Avoid Distractions: How to Silence iPhone Notifications with Focus in iOS 16

You’re trying to work (or play) on your iPhone and don’t want to be bothered by phone calls, text messages, or other interruptions. One feature that can help is Focus.

Introduced in iOS 15 as an update to Do Not Disturb, Focus has been enhanced in iOS 16 to be more powerful and easier to use.

To take advantage of the latest version of Focus, you must be running iOS 16, which is currently available as a beta version. After the update, go to Settings > Focus. By default, the screen shows some focus profiles. They vary depending on whether you’re using an iPhone or iPad, but generally include Do Not Disturb, Driving, Personal, Sleep, and Work. Each profile is designed for a different purpose, activity, or time of day. Your task now is to customize the profiles you plan to use, a process that is different and more streamlined in iOS 16 than it was in iOS 15.


Allow or block notifications

View Focus profiles

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Select the Do Not Disturb option, which you can use as a general focus profile anytime you want. Under Enable notifications, select the people and apps you want to allow or deny notifications for. Select the field to People. Focus suggests people you want to allow notifications for based on their past interactions. Tap the minus sign next to any suggestion you want to block notifications for while this profile is active. Tap the plus icon and select anyone you want to allow notifications for.

Allow notifications from specific people

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Allow or mute calls

Under Phone calls, touch the current option to allow calls from; then you can change it to Everyone, Only Allowed People, Favorites, or Only Contacts. Lever Allow repeat calls going forward, with the notion that someone trying to reach you during an emergency may call multiple times.

Allow certain calls and repeated calls

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Then tap the option at the top to Mute notifications from. Tap the plus icon and select anyone you want to mute notifications for. Please note that this process will not work unless the people you mute are also running iOS 16 (or iPadOS 16) on their devices. Then turn on the switch Allow calls from muted people if you still want to accept phone calls from the people you blocked this way.

Mute notifications from specific people

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Allow or mute app notifications

Return to the previous screen. Tap the Apps field. The process here is similar to that of Personas. With the top option set to Allow notifications from, remove the apps from the list for which you don’t want to receive notifications. Tap the plus icon and select the apps you want to receive notifications for.

Allow notifications from certain apps

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Change the top option to Mute notifications from. Tap the plus icon to add any apps you don’t want to receive notifications for. To see important notifications, make sure the switch is turned on to time sensitive notifications.

Block notifications from certain apps

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Show muted notifications on the lock screen

Return to the previous screen. Touch the entry for Options. Here, you can choose to show muted notifications on the lock screen instead of Notification Center, dim the lock screen when this focus profile is on, and hide notification badges from muted apps on your home screen. .

Set lock screen options

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Go back one screen. You can then set specific lock screens and home screens to help you in your effort to turn off notifications. Apple’s iOS 16 offers ways to create and edit custom lock screens, something you might want to try in addition to enabling different focus profiles. In the Customize Screens section, tap the first thumbnail. Select a lock screen that you would like to appear when you activate the Do Not Disturb profile. Next, tap on the second thumbnail and choose the home screen you want to appear in Do Not Disturb mode.

Select lock screen and home screen

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Schedule notifications

You can manually activate Do Not Disturb mode whenever you want. But you may also want to schedule certain times or instances when it goes into effect.

In the section of turn on automaticallytouch the option to add schedule. Select the first option for Time and choose a specific start time, end time, and the day(s) that Do Not Disturb will turn on automatically. Next, select Location and enter an address or location for this profile to continue. Next, select App and choose a specific app that, when opened, automatically turns on Do Not Disturb. You can also enable Smart Activity, which activates Do Not Disturb based on your location, app usage, and other factors.

Schedule times and instances for Do Not Disturb

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Add focus filters for apps

Apple’s iOS 16 also brings a new focus option called Focus Filters, which allows you to filter out specific types of content within supported apps. For example, you may want to receive text messages only from certain people, or see only certain calendars if you have more than one.

Tap the option to Add Filter. Select the app you want to create a filter for. With Calendar, choose a specific calendar to see when Do Not Disturb is on and touch Add. With Mail, choose a specific account to view. With Messages, choose to filter the allowed list by people. For Safari, choose certain tab groups to add a filter for.

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You can also enable system filters for Appearance (light versus dark mode) and Low Power Mode. The filters available with the beta version of iOS 16 are limited, but should increase in number after the official launch of the new operating system.

Add focus filters

(Credit: PCMag/Lance Whitney)


Customize or create new profiles

After you set up your Do Not Disturb profile, you can move on to any other profiles you want to enable, including Driving, Personal, Sleep, and Work. They all work in a similar way with all or most of the same options. You can also delete a specific profile that you would never use. To do so, swipe to the bottom of the screen for that profile and tap the option to remove focus.

Enable other Focus profiles

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Also, you can add a Focus. Tap the plus icon in the top right corner of the main Focus settings screen. From the list, select Fitness, Games, Mindfulness, or Reading. Select the profile you want to enable and customize the people, apps, screens, filters, and other options allowed.

Add a focus profile

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To create a new profile, select Custom. Give the focus profile a name and choose an image and color for its icon. Customize people, apps, and other settings.

Create a custom focus profile

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Back at the focus settings screen, turn on the switch to Share across devices if you want the same Focus profiles and settings to propagate across all of your Apple devices, including an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Tap the option for Focus Status. Here you can control which Focus profiles will allow allowed apps to indicate that you have silenced notifications.

Share across devices

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Finally, you can easily activate a specific focus profile. Slide your finger up or down on the screen to display the Control Center. Tap the Focus control and then select the specific profile you want to activate. Tap the profile’s ellipsis icon to set how long it should run. Tap the New Focus icon at the bottom to create a new focus profile.

Activate a focus profile

(Credit: PCMag/Lance Whitney)

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