How to set up and use the Focus feature in iOS 15


While Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature has worked to a certain extent all these years, it’s always lacked flexibility and customization options. That’s all set to change with the addition of Focus in iOS 15, which ups the ante on Do Not Disturb and expands on its capabilities.

With Focus, you’re able to choose from a variety of modes like Driving, Personal, Sleep, or Work (in addition to Do Not Disturb) and even create your own. You can also tweak certain settings by permitting alerts from designated contacts and apps, as well as enable status updates.

Here’s how to set up and use Focus in iOS 15.

1. Open “Settings” and tap “Focus”

You can find it under Settings.

Credit: screenshot / apple

The feature offers a list of pre-made Focus modes.

The feature offers a list of pre-made Focus modes.

Credit: SCREENSHOT / APPLE

To access the Focus feature, open your Settings, scroll down until you see its respective tab, and tap on it. From there, you’ll see all of your different Focus options:

  • Do Not Disturb

  • Driving

  • Personal

  • Sleep

  • Work

You can also access the Focus feature from the Control Center. Swipe down on the right side of the display and you’ll see a dedicated section for the feature on the left. When you long-press on it, you’ll see all of the same Focus options as listed above.

You can also access Focus through the Control Center.

You can also access Focus through the Control Center.
Credit: screenshot / apple

From here, you have access to different shortcuts for each Focus mode and the ability to access the Settings menu.

2. Choose your “Focus”

You can choose from the existing list or create your own.

You can choose from the existing list or create your own.

Credit: Screenshot / apple

There are also a lot of customization options.

There are also a lot of customization options.

Credit: screenshot / apple

Now it’s time to set up your Focus Mode. For the purpose of this tutorial, let’s say you choose “Personal.” When you tap on it, you’ll be brought to a new window with a ton of different options you can customize including:

  • Allow Notifications: Here, you can choose which contacts and apps you still want to receive notifications from when the mode is enabled.

  • Time Sensitive Notifications: You can toggle this on or off to allow contacts and apps to notify you right away while using Focus.

  • Share Focus Status: When this setting is turned on, it’ll send apps (like iMessage) a notification that your alerts are muted. For example, when you select the Fitness Focus, the alert will let people know you’re exercising. If Reading Focus is on, it’ll let others know you’re currently reading, and so on.

  • Customize the Home Screen: You can toggle on whether you want to hide notification badges or you can choose which home screen pages you want to see.

  • Customize the Lock Screen: You can choose to dim the lock screen and also whether you want to show silenced notifications.

  • Turn on Automations: Rather than having to manually enable Focus mode, you can create an automation that triggers it depending on a specific time, location, or app that you open (such as the Books app, Mail app, etc). There’s also the Smart Activation feature which, over time, learns when to turn the mode on based on location, app usage, and more.

It’s worth noting that some Focus modes have slightly different customization options. For example, Sleep mode also lets you adjust your bedtime and wake up time, while Driving mode has a few additional Automation options like “Activate automatically,” “When connected to Car Bluetooth,” or “Manually.”

Remember Away Messages? This is kinda like that.

Remember Away Messages? This is kinda like that.

Credit: screenshot / apple 

The feature allows you to set different contacts that can still call you when a Focus mode is on.

The feature allows you to set different contacts that can still call you when a Focus mode is on.

Credit: screenshot / apple

There are also a few additional ways you can customize each Focus Mode. On the main page, it gives you the option to control which apps are notified of your Focus Status and who you want to allow calls from for all modes.

3. How to create your own “Focus” mode

You can tap on the plus sign to create your own Focus mode.

You can tap on the plus sign to create your own Focus mode.

Credit: screenshot / apple

Tap on the custom option.

Tap on the custom option.

Credit: screenshot / apple

The Focus feature also offers the ability to create your own Focus mode. To do this, go to Settings > Focus and then tap on the plus sign in the corner, and tap on the “Custom” tab.

You can also access the option to create your own Focus Mode from the Control Center.

You can also access the option to create your own Focus Mode from the Control Center.
Credit: screenshot / apple

You can also access this through the Control Center by long-pressing on the Focus section and tapping on the “New Focus” option.

From there, the setup process will prompt you to name the new Focus, choose a specific label color, and an icon from the list.

Assign a color to your Focus mode.

Assign a color to your Focus mode.

Credit: Screenshot / apple

Choose your icon, too.

Choose your icon, too.

Credit: screenshot / mashable

From there, you can choose specific contacts and apps to allow notifications from and whether you want time-sensitive notifications. Then tap “Done.”

The new Focus mode will be added to the list of other modes on the main page. You can edit it whenever you’d like by tapping on it to access the full menu of options.

4. How to manually manage “Focus” modes

You can toggle it on and off in the Control Center.

You can toggle it on and off in the Control Center.
Credit: screenshot / apple

Once you’ve set up each mode, you can automate them so that each one turns on at a specific time. You can also manually turn the modes on and off, as well.

To do this, wipe down to access the Control Center, long-press on Focus, and then tap on the mode you want to enable. To disable a mode, simply follow the same steps.

Whenever a Focus Mode is turned on, its respective icon will appear on the lock screen. So, you can always just long-press the icon on the lock screen to disable it.

Easy enough.

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