Social media: Over-notified

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q. I have more than a thousand Facebook friends, and every day both my computer and smartphone display notifications of those whose birthday it is. I've turned off the notifications in Facebook, but both my computer and smartphone continue to display my friends' birthdays. How do I turn them off?


A number of programs display birthday reminders, and during setup many of them import your Facebook friends' information into their contacts database, which is why you seem to think that Facebook is the offending app although it probably isn't. Your first task is to figure out exactly which applications are displaying the unwanted notifications. In most cases, you can simply click the displayed birthday notification to launch the app or application behind the unwanted notifications, thereby identifying the offending app or application. Each app or application (and even different editions) may have different menu options for disabling birthday notifications. Here's a quick summary of the birthday notification images displayed by the latest editions of several popular programs, and how to disable them.

Facebook: Birthday notifications appear on your wall (for each of your Facebook friends who includes a birthdate in his or her profile), as pictured below.


To disable these notifications, select the Facebook menu dropdown arrow, Settings, Notifications, On Facebook, and set the Birthdays option to Off. This adjustment will also prevent birthday notifications from appearing on your smartphone app.

Outlook: The desktop edition displays birthday notifications in your calendar, as pictured below.


To disable these notifications, from Outlook's main calendar screen, in the left pane under My Calendars, uncheck the Birthday calendar (or Friends' Birthdays) box, as pictured below.

techqa-5's birthday notifications appear in your calendar as pop-ups in the lower right corner of your computer screen, as emails in your mailbox, and as notifications on your smartphone (examples of these four screens are pictured below).


To disable these notifications, launch the app and navigate to the Calendar app, then click the Gear icon (settings icon) and uncheck the Birthday calendar box. If you prefer to keep birthday notifications on your calendar but prevent them from showing up as emails and pop-up notifications, then launch the app, navigate to the calendar app, click the Gear icon (settings icon), and select Options. Under the Edit your calendar settings, click Birthday calendar, on the screen that follows, uncheck the box labeled Get reminders for events and tasks, then click Save.

Google Calendar's birthday notifications. Google's birthday notifications appear on your Google Calendar as emails and as pop-ups on your smartphone and computer.


To clear birthday notifications from Google Calendar, log in to your account, navigate to your Google Calendar screen, and uncheck the box labeled Birthdays. To prevent Google calendar from displaying birthday notifications on your smartphone, log in to your account, navigate to your Google Calendar screen, click the Gear icon (settings icon), on the screen that follows, select the Calendars tab, select Edit notifications (next to your Calendar name), and then click the two remove buttons next to the By default, notify me via Email and By default, notify me via Pop-up checkboxes, and then click Save.

About the author

J. Carlton Collins ( is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2007 through 2016 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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