Google Chrome will now hide embarrassing notifications when you are sharing your screen

It's a minor change to Chrome, but still a privacy improvement when you're sharing your desktop screen while remote working.

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In a COVID-19 world, screen sharing is more likely because of video meetings and other work-from-home activities. Chrome delivers users notifications, but should those Chrome notifications be seen by others when you share your desktop screen? 

Most people would say no: personally, I opt not to receive Chrome notifications because there are too many notifications to deal with anyway. Unfortunately, in Chrome, by default notifications are enabled. Google has a support page describing how to turn off notifications from Chrome, which by default are set to allow any website, app, or extension to send the user a notification. 

It's also not hard to imagine some embarrassment when a notification showing details about a private message showing up on someone else's screen in this situation. 

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Announcing the privacy-enhancing feature, Google explains that when users share a desktop screen from a Mac or Windows 10 PC, "Chrome will automatically hide the content of web pop-up notifications."

The notification alert can still be seen by the person with whom the desktop screen is being shared, but the content of the notification is concealed. 

The Chrome update covers notifications from Google Chat, email notifications, and third-party websites.

After the screen sharing session is over, the muted notifications will be automatically displayed. Note that notifications are already muted when sharing a tab in Google Meet.

Google acknowledged that this update to Chrome notifications is a response to WFH practices and that people are relying on personal computers rather than company-supplied PCs. 

"There has been a dramatic shift in how many of us work – now more than ever, we're relying on the use of Google Meet and other screen sharing solutions. We hope this feature will reduce distractions and prevent sensitive or personal information from accidentally being displayed while sharing your screen," Google notes

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While the default behavior of notifications in Chrome has been changed, users opt-in to showing the content of all future notifications by selecting "Show All" in settings. 

This tweak in Chrome's behavior is available to anyone with a Gmail account, so it's not limited to Google Workspace subscriptions.