Facebook E-mail Notification Settings, Revisited

Find an updated version of this post at Be Web Smart.
A previous post I wrote about Facebook notifications explained how you could control the e-mail you receive from Facebook. Then last September Facebook made some changes to Notifications.   Here’s an update of my earlier post.

What are Notifications?

Notifications are messages that Facebook sends you when there has been some activity associated with your profile.  The notifications are shown within Facebook, at the top of the page next to the Facebook logo.  (Facebook calls these “On-site” Notifications). You’ll see a little red indicator, and then click it for the notification.  These could be a friend request, inbox message or a general notification.  This screenshot shows that I have one Friend Request notification.

Friend Request Notification on the screen

E-mail notifications – Summary vs. Individual

In addition to the notification in Facebook, you will receive an e-mail, depending on your notification settings.  The default setting (as of September 2011) is a summary e-mail.

By using this default setting, Facebook decides what is important enough to justify sending you e-mail.  For example, I noticed that after they made this change back in September, I stopped getting e-mail each time someone sent me a message through Facebook or posted on my Wall.  That was the kind of information that I liked to know about immediately.  And for those of you who may not check Facebook obsessively regularly, you may not know about any action on your profile unless you receive an e-mail.  So in these cases individual e-mail notifications may be handy.

View and Change e-mail notification settings

To view your current settings, click the little arrow (Drop-down arrow) next to “Home” in the upper right, choose Account Settings, and then click on “Notifications” on the left.

On the right side of the page you’ll see a box titled “Email Frequency” with a check next to the message “Send me important updates and summary emails instead of individual notification emails”:

Email Frequency - Send me important updates and summary emails instead of individual notification emails

Below that you’ll see a list of Notification options, split into categories like Facebook, Groups, Photos, and more.  Each has a number next to it indicating how many notifications within that category you are currently receiving.  However, unless you uncheck that box at the top, you will not be able to update any of the options here.  So, the first step is to un-check the Email Frequency box.

Then, click the heading for each category (or click Edit) to expand it and see the various options.  Then check the boxes to fine-tune your notification settings.  For example, in the Facebook category I’ve selected to receive e-mail notifications when someone sends me a message, adds me as a friend, and posts on my Wall.  The weekly email letting me know about birthdays was already checked, as part of that e-mail summary.

Edit Email Notification Settings

Click Save Changes and then move down the list and Edit each category.  There are over 70 choices in 16 categories!  How do you know which ones to check? There are many you can likely skip right over.  For example if you don’t belong to Groups, then you don’t need to be notified about groups.

What you do want to know about are actions that others take on your information.  For example, if someone posts to your Wall, or tags one of your pictures, you will be notified by e-mail immediately and you can review the post or tag.

Another approach is to check every option at first and see what happens.  I did this, and after about a week I had an idea of the amount of e-mail I would receive.  I decided it was too much! So I went back and removed some of the selections.  One item that I chose to deselect was “Comments after you in a photo”.  This one generated a lot of e-mail when I commented on a friend’s photo, and then 25 more people commented after me.  That’s 25 e-mails I didn’t need!

Mobile/SMS Notifications

For the true Facebook diehard you can have Facebook send text message notifications to your phone.  To do so, go to the “Mobile” page under Account Settings and follow the instructions.  Then you can set up notifications via text when you’re on the go.  I haven’t done this as I’m pretty much in front of a computer 24-7 as it is.  (And if you have a smartphone with a Facebook app, there is really no need to receive text messages, in my opinion).

That’s it! Review your notification settings from time to time, and you can keep the amount of e-mail from Facebook to your liking.

For more information – visit Facebook’s help page on notifications.