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How to Set Up and Use Focus Modes [Video Tutorial]

20th September 2021

Jacob Woolcock


One of the top new features in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 is called Focus. It may seem a little confusing at first, but once you get it set up it will completely change how you use your device. This new feature is like the popular Do Not Disturb mode, but SO much more powerful! Set a custom Focus mode for Work, the Gym, Driving or anything else and you can completely customise the Apps and Contacts that you receive Notifications you’ll get when it’s active.

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One of the biggest new features in iOS 15 is called Focus.

Here’s a QuickTip video to getting started using Focus mode.

In the past, on our iOS devices, we’ve had a feature called Do Not Disturb.

When you turn that on, any notifications that you get will not pop onto the screen and you won’t get any alerts.

Instead they’ll be delivered silently into Notification Centre for you.

Focus will let you customise the notifications that you see and when you see them – and you can create different profiles based on where you are during your day.

Let’s jump into Settings and we’ll tap onto the new Focus option.

Straight away you’ll see different options for Focus modes – including personal, work and driving – and at the top there’s Do Not Disturb, the one we’re familiar with.

If I tap onto there I can now customise how that works a little bit.

There’s an option at the top of that Settings page called Allowed Notifications and from here you can choose what people or what Apps are allowed to break through that Do Not Disturb barrier.

So for me I’m going to add my fiancée Sapphy as a contact who can message me at any time even if Do Not Disturb is turned on.

Equally I can add certain Apps – for example the Breaking News App – or maybe my Reminders App and they will always pop through even when Do Not Disturb is turned on.

This is great because I can then fine-tune exactly what notifications I get when I put on Do Not Disturb mode.

But with Focus we can go even further.

Let’s jump back a page to that list of different Focus modes – and now we’re going to go on to Work.

You can see I’ve been using the Work mode already.

So I’ve got a few Contacts and a few Apps that I’ve already enabled – that means when I go to Work I can get messages from my immediate family and from Apps that I use at work.

If I tap on the App selection you can see that I’ve got about a dozen different Apps there that I want notifications for when I’m at work – but I don’t want notifications from the games that I play at home and other social media networks.

Of course I can completely customise what Apps I do and don’t see here.

So I can add the Reminders app as easily as tapping on the Plus button and then searching for Reminders.

In fact my iPhone knows I probably want to use Reminders while I’m at work and it suggested it there was one of the Apps at the top to add.

At the bottom of the Apps page there’s an option called Time Sensitive as well, with a little switch.

You can choose if you want this setting enabled or not, but basically what it means is if there’s a notification that comes through that’s quite urgent or quite pressing (maybe a Reminder for an event in five minutes or a breaking news alert) it will always push through if it’s deemed urgent enough.

It’s up to you if you want that on or not.

I’m going to leave mine on so I don’t miss anything too important.

Another really handy feature of Focus is that you can actually share your Focus status with your Contacts if you want to.

So for example, if I was at work or driving and a friend messages me and they’re not allowed to get through that Focus barrier that I’ve put up, they might think I’m being rude for not replying all day.

But my iPhone can let them know at the bottom of the screen that actually I’ve got a Focus mode turned on and I’ll get back then when I turn that off later – which makes it a little bit more understandable for my friends.

And the other great thing that I like about Focus is that you can have it automatically switch modes at different times of day or even different locations.

So for my Work Mode I’m going to set that to automatically change when I arrive at work.

Because my phone knows where I live and where I work, all I have to do is tap onto Location and then choose Work.

And now every time I arrive at school my phone will switch into this new Focus mode.

Focus will even set these new settings to synchronise across all of your iOS and Mac devices – so if your phone goes into Work Mode when you arrive at work, your iPad in your bag will do the same thing.

When you get home all your devices can go back into Personal mode or when you’re driving you can customise exactly what happens.

When you’re out on the road you can even set up Auto-Reply Messages to send people a message if they try and get in touch with you during one of your Focus Mode sessions.

I think this is a really clever new feature and there are lots more advanced things that it can do as well that I’ll cover in some additional videos.

Make sure you Subscribe to my Channel down below for all of these iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 #QuickTips and I’ll see you next time.

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