Favorite Big Sur Feature: Dismiss-able Notifications!

This is my favorite new feature in Big Sur:

Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 5.54.28 PM

It drove me insane that, prior to Big Sur, notifications would pop up on the top right, blocking typically very important controls in my window, leaving me no way to either move them or dismiss them. The only solution, besides turning them off completely, was to wait patiently until they timed out, or to click on them so they would launch some app I don’t want and then go back to the one I was working on.

But now!!!

We have a magical little (X) to dismiss the message! It’s about time! But better late than never!


Previously you could actually flick them back to the right offscreen and they’d usually disappear (it was a bit hit or miss — sometimes they would just bounce back). But yes, this is better.

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That’s still how I dismiss most notifications in Big Sur. A two-finger swipe right on the trackpad dismisses them. It still works.

Interesting!! My initial reaction to your posts were “omg, how did it I miss that??” and then “omg, where have you guys been my whole life?!”

But I also knew I tried all kinds of things, including right-click, etc.

So this morning I went to my Catalina Mac and tried the two-finger swipe, and nothing. Locked in place. I have that gesture configured to “scroll”. Is that also what you have?

Perhaps it depends on the type of notification? Are the dismiss-ability rules different from one type of notification to another?

I’m still on Mojave. I get an (X) if I hover over the notification in the Notification Center.
In general, if you click on any notification outside of any buttons, it opens the app that sent it. The notification goes away.

I used my mouse to grab the notification, rather than two finger swiping, so I don’t know. But it did work for me with the mouse.

Most notifications in Catalina have a Close button, no? I’ve never noticed it being a problem.

I have to say, this dynamic close button in Big Sur is one of the things I like the least, since it’s completely non-discoverable and a very small click target. I haven’t yet investigated if there’s a way to dismiss such notifications from the keyboard using Keyboard Maestro, but I hate playing the game of hovering over the notification to reveal the X and then clicking the tiny thing.

For instance—I just tweaked Mimestream to show alerts rather than banners, and now there’s a nice Close button. Banners go away on their own and don’t need one.

I’ve been able to swipe them away using a 2-fingered swish to the right.

Yes, two-finger swipe on Big Sur is set to scroll. If I hover the mouse cursor over an alert notification until the tine “X” in the upper-left corner is revealed I can swipe the notification away with a two-finger swipe to the right. (This is for alerts from the Calendar app, which stay on screen until they are closed or clicked. Most of my other notifications dismiss on their own after a few seconds, and I only swipe those away when they are blocking another window I am trying to actively use.)

On my iMac, the pointing device I use is a Contour Designs RollerMouse, so no swiping for me on that Mac. And as a result, I’m not a big gesture user on the MacBook.

Unfortunately, I’m too busy right now to access that Mac and provide a screen shot.

But they don’t all have Close buttons, and the ones that don’t occur often enough and are persistent enough to be annoying.

One example I recall may be system software updates (with the gear icon). No Close button. No swipe support. Sits there like a brick blocking important top-right widgets, and my only option was to click on it and let it take me to where IT wanted me to be, only so I could say “shut the heck up” and go back to where I wanted to be.

I will try to dig deeper as time permits!

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I guess the question now becomes if Apple also provides that little cross (or the swipe away gesture) for system update notifications.

I’m not sure I’ve seen any such notifications myself since I believe I didn’t upgrade until after the most recent Big Sur update was released.

I totally agree, Adam! It drives me nuts.

I also have my arrow cursor set to be larger (in Accessibility in Sys Prefs) and that seems to screw it up even more as the arrow tip is not the “hot spot” so to click the little X in the notification I have to hover over it until it appears somewhere hidden underneath the large arrow I use so I can’t see it. And it goes away after like two seconds, so you have to be fast. Therefore probably 80% of the time when I click the X, I miss.

Apparently the folks at Apple don’t test their software with the “larger cursor” option. :roll_eyes:

I agree with you guys that the click target is too small. I have the same issue trying to hit that little x.

I think the even bigger problem for me though is that the far too small click target on Big Sur windows. The largest unoccupied area seems to be above the traffic lights and even that area is very limited. I get that window titles need to be minimized because you’re otherwise wasting too much valuable screen real-estate, but since clicking/dragging a window is such a common task, I think having a suitable click target is also rather important.

I have to start by saying that, when I initiated this post, I thought I’d have a lot of “hear! hear!”; as it is, I find myself trying to convince myself I’m not insane. :crazy_face:


I was not optimistic this evening that I’d be able to recreate one of the Bad Notifications that I’m referring to here, in order to show you what I mean. But as luck would have it, there was one right there on the screen on one of my Catalina Macs.

Attached is a video showing you the Bad Notification, its lack of a Close button, me trying to 2-finger swipe it away to no avail, and then how I end up having to single-click it to appease it. (Right-click / two-finger tap does nothing, either).

The only thing I failed to prove to you in this video is that I have two-finger swipe configured to scroll; but that’s how I set up all my Macs, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

So, there you go.

And I will add that this Apple ID Settings notification isn’t even one of the ones that I recall giving me much trouble; so I know there are other Bad Notifications out there, even if I can’t think of them.

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It’s really annoying that apparently Apple thinks its notifications are so much more important than anything else a user could be doing that theirs are exempt from usual controls. :frowning:

Interesting viewpoint.

I found it immediately discoverable: the very first time you try to process a notification, you discover it. Can’t miss it, in fact. The two-finger swipe, however, is truly non-discoverable. You literally have to come up with the idea yourself and try it before you discover that it exists.

As for the tiny size, it’s no smaller than the red traffic light we close all our windows with, eh? I’m not saying that the larger “Close” button wouldn’t be better, though.

And I will add that the way it converts from (X) to “Close All” is kind of annoying.

Agreed! I think this is being discussed elsewhere, but see the other notification on my screen: “do you want to install these updates NOW or TONIGHT?”

How about NO and NO??

It’s one thing for me to deal with it on my own computers. But I have an aging father who calls me in a kerfuffle every time a message pops up on his screen. I work very hard to disable anything that will keep him from panicking, and Apple is not making my job easy.

Those examples are good ones, and yes, Apple is playing fast and loose there. I guess I can see why they’d think the Apple ID notification was sufficiently important to require people to check it, but the Updates Available one should be dismissable. What’s in that Later button’s menu? (I complained to Flexibits about Fantastical’s reminder notifications not having a Complete button and was told that it was at the bottom of the Snooze button’s menu, something I’d never considered looking at.)

All that said, I can’t two-finger swipe on my iMac and I’ve never really had trouble with making those things go away. Not quite sure why; none have popped up since you raised this topic.