How to Set Up and Use Focus Mode on iPhone in iOS 15

Filter incoming notifications effectively

by: - Last updated on: October 3rd, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Focus Mode is an all-new feature on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 for iPhones and iPads.
  • It’s essentially a hypernym to Do Not Disturb that unifies three different modes: Do Not Disturb, Sleep, and Driving, to help you focus better on your work and life.
  • Using Focus Mode, you can filter incoming notifications from people and apps at different times of the day according to your priorities and contexts.

In the past few years, Apple has been focusing on offering several digital wellness features on iOS and iPadOS to help users better manage their screen time on their iPhones and iPads. Features such as Screen Time and Sleep Tracking happen to be the most notable ones in this regard.

focus mode in iOS 15

Now, with its latest operating system releases, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, the company is stepping things up with yet another feature. Called Focus or Focus Mode, the feature is essentially a group of settings that allows you to filter incoming notifications from people and apps at different times of the day according to your priorities and contexts.

If you’ve updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, respectively, you’d have likely already seen the option on your device. In which case, here’s a guide on how to set up Focus Mode and use it on your device.

What is the new iPhone Focus Mode in iOS 15?

Focus or Focus Mode is a hypernym to Do Not Disturb on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 that unifies three different modes: Do Not Disturb, Sleep, and Driving, to help you focus better on your work and life by customizing notifications from people and apps based on your preference.

focus mode on iOS 15

By default, Apple bundles a bunch of Focus presets in the operating system, such as Do Not Disturb, Personal, Work, Sleep, Driving, Gaming, etc. Plus, you get the ability to create your own presets for different activities/contexts occurring in your everyday life, which you can use to manage the way people and app notifications come through in a day.

If you’ve got multiple Apple devices, you can configure your Focus Modes such that they apply simultaneously across all your devices. Similarly, there’s also the ability to schedule modes based on time, location, or some other trigger.

How to Set Up Focus Mode in iOS 15

Of all the different Focus Modes Apple offers in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, you have the option to customize every single one of them. However, we feel you should leave out the Do Not Disturb mode as is to retain the old Do Not Disturb functionality, which comes in handy when you don’t want to be bothered or reached out by anyone.

Aside from that, though, you can customize the Sleep, Work, Personal, and other default Focus Modes to suit your requirements.

Configuring a Preset Focus Mode

Follow the steps below to customize a Focus Mode on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Settings and select Focus.
  2. Click on the preset you want to customize.
  3. If you’re doing this for the first time, hit the Next button and follow these steps:
    configuring focus mode in iOS 15

    i. On the Allowed People for Notifications screen, click on Add Person under Allowed People, choose the contacts whose notifications you’d like to receive, and hit Done.
    configuring focus mode in iOS 15

    ii. Hit the Calls From button under OTHER PEOPLE to choose who can call you when the Focus Mode in question is active. [Choose Favorites to get calls from contacts you’ve selected in step-i and your favorites.]

    iii. Click on the Allow button.

    iv. On the Allowed Apps for Notifications page, click on Add App under Allowed Apps and select the apps whose notifications you’d like to receive. [Turn on Time Sensitive option if you’d like to get notifications from apps (not under the allowed list) with time-sensitive notifications.]

    configuring focus mode in iOS 15v. Hit Allow and tap on Done to save your preferences.

  4. If you’ve already fiddled with the Focus presets, you’ll be greeted directly to the Focus settings. To choose people and apps, in this case, tap on People or Apps under ALLOWED NOTIFICATIONS and follow steps 3 (i) and 3 (ii).
    configuring focus mode in iOS 15

Next, you can choose to customize other aspects of this Focus further or create a schedule (or automate it) to turn on automatically.

Focus Options

Every Focus Mode you have (or create) offers the following three options:

  1. Focus Status – Allows you to let people who contact you know that you’ve silenced your notifications. To enable it, tap on Focus Status and toggle on the Share Focus Status button.
    focus options
  2. Home Screen – Allows you to hide notification badges on home screen apps and pick specific home screen pages to show when the Focus Mode is active.
    focus mode options
  3. Lock Screen – Allows you to dim the lock screen appearance and show silenced notifications on the lock screen.
    focus mode options

Focus Scheduling

If you have certain Focus modes on your device that you use at different times of the day, you can schedule them to turn on automatically. Use the following steps to configure these settings:

  1. Tap on Add Schedule or Automation under TURN ON AUTOMATICALLY.
    focus mode scheduling
  2. Depending on how you want to automate Focus Modes, click on:
    focus mode schedulingi. Time: To schedule its trigger by time. For this, toggle on Schedule and select the time period when you want the Focus to be active using the From and To time options. Select days under REPEAT to repeat the schedule trigger on different days of the week.
    ii. Location: To schedule the trigger by location. Tap on Location and enter the address/location on the next screen.
    iii. App: To automate the mode launch when you open an app and turn it off when you close the app. For this, click on App and choose an app from the list.

How to Create a Custom Focus Mode in iOS 15

While the default Focus Modes can help you manage your notifications for most of your activities in a day, if you’re someone who wants even more modes, you can create a custom Focus Mode from scratch. Following are the steps to help you in this process:

  1. Open Settings and select Focus.
  2. Tap on the plus (+) button.
    creating custom focus mode
  3. On What do you want to focus on? page, select Custom.
    creating custom focus mode
  4. Tap on the icon under Name Your Focus and choose one from the icons listed below. You can also pick a color from the available options to choose a color for the Focus icon.
  5. Similarly, tap on the Name field and give a name to your Focus.
    creating custom focus mode
  6. Hit Next.
  7. Now, you need to pick people and apps whose notifications you’d like to receive when this Focus mode is active. Follow the on-screen instructions or refer to steps under the Configuring a Preset Focus Mode section to do this.
  8. Likewise, go through the steps under Focus Options and Focus Scheduling sections earlier in the post to customize other aspects of your Focus mode.

How to Enable/Disable a Focus Mode in iOS 15

Once you’ve configured a Focus Mode to your preference, you can enable it via Control Center or Lock Screen.

1. Enabling/Disabling Focus Mode via Control Center

Control Center is home to several controls that offer quick and easy access to different tools and functionalities. Focus also happens to have a control in the Control Center in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, which you can access using the following steps:

  1. Swipe down from the top-right of the screen on your iPhone or iPad to bring up Control Center. If you’re on an iPhone or iPad with a home button, swipe up from the bottom to get the Control Center.
    enabling focus mode
  2. Tap on the Focus control (or icon) and select the Focus you want to enable. To disable it, tap on it again. Moreover, if you’d like to view the settings for the Focus Mode, hit the three-dot menu next to it.
    enabling focus mode

2. Enabling/Disabling Focus Mode via Lock Screen

Unlike the Control Center, you can’t enable/disable a Focus Mode from the Lock Screen unless one is already active. So, if you’ve got a mode active on your iPhone or iPad, you can simply click on the Focus icon in the Lock Screen and tap on it to disable it.

enabling focus mode

Alternatively, you can click on any other Focus Mode, too, to activate it right from the Lock Screen.

Better Manage Notifications in iOS 15 Using Focus

If you’ve been using the Do Not Disturb feature all these years, you’re surely going to like the Focus Mode on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. With it, you get all the flexibility to customize the way notifications come through on your device according to your preference for different situations at different times of the day.

So now, every time you’re about to start an activity, be it working, driving, reading, or anything else, you can activate its Focus Mode to prevent getting distracted by unwanted notifications from apps and people and concentrate on the task diligently.

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