One of the best—and, potentially, most annoying—features in the new “Mountain Lion” update is Notification Center, which pops up banners and alerts for incoming email, to-do items, upcoming appointments, and other noteworthy events.

That’s all well and good when you want to keep an eye on your Mail inbox or worried about missing a meeting. But what if you want to sit back and enjoy a movie on iTunes, or if you simply want a little peace and quiet for a few hours?

Well. you could always plunge into your Mac’s Notifications settings (click the Apple Menu, select Preferences, then click Notifications) and turn off the banners and alerts for all your various Notification Center-supported applications.

Eventually, though, you’d have to go back and turn notifications for each of your apps back on again—a tedious process, especially if you just want a temporary break.

But here’s the thing: you can, in fact, put all your notifications on “pause” with a simple swipe and click.

Here’s how it works:

  • Click the Notifications icon in the top-right corner of the screen (it’s the one with three short horizontal lines) to open the Notification Center.
  • Next, swipe up with two fingers on your trackpad, Magic Trackpad, or Magic Mouse. (If you have the Mac’s “natural scrolling” setting turned on, you’ll need to swipe down.)
  • At the top of the Notification Center, a blue switch labeled “Show Banners and Alerts”  “Do Not Disturb” [update: as of Mac OS X “Mavericks,” the “Do Not Disturb” mode in iOS has officially made its way to the Mac] will appear. Go ahead and click the switch to pause all your notifications.

That’s it!

Once you’re ready to turn notifications back on, just click the switch again. If you forget to flip the switch again, don’t worry—your notifications will resume automatically the next day.

Bonus tip

Lost track of whether you’ve paused your banners and alerts? Just look at the Notifications icon at the top of your desktop. If the icon is solid black, your notifications are on; if they’re paused, the icon will turn gray.

Looking for more Mac tips? Click here!