Tired of the tiny one-line notification window you get from Apple Mail on your iMac or MacBook and wish there was something better? There is. Herald.
If you get a lot of email flowing into your mailbox, you might have gotten a bit fed up with the standard Apple Mail notification window. It’s small, it’s not particularly useful, and there’s nothing you can do with it other than click to open up mail or switch into the mail program. Surely there’s something better? There is, and don’t call me Shirley! 🙂
There are actually a couple of different notification plugins for the latest version of Apple Mail but my favorite choice to upgrade your experience is the freeware Herald, by developer Erik Hinterbichler. Install it, disable notifications for the regular Apple Mail message, and you’ll be amazed at what an upgrade you’ve just implemented. Let’s go through the steps…
T0 start, here’s a typical standard Apple Mail incoming message notification in El Capitan (macOS X 10.12.x):
Not very scintillating at all, and the icon is for Mail, not even a picture of the person who sent the message.
So let’s fix it. Jump over to Erik’s site, download and install Herald. It’s super easy.
That’s it. By default it will show much smarter and more useful notifications:
The buttons along the bottom let you react to the message too, you can delete it, mark it as spam, respond, view it within Apple Mail and mark it as read (reading the buttons left to right). Or ignore it and the notification window will go away.
Problem is, at this point you haven’t turned off the standard Apple Mail notifications and Apple Mail isn’t smart enough to detect that there’s a new notification system. So you have to fix it. To do so, go into your System Preferences (off the Apple Menu, most easily) and look for “Notifications“, then find “Mail”:
You can see above the various options, but all you really need to do is uncheck all the boxes. Done.
Now while you’re configuring things, back in Apple Mail, choose “Preferences” from the “Mail” menu. Along the top of the Preferences window you’ll notice a new icon:
Click on it and you’ll see that Erik has given you a lot of ways you can tweak the behavior of your notifications:
From a productivity perspective, I encourage you to change a few settings. First, don’t have notifications show up immediately but instead set them to batch display every 15-30 minutes or longer. Second, I don’t like notifications that sit until you do something about them, so I also change “automatically hide notifications” to 10 seconds rather than never.
Along the tab row, also click on “Appearance” to get to some additional settings, ones that let you fine-tune the appearance (no surprise) of the notification window:
As you can see, there are more headers and more buttons available. I’m a pretty minimalistic guy, so my settings end up producing this nice “translucent light” notification when I’m done fiddling:
A definite upgrade from the standard Mail notification, I’d say!