In Windows 8, Microsoft finally introduced system-wide notifications to its flagship OS, letting Windows and apps notify uses of important events when needed. But Windows 10 finally makes this functionality complete, adding a notification center called Action Center that is used to access and manage missed notifications.
As with Windows 8 before it, Windows 10 supports lock screen notifications and pop-up “toast” notifications for both the system and apps. But the full-screen modal app notifications introduced in Windows 8 are no longer modal in Windows 10 and now appear in floating windows over apps.
The introduction of Action Center—first introduced in Windows Phone 8.1 and not to be confused with a previous Windows feature called Action Center—is of course the biggest change to notifications in Windows 10. As with notification center interfaces found in mobile OSes like Android or iOS (or Windows Phone, of course), Action Center is hidden by default and collects the system and app notifications you have not explicitly responded to. This is important because you could easily miss a pop-up notification. And in Windows 8, there was no way to see what you missed.
Action Center is invoked by selecting the Action Center icon in the system tray, by swiping in from right screen edge on a touch screen, or by typing WINKEY + A. The larger top area of this pane is used to hold missed notifications, while the bottom area houses a collapsible grid of Quick Action tiles, which are frequently-needed system settings like Wi-Fi, screen brightness, Airplane Mode and the like.
Notifications will vary from app to app. But you can perform the following actions here.
Close a notification. If you wish to close a notification, just select the Close (“x”) button at the right of the notification.
Close all notifications. Select “Clear all” at the top of Action Center to close all notifications.
Expand and collapse an individual notification. By default, each notification is collapsed and provides a minimal amount of information. You can, however, expand a notification to see more by selecting the little chevron icon below the Close button.
Respond to a notification. To respond to a notification, select it in the list of notifications. This will trigger the related app and navigate correctly to the item that triggered the notification. For example, if you select the notification shown above, Task Manager runs and displays the Startup tab automatically. If you select an email message, the Mail app will run and display that email message. When you respond to a notification this way, it is removed from Action Center.
You can also configure certain options related to notifications and Action Center in Settings. To do so, open Settings (WINKEY + I) and navigate to System, Notifications & Actions.
The following options are related to notifications:
Show me tips about Windows. Enabled by default, this option will let Windows pop-up helpful tips about using Windows 10.
Show app notifications. Enabled by default, this option determines whether apps are allowed to display pop-up notifications.
Show notifications on the lock screen. Also enabled by default, this option determines whether notifications are displayed on the lock screen.
Hide notifications while presenting. Disabled by default, you can use this option to prevent Windows from displaying pop-up notifications when you are using PowerPoint or projecting the display to a second screen for presentations.
Show notifications from these apps. Here, you can determine which apps are allowed to display pop-up notifications. (Remember that no notifications will appear if you disabled “Show app notifications.”)