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

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, texts, or other distractions. One feature that can help is Focus.

Introduced in iOS 15 as a “Do Not Disturb” update, Focus has been improved in iOS 16 to make it more powerful and easier to use.

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


Allow or block notifications

Select Do Not Disturb, which you can use as your overall Focus profile at any time. Under Enable notifications, select the people and apps you want to enable or disable notifications for. Select the box for People. Focus suggests people you want to allow notifications to based on your past interactions. Tap the minus sign next to any suggestion you want to block notifications for when that profile is active. Tap the plus icon and select anyone you want to allow notifications.

Allow notifications from specific people


Allow or Mute calls

Under Phone Calls, tap the current option for Allow calls from; then you can change it to Everyone, Only allowed people, Favorites or Contacts only. Switch Allow repeat calls on, with the idea that someone trying to call you in an emergency may call multiple times.

Allow certain calls and repeat calls

Next, tap on the option at the top for Mute notifications from. Tap the plus icon and select anyone you want to mute notifications for. Note that this process won’t work unless the people you mute also have iOS 16 (or iPadOS 16) on their devices. Next, turn on the switch for Allow calls from muted people if you still want to receive phone calls from people you blocked this way.

Mute notifications from specific people


Enable or mute app notifications

Return to the previous screen. Tap the box for Applications. The procedure here is similar to that of humans. With the top option set to Allow notifications from, remove any listed apps that you don’t want to receive notifications for. Tap the plus icon and select the apps you want to receive notifications for.

Allow notifications from certain apps

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

Block notifications from certain apps


Show muted notifications on the lock screen

Return to the previous screen. Tap Options. Here you can choose to show muted notifications on the lock screen instead of in the Notification Center, mute the lock screen when this Focus profile is on, and hide muted app notification badges on the home screen.

Set lock screen options

Go back one screen. You can also set specific Lock Screens and Desktops to help you in your efforts to turn off notifications. Apple iOS 16 offers ways to create and customize customized lock screens, which you can try in addition to enabling different Focus profiles. Under Customize Screens, click the first thumbnail. Select the lock screen to display when you turn on the Do Not Disturb profile. Next, tap the second thumbnail and select the home screen to display in Do Not Disturb mode.

Select Lock screen and Desktop


Schedule an announcement

You can manually turn on Do Not Disturb whenever you want. However, you may want to schedule specific times or instances when they take effect.

In the pro section Turn on automaticallyclick on the option for Add schedule. Select the first option for Time and select a specific start time, end time, and day or days when Do Not Disturb will automatically turn on. Next, select Location and enter the address or location of this profile to continue. Next, select Apps and select a specific app that will automatically turn on Do Not Disturb when opened. You can also enable a smart activity that turns on Do Not Disturb based on your location, app usage, and other factors.

Schedule times and instances for Do Not Disturb mode


Add focus filters for apps

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

Click Add Filter. Select the application for which you want to create a filter. In Calendar, select the specific calendar you want to display when Do Not Disturb is on and tap Add. In the Mail app, select the specific account you want to view. You can choose to filter your whitelist by people using messages. For Safari, select specific groups of tabs to add a filter for.

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

Add focus filters


Customize or create new profiles

After setting up the Do Not Disturb profile, you can turn to any other profiles you want to enable, including the driving, personal, sleep, and work profiles. They all work similarly 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 that profile’s screen and tap the option for Delete focus.

Enable additional Focus profiles

You can also add Focus. Tap the plus icon in the upper right corner of the main focus settings screen. Select Fitness, Gaming, Mindfulness or Reading from the list. Select the profile you want to allow and customize the allowed people, apps, screens, filters and more.

Add a Focus profile

To create a completely new profile, select Custom. Name your Focus profile and choose an image and color for its icon. Customize people, apps, and other settings.

Create your own Focus profile

Go back to the Focus Settings screen and turn on the switch for Share across devices if you want the same Focus profiles and settings to extend to all your Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Tap Focus Status. Here you can specify which Focus profiles will allow enabled apps to indicate that you’ve muted notifications.

Share across devices

Finally, you can simply turn on a specific Focus profile. Swipe up or down on the screen to display the Control Center. Tap the control for Focus, then select the specific profile you want to activate. Tap the profile’s three-dot icon to set how long it should run. Click the New Focus icon at the bottom to create a new Focus profile.

Activate the Focus profile

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