How to change Windows 10 toast notifications into balloon notifications

With a subtle manual edit of a specific Windows 10 configuration setting, it is possible to change modern toast-style system notifications into old-fashioned balloon notifications.

multi colored balloons in a 3D tv screen

Image: daboost Getty Images/iStockphoto

The user interface (UI) in Microsoft Windows 10 has a more minimalistic approach than the predecessor versions of Windows XP and Windows 7. One of the more noticeable changes can be observed in the way system notifications are displayed on the desktop screen.

In Windows 10, with its modern UI, notifications appear as a rectangle on the desktop and repeat that style in the notification area. Whereas, in earlier Windows versions, notifications appeared as balloon messages with their tails pointing toward the application generating the message. It is possible to get the balloon style back with a careful change to the Windows 10 configuration settings.

This tutorial shows you how to modify Windows 10 configuration settings to turn toast notifications into balloon notifications by editing the Windows Registry file with either Regedit or the Local Group Policy Editor.

SEE: Windows 10 apps: Which should you keep and which should you dump? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to change toast notifications into balloon notifications in Windows 10

To be certain exactly what notifications we are talking about, look at Figure A, which simulates a typical "toast" notification in the current modern Windows 10 style.

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Figure A

For those of you using Windows 10 Pro or another enterprise version of the OS, the best way to change toast notifications into balloon notifications is through the Local Group Policy Editor.

Type "gpedit" into the search box on the Windows 10 desktop and select the Group Policy Editor from the list of results. Use the left-hand pane (Figure B) to navigate to this section: User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Start Menu and Taskbar.

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Figure B

Scroll down the right-hand pane to find the Disable Showing Balloon Notifications As Toasts entry and double-click it (Figure C). You may have to scroll a good way down the page before you find it.

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Figure C

Change the configuration to Enabled and click Apply and then OK. Exit it out of the Group Policy Editor and reboot your PC to complete the process.

Edit the Windows Registry file

If you have Windows 10 Home, changing toast notifications into balloon notifications will require a manual edit of the Windows 10 Registry File.

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows 10 operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows 10 Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

To start, type "regedit" into the search box on the Windows 10 desktop and select the Regedit app from the list of results. Use the left-hand pane (Figure D) to navigate to this section:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows

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Figure D

With the cursor on this "Windows" folder, right-click on any blank spot in the right-hand pane and select New | Key. Name the new key Explorer (Figure E). Place your cursor on the new Explorer key you just created and right-click a blank area in the right-hand pane again and select New | DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new DWORD EnableLegacyBalloonNotifications.

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Figure E

Double-click EnableLegacyBalloonNotifications and change the Value Data to 1 (Figure F).

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Figure F

Click OK, exit out of the registry editor, and then reboot your PC to complete the process.

As you can see in Figure G, the modern Windows 10 UI of a toast notification will now be the old-fashioned balloon notification from previous Windows versions.

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Figure G

Note: Be sure you have notifications set to the on position, or you won't be seeing any notifications at all. And, further note, some applications may override this setting to display notifications in the toast-style regardless of your preferred configuration.

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