We’ve all been there. It’s OK. You are in a meeting – Google Meet, Zoom, etc. – and you are tasked with sharing your display in order to help the others in the call visualize what it is the group is discussing. You click that present button and right in the middle of making a very serious point, a very not-serious WhatsApp message comes through from that wacky friend and the pop-up notification not only distracts you from the task at hand, but it also lets everyone else know exactly what you got up to over the weekend. There’s no recovering from it and it can really be the worst.
For many, the need to share your entire display doesn’t happen all that often, so remembering to mute your desktop notifications for those handful of times usually isn’t realistic. Instead, most of us forget and we end up sharing a bit more than we likely intended to with people we had no intention of sharing with. There’s gotta be a better way, right?
Google’s working on a fix to a very-2020 problem
Thankfully, Chrome is regularly updated not just for bugs, but with new features on board as well. It would seem Google is on the way with a fix for this 2020 problem that has been around for a while, but has now been drug into the spotlight as work/learn from home has become the norm for so many people.
Pause notifications while presenting full screen
This adds a new NotificationBlocker that listens for screen share events and stops notifications when a full screen is currently being recorded.
Implemented behind a mute-notifications-during-screen-share flag.via the Chromium Gerrit
Just like it sounds, Chrome will soon have the native ability to simply pause your notifications while you are presenting your entire display. Obviously, this doesn’t apply when presenting a Chrome tab as this wouldn’t be necessary. Instead, this only applies when your entire screen is being captured. This change was merged on September 24th and Chrome Story reports that they’ve successfully enabled the flag. Right now, Chrome OS Canary does not have the flag available, but I’d assume the next update in the coming days will have this on board.
Screen recording sessions will benefit from this change as well
Though video calling and presenting screens to other coworkers is generally the first thing anyone considers when talking about hiding notifications, another benefit of this change will be when screen recording. After all, setting up a quick Loom recording shares (or presents) your entire desktop in the exact same way as a video call, so this change will also assist in keeping those pesky notifications out of your recordings.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the process of grabbing a quick screen recording for a video and had to reset and start over simply because of a random pop-up notification. Having Chrome be smart enough to pause those notifications for me in the background will be very, very helpful.
As this change has already been merged and is showing up in Chrome OS 87, I’d wager that’s where it will land. Chrome and Chrome OS 86 are due up on October 6th and 13th respectively, so there’s no way this feature ends up in that release. Until then, do your best to remember to silence those notifications when you are in a call or recording your display and know that the Chrome team is delivering a feature fix soon.