How to Set Up Auto-Replies in Focus Mode on iPhone in iOS 16

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Focus in iOS 16 allows you to customize automatic text replies to send to friends and family explaining that you're unable to respond right now, but in a friendly way without relying on cold, scripted replies. Let's dive into how to set up a Focus mode auto-reply text on your iPhone!

Why You'll Love This Tip

  • Set an auto-reply message on your iPhone, so you never have to worry about leaving someone hanging when they text you while you're driving.
  • Apple's scripted auto-reply messages can sound terse, but with Driving's Focus mode auto-replies, you can personalize your message to sound more like you!

How to Use iPhone Focus Mode Auto-Reply Messages

Driving is currently the only Focus mode that allows auto-reply messages to be sent, but it's possible that others will include the auto-reply function in later updates. However, the auto-reply message doesn't indicate that it is from the Driving focus except through the default message, so you can easily customize the message to suit other times you might want to send automatic text replies from your iPhone. Please note that since this Focus mode tip is specific to iOS 15 and iOS 16, if you have an earlier software version, you will need to update to iOS 16 before using these steps. If you're brand new to Focus mode, check out our quick guide on turning on Focus mode. To learn more about what's new in iOS 16, sign up for our Tip of the Day newsletter!

Here's how to use Focus on iPhone to send auto-reply messages:

  1. Open Settings.

    Open Settings app
  2. Tap on Focus.

    Tap Focus
  3. Tap on Driving.

    Focus Settings screen with the Driving Focus option marked.
  4. Next, tap Auto-Reply.

    Driving Focus screen with the Auto-Reply option marked.
  5. Choose who will receive your auto-replies: No One, Recents, Favorites, or All Contacts.

    List of options
  6. If you select No One, Auto-Reply will be disabled.

    Select No One
  7. If you select Recents, contacts you've responded to within the last day will receive an auto-reply text when Focus is enabled.

    Select  Recents
  8. If you select Favorites, contacts in your Favorites list will receive an auto-reply text.

    Select Favorites
  9. If you select All Contacts, all of your contacts will receive an auto-reply text.

    Select All Contacts
  10. Edit the Auto-Reply Message to say whatever you would like it to say.

    Edit Auto-Reply message

Now, whenever you enable the Driving focus filter, the group of your contacts you selected will receive your personalized auto-reply message when they try to contact you.

Important Tip: If your Auto-Replies don't seem to be going out as intended, check the Settings for Messages and make sure the toggle next to Focus under Allow Messages to Access is turned on (green). If it's off, it doesn't matter how your Focus is set up, no Auto-Reply will go out, no matter what happens.

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Author Details

Elisabeth Garry's picture

Author Details

Elisabeth Garry

Elisabeth Garry is an Associate Editor for iPhone Life. Formerly of Gartner and Software Advice, they have six years of experience writing about technology for everyday users, specializing in iPhones, HomePods, and Apple TV. As a former college writing instructor, they are passionate about effective, accessible communication, which is perhaps why they love helping readers master the strongest communication tools they have available: their iPhones. They have a degree in Russian Literature and Language from Reed College.

When they’re not writing for iPhone Life, they’re reading about maritime disasters, writing fiction, rock climbing, or walking their adorable dog, Moosh.