I sit in front of a Mac all day (like you probably do), so I rely on notifications a lot, especially to communicate with co-workers, friends, and family. The problem I’ve been having, however, is that the Messages app often fakes me out with phantom unread messages, leaving me frustrated and confused.
Here’s what happens: The Messages icon in the Dock shows a red “1” badge, indicating that there’s a new message. But when I open Messages, there’s nothing new, and worse, the badge won’t go away. So I go back to work for a while, pull up the Dock, see the badge (again), and think I have a new message (again). The badge usually goes away when I restart my Mac, but that’s not something I like to do all that often.
Luckily, I stumbled upon a way to quickly zap that phanton unread badge. After it popped up again last week, I accidentally right-clicked on the app icon in the Dock (with two fingers on the trackpad, right-click or Control-click on a mouse), which opened up the pop-up options menu. under the New Message option at the top of the menu was a tally of my messages with a notification that one was unread. I clicked it, and a blank conversation appeared that was apparently tricking the app into thinking I had an unread message. I deleted it and the badge disappeared. Finally!
Now I know how to fix it whenever this happens to me again. Plus I learned a trick to quickly see my unread messages. It’s not really a fix for my problem–there’s clearly a bug in Messages on my Mac that’s causing this—but until an update fixes it, I can at least clear the phantom badge and get back to work.
Today I Learned is a Macworld column that spotlights lesser-known but useful tips and tricks for Apple users. If you have any ideas for future columns, send an email to email@example.com.