How to turn off notifications in iOS and iPadOS

How to stop your iPhone or iPad from distracting you with endless notifications.

A step-by-step guide to freedom from annoying iPhone and iPad notifications: turning them off, using Do Not Disturb mode, or customizing notifications

If endless notifications from messaging apps, games, and social networks keep breaking your concentration, filter the data stream on your iPhone or iPad to get rid of unnecessary notifications and properly configure the ones you actually want.

Alerts you shouldn’t skip

To protect your data (and money), it’s important to pay attention to several types of notifications.

  • Operating system and app updates. Developers regularly close security holes in their products, but cybercriminals are constantly looking for devices on which such patches have not yet been installed. Critical alerts help you update in time and avoid falling victim to an attack.
  • Notifications from bank apps. Although you shouldn’t disable text messages from banks, it’s safe to filter their apps’ push notifications. For example, you might want to opt out of promotional mailings, but you should probably keep receiving messages about payments, transfers, and login attempts.
  • Messages from digital platforms. Well-equipped gaming accounts are hot stuff on the black market. The same goes for airline, store, and similar loyalty program accounts. As with online banking, you need to watch out for messages about password reset attempts and other suspicious actions.

Other notifications do not tend to require instant response, so they are safe to turn off. Here’s how to do that on an iPhone or iPad (see tips for other devices here).

Setting up notifications on iPhone and iPad

The easiest way to cut yourself off from the outside world is by activating silent mode. To enable it, simply slide the switch on the side of the device so that the orange mark is visible. In silent mode, ringtones and notification sounds are off, but alarms and vibrations stay on.

To turn off notification vibrations as well:

  • Open Settings,
  • Go to Sounds & Haptics or Sounds,
  • Toggle off the switches for Vibrate on Ring and Vibrate on Silent.

Turning off all notifications

Now, we’ll examine some of your device’s more advanced features for adapting to your lifestyle.

If you want to spend some time in total silence, enable Do Not Disturb mode, which keeps your phone from distracting you with calls or messages. Alarms still work in DND mode, so you can safely activate the feature before going to bed and not worry about being late for work in the morning.

To enable Do Not Disturb mode, pull up the Control Center and tap the crescent moon icon. Hold it down to adjust the duration.

You can also access DND in the device’s settings, under Notifications, and set a Do Not Disturb mode schedule as well.

On the same screen, you can allow incoming calls from certain contacts when in Do Not Disturb mode, as well as calls that come in more than once in quick succession:

  • Tap Allow Calls From to allow calls from selected caller groups;
  • To add a number to this list, select a contact and tap Add to Favorites;
  • Toggle the green switch for Repeated Calls to see notifications if someone tries to call you several times in a row.

You can also turn on automatic replies so that the iPhone answers people who try to contact you. To do so, tap Auto-Reply and write what you want it to say. The default message says you are driving. To specify who will receive these messages, tap Auto-Reply To and select: No One, Favorites, All Contacts, or Recents.

Setting up app notifications

Instead of choosing all or nothing, you can adjust each app’s notification settings separately. For example, you can choose pop-up banners but no beep, dot-style badges with the number of missed messages, or any other combination. Open Settings, then Notifications, and scroll down to the list of apps to get started.

You can instead opt to configure alerts as they come in, for example, through notifications on a locked device, in the Notification Center, or through banners that appear at the top of the screen. In the first two cases, swipe the notification to the left and then select Manage. In the third, pull the banner down and tap Do not disturb or the three dots in the upper right corner. In the window that opens, you will see two options:

  • Deliver Quietly mutes messages from this app and does not display them on the lock screen. In this mode, notifications collect in the Notification Center, which you can open by swiping down from the top of the screen or up from the middle of the screen on the locked device.
  • Turn Off… — the name speaks for itself: Notifications from this app will be completely banned. To enable them again, go to Notifications, select the app in the list, and toggle the green Allow notifications switch.

Another important Notification option, Show Previews controls message previews. Hide those previews to keep anyone from viewing bits of your messages or calendar items if the device is locked (or at all).

More tips for digital peace of mind

Still distracted? Time to amp up the control. Open Settings, find Screen Time mode, and tap Turn On Screen Time. Screen Time includes useful features such as:

  • Statistics to show how much time you spend on different apps and websites;
  • Downtime mode, which temporarily blocks all apps on the iPhone or iPad, except for those you add to the Always Allowed exception list under Screen Time. Phone calls remain available.
  • App Limits helps users cut down on time spent on social media or gaming by enforcing a usage time limit, after which all programs in the selected category (social networks, games, entertainment, etc.) will stop working.

To block one app but not another in the same category, you must also add the latter to the Always allowed list. App limits reset every day at midnight.

If you really need to use an app after exhausting the daily usage limit, you can temporarily lift the restriction or remove it altogether. To temporarily disable limits for a specific category, go to the category section and toggle the App Limit switch. To remove a limit, tap Delete Limit in the same place.

Zen and nirvana

That’s all you need to know about turning off notifications on iPhone and iPad, as well as the various options for managing them. And if you’re tired of notifications from browsers, turn them off as well (see Getting rid of browser notifications).

For even more peace-of-mind tips, visit our Digital Comfort Zone.