Using centralised notifications
  • 10 Aug 2023
  • 5 minutes to read

Using centralised notifications

Article Summary

Site-wide notifications

If notifications are enabled on your site you can then go to Quick-access menu > Notifications to configure your notifications.

Here you can expand the relevant section to see a list of all notification triggers. Click a notification trigger to see the notifications related to that event. Note that each notifiable event can have multiple notifications assigned to it. For example, the Learner assigned in certification event has two notifications - one that goes to the user, and one that goes to the user's manager. You can disable notifications individually using the toggle buttons, or you can disable the whole trigger. However, note that if you disable the trigger on the system level, it won't ever be shown in lower contexts.

When configuring notifications at the site level you are deciding which notifications users can receive, and not necessarily the notifications they will receive (this can be achieved using forced delivery). It is recommended that you do not disable notification triggers at the site level. Instead, notifications and triggers should be disabled at lower contexts when they are not appropriate or relevant for that context.

One instance where you may want to disable a notification trigger is when it is irrelevant to a category or type of program/certification, so that when new notifications are added to that trigger at the system level they will not suddenly appear for these programs/certifications.

The site-wide centralised notifications page.

Notification page

By going to Quick-access menu > Notifications you can see the following information for each notifiable event and its related notifications.

While configuring notifications at the site level you can also configure the delivery preferences for each notification type. You can also create new notifications for each notifiable event listed below.
Notifiable events

Notification triggers

The notifiable event that triggers the notification being sent.

Delivery channels

Indicates how the notification will be sent. The available delivery channels are:

  • Site notifications: Notifications are added to the main menu bar. Users can click the bell icon to view these notifications.
  • Mobile app notifications: Notifications are delivered via the notifications screen in the Totara Mobile app.
  • Tasks: Notifications are added to the Tasks block, which can be added to various dashboards or pages across Totara.
  • Alerts: Notifications are added to the Alerts block, which can be added to various dashboards or pages across Totara.
  • Email: Notifications are delivered by email.
  • Microsoft Teams: Notifications are delivered in the Microsoft Teams app.

Note that the Enable messaging system setting must be enabled (via Quick-access menu > Configure features > Messaging and notification settings) if you wish to use the Tasks and Alerts delivery channels.


NotificationThe name of the notification. 

There are three types of notification:

  • Factory: Shows that the notification is a built-in system-level notification. Built-in notifications cannot be deleted.
  • Custom: Indicates that the notification has been created at the given context level and can only be deleted in this context.
  • Inherited: Indicates that the notification is inherited from a built-in or custom notification from a higher context level. These notifications can only be disabled in this context. Additionally, they can only be deleted if they inherit from a custom notification, and only in the original context where that custom notification was created.


The user(s) who will receive the notification.


When the notification will be sent relative to the trigger event.

This can be either when the trigger occurs or a number of days after the event. In some cases, it is possible to send the notification before the trigger event (e.g. several days before a certification is due to be renewed).


Indicates whether the notification is enabled or disabled.

Default notifications

Program notifications

Notifications can be configured to be sent when the following events/triggers relating to programs occur:

  • Learner assigned in program
  • Program completed
  • Program course set completed
  • Course set due date
  • Program due date
  • New exception reported
  • Learner unassigned from program

Certification notifications

Notifications can be configured to be sent when the following events/triggers relating to certifications occur:

  • Learner assigned in certification
  • Certification completed
  • Course set completed
  • Course set due date
  • Certification due date
  • Certification expiry date
  • Failure to recertify
  • New exception reported
  • Learner unassigned from certification
  • Recertification window open date

Messages tab

Prior to Totara 14, program and certification messages were managed from the Messages tab rather than the Notifications tab. On a new Totara 15 site the Messages tab will not be available. If you are upgrading from a previous version of Totara (i.e. Totara 13 and earlier), any messages defined within existing programs/certifications will be converted to notifications (as long as they are defined by one of the built-in Notification triggers).

If required, you can configure this interface to show the Messages tab alongside the new Notifications tab. The Messages tab will appear if either of these conditions are met:

  • The messages tab is defined within config.php: $CFG->show_program_message_tab
  • A custom message type was created in a previous version of Totara. In this case the custom message will be displayed in the Messages tab. A Site Administrator should manually recreate this message in the Notifications tab, potentially requiring additional development work if the message cannot be reproduced using existing notification types.

Suspended users

Suspended users will not receive notifications. When a suspended user is reinstated they will not receive any notifications triggered during their suspension. This ensures that suspended users do not receive a high volume of messages when their suspension is lifted.

Use of text editors

The Weka editor is the default text editor when creating or editing a notification unless it is disabled on your site. If the Weka editor is disabled you can instead select either the Plain text format, HTML format or Markdown format from the dropdown menu above the text editor. 

Notification emails are sent containing both an HTML version and plain-text version of the notification content, and email clients (not Totara) choose which version of the email content to display. Typically clients should use the HTML version. Depending on which editor you use, the notification content is converted into HTML and plain-text in slightly different ways.

When you use the Weka editor, the content is stored in the JSON format, and is converted to HTML or plain text when the notification is sent. You're limited to the formatting options that are provided by the Weka editor. If you want full styling control then you will need to use the HTML editor, which allows you to format the output however you want. The HTML is used as is when generating HTML output, but the HTML will be stripped out when generating the plain-text output. If the plain-text editor is used, then the plain text will be used for both the HTML and plain-text version of the email, so they'll both look the same, with no formatting.

Note that the email header and footer (typically HTML) are also added to the notification. If the notification content is not formatted, then you would end up with plain text between an HTML header and footer.
Currently, notification content does not fully support inline images or file attachments. These may be displayed in notifications sent to the Totara inbox, or in emails if the recipient is logged in to Totara in the same browser while they view the email.

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