How to Use Focus Mode in iOS 15

Reduce distractions and activate Focus Mode to silence iPhone notifications for a set period of time.

Arguably one of the most discussed iOS 15 features is the addition of Focus Mode. Designed to help you better maintain a balanced lifestyle, this feature allows you to silence certain notifications for set periods of time. Below, we'll cover how to enable and customize your iPhone 15 Focus Mode filters.

Related: iOS 14 Draining Your iPhone Battery Life? 13 Ways to Save Battery on Your iPhone

Jump To:

What Is Focus?

Focus is a new iOS 15 feature where Apple expanded and added to the previous Do Not Disturb mode. While the Do Not Disturb feature is still available in Focus, the cool part is that now you can set up and activate different modes depending on your activity, location, or time of day. With Focus, you can control which apps and messages are blocked for a set amount of time. Then, you can catch up on non-essential notifications later. You can also set up recurring times to have Focus activated, for example, if you want to silence certain notifications each evening to spend quality time with your family. 

How to Turn a Focus Mode On & Off

We've already covered how to use the Do Not Disturb feature, which has remained very similar to what it was before it was incorporated into the broader Focus feature. Below, we'll walk through how to manually enable and disable one of the other pre-set Focus Modes by accessing your iOS Control Center.

  1. Swipe down from the top right corner of your Home screen to open the iOS Control Center. (Swipe up from the bottom of the screen if you have an older phone with a Home button.)

  2. Tap Focus

  3. Tap one of the Do Not Disturb, Personal, Sleep, or Work options to block set notifications.

  4. You can also tap the three dots to further refine Focus settings. 

  5. From here, tap to select whether you want notifications to be blocked for one hour, until this evening, or until you leave your current location. 

  6. You can also tap Settings to personalize your notifications filter for each category. 

  7. To add a custom Focus category, tap the New Focus button below.

We'll cover more about how to personalize settings and create a custom Focus filter in the sections below.

How to Personalize Settings in Focus

Focus Modes are set up by category, meaning you have options to enable a Focus Mode for Sleep, Work, a generic Do Not Disturb mode, or another custom category. The benefit of this setup is that it allows you to tailor Focus features based on your activity and keep those settings saved for later use. There are quite a few settings options for this iOS 15 feature, and we'll walk you through the most important ones below.

  1. Open Settings

  2. Tap Focus

  3. Tap the Share Across Devices toggle if you want to enable your Focus notification filters across all Apple Devices sharing the same Apple ID.

  4. Tap a Focus, such as Work, to set specific notification settings for the category.

  5. Tap People to set which contacts can send you messages during the Focus period. Learn how to silence specific people instead here.

  6. Tap Add Person to add one or more contacts.

  7. Tap Apps to set which apps can send you notifications during the Focus period.

  8. Tap Add App to allow specific apps.

  9. Tap Work to return to the Focus settings menu.

  10. Tap the toggle next to Time Sensitive Notifications to enable or disable alerts for things such as package deliveries.

  11. Tap the Share Focus Status toggle if you want to share your Focus status with others and give them the option to notify you if something is urgent. 

  12. Tap Smart Activation if you want to allow your Focus to be automatically enable at certain times of the day or locations it is often used.

  13. Tap the Smart Activation toggle. 

  14. Tap the button above Smart Activation to set your Focus to enable at certain times. 

  15. Tap Time if you want the Focus to active during specific periods of the week or time of day.

  16. Tap the Schedule toggle, if not already enabled. 

  17. Tap the time shown next to From and To to set when you'd like your Focus to enable and disable.

  18. Tap the days of the week to enable what days the Focus is activated on. Blue is enabled; gray is disabled.

  19. Tap New Automation.

  20. Tap Location if you want the Focus Mode to activate at a specific address.

  21. Tap Apps if you want your Focus Mode to activate when you open certain apps, such as Books. 

While not mentioned in the steps above, when you create a custom Focus mode, you can also create custom Home Screen pages. This allows you to hide certain apps so you can use your iPhone without being distracted. 

How to Create a Custom Focus Category

Perhaps you want to create a Focus that doesn't fall under the provided Focus iOS 15 categories. In this case, you'll want to create a custom Focus. 

  1. From your iOS Control Center, tap New Focus

  2. Tap one of the category labels below, or tap Custom to add a new focus.

  3. Type in the name of your custom Focus setting. 

  4. Tap the circle icons below to add a color and symbol.

  5. Tap Next

  6. Tap Add Person to allow which contacts can still send you notifications (such as family members).

  7. Tap Allow None to block all contacts when this Focus is enabled.

  8. Tap Add App to select which apps (if any) you want to be able to send you notifications. Tap Allow None to block notifications from all apps.

  9. Select whether you would like to Allow Time Sensitive notifications (such as a package delivery). Tap Not Now to block these alerts.

  10. Tap Done to finish your custom Focus.

  11. Now when you open your iOS Control Center, your custom focus will appear with the others in the list.

If you are having any trouble with Focus mode, see our article on Focus mode troubleshooting tips.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.


Author Details

Ashleigh Page's picture

Author Details

Ashleigh Page

Ashleigh Page is an Associate Editor for iPhone Life. With a background in computer science and creative writing, she loves blending aspects of the technical and creative. An avid technology enthusiast, she adores Apple products and keeping up with the latest innovations. When she’s not working, Ashleigh is often found crafting whimsical (and sometimes nonsensical) short stories, hiking, and playing sand volleyball.