Getting Ubuntu notifications to appear on the correct monitor

Like many of you, I use Ubuntu at work with a dual-monitor setup. One of the most frustrating things I’ve always found is its behavior regarding pop-up notifications. I regularly miss new emails or chat messages due to the notification popping up on my secondary monitor, right on my eye’s blind spot.

I’ve been putting up with this up until now, deeming it to be a bug in either Unity or notify-osd itself. I had always intended on filing a bug report, but I’m glad I never did; it turns out this is desired behavior. Fair enough, I suppose, but the fix I have found is far more correct behavior in my eyes (literally – heh…).

Rather than only displaying notifications on the connected monitor, entering the below command at the terminal will make it so that notifications appear on the active monitor, i.e. the monitor currently in use. Far more sensible, no?

gsettings set com.canonical.notify-osd multihead-mode focus-follow

If you’re new to Linux, or if entering odd-looking commands into text-based interfaces makes you uncomfortable, you can also apply the above fix graphically using the following steps:

  1. Open the Unity Dash (Windows/Super key).
  2. Search for and launch dconf Editor.
  3. On the left-hand menu, expand apps and click notify-osd.
  4. Next to the multihead-mode entry, double-click dont-focus-follow and change it to focus-follow.

And that’s it. Your Ubuntu notifications should now appear on the screen you are actually working on. Resetting it to the default behavior is as simple as adding back in the dont- before focus-follow.

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