Desktop notifications for Google Calendar in Chrome

By default, Google Calendar shows notifications as alert boxes inside Chrome; like the one shown below.

Default alert box for Google Calendar

Why desktop notifications are better than alerts

These alerts are visible only when the Calendar tab is active. So if the Chrome window is not active or you are viewing another tab inside Chrome, you will not see the alert. Chrome’s alerts are not really cut out for Calendar notifications. Web-pages usually show them in response to some user action, like loading the page or closing the page. This means that most of the time an alert is shown, the user will be viewing the page in question. Even when this is not the case, you can expect the user to come back to the page if the alert is in response to some user action.

Google Calendar notifications are triggered by a Scheduler. They may become useless if there is a delay before the user sees them. For scheduled notifications, Chrome’s standard notifications are a much better fit. Google Calendar calls these notifications Desktop Notifications. As the name suggests, they are shown on the desktop and not inside the Chrome window. Here is how it looks.

Google Calendar Desktop Notification

These notifications are shown even when the Chrome window is not active. You might be wondering why Desktop Notifications are not the default if they are better suited for Google Calendar. This is because the Calendar app requires user permission before it can show Desktop Notifications.

Compromise needed to get Desktop Notifications to work

Notifications are a big improvement over alerts, but they too have a major limitation; big enough be a deal-breaker for many. The notifications are shown by the Calendar web-page. So the page must be open in Chrome for notifications to work. Here is something you can do to make this a little less tedious. You don’t have to open the Google Calendar page manually each time you start Chrome; you can try the pin tab option in Chrome. Right-click on the Google Calendar tab and choose the pin tab option.

Chrome pin tab option

Now each time you start Chrome, a Google Calendar tab would open automatically in the background with a small iconified tab.

Pinned Google Calendar Tab

If you are willing to live with the above limitation please read on. Otherwise, you may need to try a Chrome Calendar extension or notification emails. If you are using Windows 10 you could try the default Calendar App; it works with Google Calendar.

For new Google Calendar Users

If you are a new Google Calendar user, it will automatically prompt you for a switch from alerts to desktop notifications. This happens when you create your first event.

Better Notifications Prompt

Click the switch option. Next, Chrome will ask your permission to show notifications from Google Calendar.

Allow notification prompt from Chrome

Click Allow. Google Calendar will now show you a sample desktop notification.

For existing Google Calendar Users

Existing users need to change notification settings manually. Go to Google Calendar Settings.

Google Calendar Settings

Go to the Event settings section and choose desktop notifications as the notification type.

Google Calendar Event Settings

This sets up Google Calendar to show Desktop Notifications. Now you need to give Google Calendar website, permission to show notifications through Chrome. This might be unnecessary since Chrome might prompt for this permission automatically. But it is better to check Chrome settings to be sure. Type chrome://settings/content/notifications in the address bar.

Allow notifications from Google Calendar in Chrome

Check if is allowed to send notifications. If not, add it manually by clicking on the Add button.