How to Use Focus Mode on your iPhone

Focus Mode

The new Focus mode will be a gamechanger in how you use your iPhone, or rather, not use it when you’re busy.

Apple’s annual event, the Worldwide Developer’s Conference, is officially underway. Just like every year, it has kicked off with exciting new releases. Apple announced and showcased the new and upcoming iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8. And to say that the whole community is buzzed and excited would be putting things too plainly.

All the new releases will be coming in the fall for the public. But the developer beta profile is already available. And the public beta isn’t that far away.

But FOMO is a real rabbit hole. And if you’re here, chances are, you’ve already fallen down it and installed iOS 15 beta. If you do happen to be one of the early birds, there are a lot of new things to discover. Even though changes in iOS 15 aren’t as grand as iOS 14, you’d find that the new updates are still pretty exciting.

A lot of these new updates are focused (no pun intended) on keeping your life streamlined and centered. Whether it’s work or personal, life is all about balance. And iOS 15 intends to help you keep that balance intact. From a smarter notification center to a Focus mode, you’ll find that iOS 15 has more features than ever to help you maintain focus.

Note: This is a beta feature and won’t be available generally until the public release of iOS 15 or macOS 12 later in fall 2021.

What is Focus Mode in iOS 15?

We all know and love DND in our iPhones. With our iPhones constantly keeping us up to date about everything, they sometimes also become a nuisance pulling us in all four directions. In times like these, we put our phones on DND to shut down all the noise.

But sometimes, DND can be too drastic. You can’t always forget about everything and put your phone on DND. Suppose you’re at work and want to focus, but your phone constantly keeps buzzing. DND won’t always be a great solution because you will want notifications from your co-workers to get through.

Focus mode changes that. With Focus mode on, only the notifications that you want to get through will, and the rest will be filtered. There are different Focus modes for Work, Personal, Driving, Fitness, Gaming, and Reading. And you can even create your own Custom Focus Mode.

With Work Focus on, only your work notifications will get through. So, whether you want to work or enjoy a nice family dinner without distractions, Focus is the mode to turn on.

The DND and Sleep modes also fall under Focus in iOS 15. Focus mode also uses on-device intelligence to give you suggestions based on location or the time of day to turn on a particular focus. For example, iOS might suggest you turn on Fitness focus when you go to the gym.

Focus mode is also shared across your devices. So, if you turn on Focus on your iPhone, your iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac will also enter Focus mode automatically, but you can turn this setting off.

iOS 15 also introduces a new feature that lets others know that your notifications are on mute. Whether you’re using DND or Focus, when someone sends you an iMessage, they’ll get an alert on their screens that’ll let them know about your status.

How to Set Up a Focus on iPhone

On an iPhone using iOS 15, go to your Settings and scroll down. Then, tap the ‘Focus’ option.

Depending on what you want to set up the Focus mode for first, tap that option. The options for Work and Personal Focus will be visible straight away. For other options like, tap the ‘+’ in the top-right corner.

Then, select the option you want to set up. Here, let’s set up the work Focus mode. Tap the option for ‘Work’.

An overview of features available in Focus will appear. Tap ‘Next’ to move forward.

Tap ‘Add Contact’ to add the people from whom you still want to receive notifications even when Focus is turned on. You can also tap ‘Allow None’ to move forward without allowing notifications from anyone.

After adding the contacts, tap ‘Allow <n> People’.

Then, add any apps you don’t want to silence notifications for in Work Focus. These could be your work apps like Microsoft Teams, Webex, Zoom, etc. – basically any apps you want to allow.Tap ‘Allow <n> Apps’ after adding the apps or ‘Allow none’ to silence notifications from all the apps.

Next, you can choose to allow time-sensitive notifications. Notifications from delivery apps or Home fall under this category. Tap ‘Allows Time Sensitive’ to turn them on.

Focus will now be set up with default settings.

Customizing Home Screen in Focus

You can also set up a custom Home screen to go along with your Work Focus (the same goes for all other Focus modes too). A custom home screen won’t mean that the entire Home screen will be different when Focus is on. What you have to do is customize a Home screen page (or two) to have your work-related apps and widgets. Then, choose to display only those home screen pages when Focus is on.

Then, from the Focus settings, tap ‘Home screen’.

Turn on the toggle for ‘Custom Pages’. Now, tap ‘Choose Pages’.

Then, select the pages to display when Work Focus is on and tap ‘Done’.

How to Turn on Focus?

Once you’ve set up a Focus, you can easily turn it on at any time. Swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen to bring up Control Center.

You’ll see that the option that used to be DND is now a combination of DND and Focus. Tapping on the ‘Moon’ part of the icon will turn on DND. To turn on Focus, tap the second part, i.e., ‘Focus’.

The options for Focus will appear. Tap ‘Work’ to turn on work focus.

Automatically Enable Focus with ‘Smart Activation’

You can also turn on Smart Activation for Focus so it’ll be turned on automatically based on certain signals such as location, time, or when you open an app.

Go to Focus from settings and open the focus you want to set smart activation for.

Tap ‘Smart Activation’ from the options.

Then, turn on the toggle for it.

iOS will intelligently use your past actions to determine when to turn on the Focus.

There’s also an option to set automations for time, location, and app yourself so Focus will automatically turn on whenever these conditions are met. There’s no guesswork or smart decisions based on iOS’s part here.

Tap the ‘+’ option above Smart Activation to set up automations.


It can be hard to maintain your focus on the task at hand when your phone is constantly buzzing. With iOS 15, you can force yourself to Focus.