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Jef LeCompte
Jef LeCompte

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GitHub: Using notifications effectively

Missing out out on notifications is very common – you’re not the only one. There are many solutions out there like Pull Panda, Slack, etc.. But sometimes the best one (and cheapest) is native.

🌈 Notification bliss

I’m going to assume that your main problem is that you get too many notifications via Slack, email, private messages, and many more. The best way to resolve this is to get all your GitHub notifications through one interface. I believe I’ve come up with a great route to do so, but requires a little elbow grease.

The below settings are opinionated, but I believe are the best settings for being notified properly!

🛎 Notification settings

Go to GitHub’s Notification settings and apply these settings:

GitHub Notification settings

👀 Watch settings

It’s important to note that the default for notifications is to automatically watch repositories when you’re giving push access. That means every repository you create (or if you're a part of an organization) will be automatically be subscribed. This isn’t that great; as you might not work on everything, especially in an organization. So make sure the above setting Automatically watch repositories is unchecked.

👉 The catcher here is that you’re automatically subscribed to any repository you push to, pull request you create, added as a reviewer, and or commented on an issue or pull request. So there really isn't a need to watch any repository, unless you want to see any actions done to a particular repository.

To unwatch repositories, go to GitHub’s Watching settings.

🧲 Chrome extensions and GitHub’s Notifications

Now that we have notification settings setup for GitHub, we should have something that pushes desktop notifications to make sure that we stay on top of our pull requests and help others code review.

A very popular GitHub open-sourcerer has made an awesome extension called Notifier for GitHub. Setup is very easy, just follow the instructions in the README.

If you’re against extensions, then you can just use GitHub’s native notification page. It’s recently been updated and out of beta – a very nice update.

🥃 Summary

When it’s all said it done, you’ll get notified on pull requests and issues you’ve been mentioned and asked to review for. You’ll also receive updates on your pull requests and issues (approvals, requests to change, comments).

At the end, you’ll see something like this:

GitHub Notification Page

After going to the pull request and making your review, you can clean up that notification by clicking Done in the options at the top:

GitHub Notification Header

It will be removed from your notification list and the extension will update its badge count. If there are changes to the PR (merged, commented, more pushes), you’ll get notified. If you want to give you review and be done with it, you can click the Unsubscribe.

Good luck and keep on code reviewing!

📓 Sources

Discussion (2)

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tedspare profile image
Ted Spare

These opinionated settings are brilliant.

The GitHub Slack app and Neat.run also let you unsubscribe from a notification. The approach is nice for when it's not clear in advance which repositories are important to follow!

Thanks for sharing.

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jef profile image
Jef LeCompte Author

You bet! I'm glad you found it helpful :)