So, first off, what is the purpose of Focus mode exactly? Focus mode is really just a more controllable extension of the “Do Not Disturb” option which has been available on Apple products since 2012. The basic “Do Not Disturb” option allows you to mute calls, notifications and alerts from people and apps so that you can concentrate on a task and avoid being disturbed during an important meeting or during a zoom call for example. And you can schedule “Do Not Disturb” to turn on and off automatically, from let’s say 10pm to 7am. It’s an important feature that has been widely used over the last few years.


With Focus Mode, what Apple has done is simply given you more options to customize your phone for specific tasks throughout the day. There are a few focus mode templates for you to choose from, or you can create your own from scratch.

There is a Work Focus mode that can be setup so that only one or a few people can reach you and maybe just a couple of important work apps are able to send you alerts and notifications while you are in this mode. So, for example, if you’re finishing an important project and really need to focus, you could setup Work mode so that only a few team members can reach you, and only your work email app and slack are able to send you notifications and alerts. And it would automatically mute any notifications from social media, news and gaming apps. You’re in full control of this, so you get to decide exactly what gets through and what is muted.

Or you could do basically the opposite and setup a Personal mode for the weekend that only allows close friends and family to reach you and only allows a few apps to send you notifications. So, no pesky text messages from the co-worker with no boundaries or slack messages during this time.

But the possibilities are endless. Apple has created a few modes you can start from such as Sleep, Driving, Fitness, Gaming, Mindfulness and Reading. But you can create entirely new custom modes for cooking, yoga, painting, fishing or whatever else you want to be able to do with less distractions.
You can also set up these modes to turn on automatically based on time, location or when you start using certain apps. For example, you can set it up so that your Reading Focus mode turns on automatically when you open up the Kindle or Books app on your iPhone or iPad. Or Gaming mode when you start playing a game. Or Fitness mode when you get to your gym or Yoga studio. And so on …

The basic “Do Not Disturb” mode is indicated by a little crescent Moon icon, but you can assign a different icon to each mode you end up setting up. That way, each Focus mode has its own visual indicator that lets you know which mode you’re currently in.


Your various Focus modes can always be turned on and off from your Control Center. But, to initially set up the various modes, you need to go to your settings and find the Focus section. From there, you can choose one of the options Apple has provided for you, or click on the + sign on the top right of your screen and that will give you even more custom options. From there follow the instructions and it will guide you on setting up who is allowed to reach you while in this mode, and you can also choose which apps are allowed.