  11. Nick says:

    Hi guys,

    A little off topic. I just accidentally hit the notification center button in the menu bar while holding down the option key. This turns the button grey, and it turns black when you hit it again. Anyone knows what this feature is? Is all notifications silenced?

    Thanks,
    Nick

  12. PA says:

    Perhaps a more straightforward way to disable Notification Center is to just change its execution bit:

    sudo chmod 600 /System/Library/CoreServices/NotificationCenter.app/Contents/MacOS/NotificationCenter

    • PA says:

      Turns out either renaming NotificationCenter.app or changing its execution bit is not such clever idea after all, as the LaunchAgent will try to start it over again, creating a mess.

      Of course one can always disable the LaunchAgent configuration by renaming the relevant plist to something else:

      /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist

      For example by adding a trailing ‘-’ to the plist name.

      Once the configuration is disabled, and after restart, NotificationCenter.app will be out of the way.

  13. K11h says:

    Does anyone know how to just remove the menubar icon, but still retain Notification Center? I use a keyboard shortcut to access NC (or a swipe). The icon is superfluous.

  14. ganbustein says:

    Boo, hiss!!!

    This is the wrong solution, on two grounds.

    First, you’re modifying the contents of your /System folder, which is never a good idea.

    Second, it’s a UI change, which should be done on a user-by-user basis.

    The correct way to disable the notification center for the current user is by entering the Terminal command:

    launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist

    To turn it on again, repeat the command, saying load instead of unload:

    launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist

    Either command affects only the current user, which therefore does not need to be an admin. It makes no permanent change inside /System.

    After entering either command, you need to return to Finder to give the menubar a chance to lay itself out again.

    • PA says:

      Ah, yes, much excellent, launchctl is definitively the way to do :)

      Thanks!

    • PA says:

      While we are at it… would you know of a clean way to unload com.apple.Dock.plist?

      $ sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Dock.plist
      launchctl: Error unloading: com.apple.Dock.agent

      What would be the correct way to disable the Dock?

      • PA says:

        Never mind… a case of PEBKAC… launchctl unload -w does work as advertised :)

        launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Dock.plist

    • John says:

      HI
      I TRIED THIS METHOD on my laptop – it worked fine
      but on my mac mini (same system 10.8 on both) and received this error message:

      launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist
      launchctl: CFURLCreateDataAndPropertiesFromResource(/System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist) failed: -10
      launchctl: no plist was returned for: /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist
      launchctl: no plist was returned for: /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist
      nothing found to unload

  15. als says:

    This is so awesome thanks so much for the post!

  16. Olly says:

    Er…

    Thank you for the information. I’ve disabled the thing.

    But I still get annoying little ‘mini-notifications’ top right of my screen. Have I done something stupid? (As usual).

  17. smctech says:

    you can make this trick survive restarts by doing this
    sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui Disabled -bool true

    for some crazy reason the permissions went squanch-wise so I also need to do
    sudo chmod 755 /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist

    and you can re-enable it by going back to false
    sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui Disabled -bool false

  18. Mr J says:

    Thanks for this – for me it’s an unnecessary workflow interruption.

    Bizarre though, that you can’t simply disable it in preferences.

  19. Mr J says:

    Even quicker and seems to work:

    Option-click the icon top right.

    Greys it out

    ;-)

    • lhl says:

      Only for a single day, then it comes back. Especially if you have Apps that aren’t updatable (or are avoiding a Software Update), then you will constantly have the notification pop up/never go away (there’s no way to take it out of the Notifications preferences).

      Unloading via launchctl is the only solution.

  20. To remove the free space immediately, execute “killall Dock” in the CLI.

  21. Mr M says:

    Thank you for this. That annoying update reminder was killing me. I’ll update my computer on my time, piss off Apple.

  22. Rolston says:

    Thanx a ton guys ! That was cool |B

  23. Jimbotron says:

    Thank you very much for this! Despite what some people seem to suggest, there are indeed other reasons to upgrade to MS beside the notifications bar. My objection is simply that it is not customizable. I do not need to be reminded every day of pending upgrades; I sort them out on my own, with my own schedule, like an adult, rather than with mom nagging me to clean my room. For the rest of you out there complaining about our wanting to disable this feature: really? Does it affect your user experience? No. So why not just be quiet about it? I disabled it and I’m happier for it! Thanks again.

  24. free says:

    I tried all steps to enable notification, but it still missing from my mackbook air. Also tried customize ,show all preferences in sys prefer..wht to do to get the notification center.pls help.

  25. lou says:

    Hey !

    Thanks a lot.. it was so annoying to get all those reminders for updates available when you’re actually doing something else and you don’t care. I got rid of all the apps notifications but couldn’t with those ones. I was always pushing them back on the side and they’d reappear every 5 min.

    And get them back is so easy as well, when you’re more in the mood.

    cheers guys

  26. verpixelt says:

    How do you deal with the dying battery message in Mavericks? If you remove the notification center, there is no way you’ll get noticed about that.

  27. kalyan says:

    I’ve been looking to re-enable Notification Center.. but now its back. Thanks for your help

  28. mvaneijgen says:

    Where did CoreServices go in Mavericks

  29. deano says:

    This didn’t work. I got the following messages in the terminal:
    usage: launchctl load [-wF] [-D ] paths…
    followed by:
    Permission denied

  30. Mike McNeil says:

    I set up a couple of quick bash aliases based on this article (mainly just in case I can’t find this page again later, but also because sometimes I want to switch Notification Center on or off quickly)

    In case this helps anyone else, I put it in gist-form for quick reference:
    https://gist.github.com/mikermcneil/10005651

    Basically, to add the aliases, run the following command in your terminal:

    “`sh
    echo >> ~/.profile && echo >> ~/.profile && echo ‘# Disable/enable notification center’ >> ~/.profile && echo ‘alias disableNotificationCenter=”launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist && killall NotificationCenter”‘ >> ~/.profile && echo ‘alias enableNotificationCenter=”launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist && open /System/Library/CoreServices/NotificationCenter.app/”‘ >> ~/.profile && source ~/.profile
    “`

    Then, whenever you want, you can run:

    “`
    disableNotificationCenter
    “`

    or

    “`
    enableNotificationCenter
    “`

  31. Marc says:

    I don’t like the notification centre so I removed it, as suggested above, but now I have the problem that I don’t get notified about low battery! I’ve had my computer switch off a couple of times because I didn’t realise that it was on low battery and it’s getting annoying! Any suggestions?

    • Marc says:

      Update: I saw the comment about bartender. It’s really cool, I like it a lot. So my temporary solution is re-enabling notification center but using bartender to hide it… Any suggestions about the first question are still welcomed!

    • dougla says:

      Enable the battery menu percentage icon and keep a close watch on it?

  32. Anton says:

    Notifications is the thing everybody is working on now. Had to uninstall chrome on windows to get rid of the bell. Fortunately it is still possible to turn it off in OSX. But do not take it for granted, chrome started with the possibility to remove the bell before they upgraded to 35…

  33. K D says:

    Thank you so much, this was so helpful. Finally got rid of the annoying annoying annoying notification. Do these people know anything about micro interaction, is this user friendly!!!!!???

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