How to turn off notifications for certain apps on the weekend on your iPhone and Apple Watch

custom focus in do not disturb on Apple Watch

One aspect of working from home is that the volume of notifications on our iPhones and Apple Watches has gone through the roof.

This reality is especially true if you use multiple email apps for business and personal, social media apps, and many other apps that constantly crave our attention.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn off notifications from some of the work-related apps on Friday at 6 PM and turn them back on Monday at 8 AM?

Not everyone’s profession and career choices allow for this luxury.

For those who can better manage their life/work balance and spend time on the weekends to work out or travel or meet friends, you can choose to set up small automation that helps you turn on the app notifications you want and turn off and silence the app notifications you don’t want. 

This automation feature called Focus is available in Apple’s iOS 15+ and watchOS 8+ and helps you better manage distractions from app notifications and alerts.

With a Focus, you can select Allowed Notifications from people and apps and can even let people who send you messages using those disallowed apps that you have notifications and alerts silenced.

Here is how you can use this feature to allow and disallow notifications and alerts from selected apps over the weekend.

Related reading

How to set up and use a custom iOS 15+ Focus feature with selected apps

The trick with setting up a Focus is to choose what apps and people you want to allow notifications from–any apps or contacts you don’t allow are automatically turned off (silenced.)

It’s a little confusing, so let me break it down. 

  1. Open Control Center on your iPhone running iOS 15+ or go to the Settings app.
  2. Tap on Focus.iOS 15 Focus for app notifications
  3. Tap on the + icon to set up a new Focus to get started. If you don’t see this icon, scroll down. iOS and watchOS make a new Focus
  4. Choose Custom and type in a name for your Focus.Name your custom focus
  5. Select color and an icon for the custom focus (optional.)
  6. Set up your Focus by selecting Allowed Notifications from people and apps. Any contacts or apps that you do not allow are automatically disallowed and notifications will be silenced.
    1. Choose which contacts that you want notifications and calls to come from.
      1. Add someone by tapping the Add Person (+) icon. Remove someone by tapping the minus symbol (-) or tap Remove All if you don’t want any notifications at all. iOS Focus notification allowed settings for notifications
      2. Scroll down to Other People and select which contacts you allow calls from. Set up who you allow calls from on an Apple iOS Focus
      3. Tap Allow to save your selections. If you don’t way any notifications or calls from any contacts, tap Allow None.
    2. Now choose the apps you want notifications from.
      1. Add an app by tapping the Add App (+) icon. Remove an app by tapping the minus symbol (-) or tap Remove All if you don’t want any notifications at all. Choose which apps you allow for your Apple iOS Focus
      2. Choose if you want to permit disallowed apps to send notifications that are time sensitive. When you enable time-sensitive notifications, it overrides your Focus settings and you get that notification even when you have your Focus on.
      3. Tap Allow to save your selections. If you don’t way any notifications from any apps, tap Allow None.
    3. Once you finish all these steps, you get a message that your Focus is ready! iOS Focus is ready to use
    4. Tap Done to see the Focus and all its current settings. Notice that the Focus is disabled by default (toggled off) and not active.iOS Focus settings details page

In my case, I handpicked selected apps that I use over the weekend for fitness and health.

Remember that any apps or contacts not on this list will not be able to send you notifications whenever this focus is active.

Next, set up a schedule for your custom Focus 

  1. Scroll down to the section Turn on Automatically.
    1. Tap Add Schedule or Automation.
  2. Next, tap on Time to set up the schedule for the Focus.
    1. You can also select a Location (like when you arrive at your vacation spot) or even when you use a specific App. We do not recommend using Smart Activation.automation settings for Apple Focus
  3. On the Time automation screen, toggle on Schedule if that’s an option.
    1. Scroll down to the days of the week and toggle off all days except Saturday and Sunday.
    2. Then, set up when you want the Focus to be active each day, from start to finish AM and PM (for all-day choose 12 AM to 11:59 PM.) Finally, tap Done to save. Setting up a Focus to last all day
  4. If you choose Location or App instead of time, choose the location or the app you want to use the Focus for.

Now you have a custom focus on your iPhone that only allows notifications from your selected apps and contacts during the weekends.How to set up custom focus in iOS 15

Additional Focus features

You can also turn on additional features via the Options section on the focus’ details screen.custom focus options

  • Select Focus Status and toggle on Share Focus Status to share your focus status to people who message you so they know that you have notifications silenced.
  • Tap Home Screen to hide notification badges on home screen apps. Or pick specific home screen pages to show when your Focus is on.
  • Choose Lock Screen to dim your lock screen or show silenced notifications on your lock screen during the Focus.

How to turn on your Focus

Now that you set up your Focus with all your preferred notification settings, it’s time to test it out!

  1. Go to Settings > Focus or open Control Center and tap the Focus tile. Focus settings in Control Center iOS
  2. Tap your Focus’ name (i.e. weekend warrior) and turn it on.
    1. Tapping your Focus once in the control center automatically turns it on. turn on a focus using iOS Control Center
    2. Toggle your Focus on in the Settings app. turn a focus on in the Settings app

Once on, your focus remains active according to its schedule. If it doesn’t have a set schedule or you want to turn it off before the end of its schedule, tap it again to turn off or toggle it off in the Settings app.

How to share this Focus with other devices, including Macs, iPads, iPhones, and Apple Watch

If you want to share this focus with all your devices that you sign in using the same Apple ID, go to Settings > Focus and toggle on Share Across Devices. Share Focus settings across all devices using the same Apple ID

To share a focus, all devices must run iOS15+, iPadOS15+, watchOS8+, or macOS Monterey.

You cannot currently share a focus with a family member in your Apple Family plan.

Want to change your Focus notification, call, or other settings?

If you need to update your Focus’ settings, that’s easy!

  1. Go to Settings > Focus or open Control Center > Focus.
  2. Select the Focus that you want to update. When using Control Center, tap the More Button (three dots) and then choose Settings. iOS Control Center update the settings and customizations on a Focus

How to delete your Focus

If you decide that the focus isn’t working for you or don’t need it anymore, it’s simple to delete.

Just open the Focus settings, scroll down, and tap Delete Focus. And confirm you wish to delete it!

Apple remove and delete a focus from iPhone iOS

Summary

We hope this article provided you with some ideas about customizing the Focus features in iOS 15+ and watchOS 8+ and using it to maintain a healthier work/life balance.

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments, and feel free to check out our comprehensive guide on Apple’s new Focus feature.

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.

6 COMMENTS

    • Hi Daniel,

      Yup, you are correct. We meant 12 AM to 12 AM (darn auto correct!)–but this doesn’t always work, so it’s best to use 12 AM to 11:59 PM.

      Thanks for the heads up, we corrected the article.

      Amanda

  1. This will allow notifications from certain apps. What I want, and what the premise and title of this article is, but is not described in the article is how to hide notifications from certain apps. Can it be done? If so how? Please correct the article.

    • Hi Mikael,

      The way Apple designed the Focus feature is that you choose to allow apps and contacts rather than disallow them. Any apps or contacts that are not on your allowed list are automatically disallowed. The assumption is that there are fewer apps/people you wish to allow than disallow.

      If you don’t want to allow any app or contact, choose Remove All from the focus’ settings (Settings app > Focus > select your focus > under Allowed Notifications tap people and choose Remove All, then tap Apps and repeat.)

  2. How is native app notification scheduling not a thing? Things like this and Apple’s continued refusal of a simple Location toggle switch still drive me insane as a former Android user, given that we had these options more than a DECADE ago.

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