Developer and marketing teams in Microsoft are constantly inventing and looking for new functions that could be added to their new operating systems. Apart from traditional cosmetic interface changes, sometimes completely new features appear. Corporation’s leading experts are trying hard to keep up with the digital evolution and never fall behind their closest competitors on the market that create alternative systems for personal computers. The mode we will be talking about today (also known as "Focus Assist") has been presented in Windows 8 – it’s the main purpose is to completely or partially disable unwanted pop-up notifications and alerts.
This feature was added to complement the new Windows’ notification mechanism. It proved to be very useful because a constant flow of alerts and events can be really annoying, so no wonder that in Windows 10 this mode updated.
How can I use Focus Assist?
Notifications with system events appearing in pop-up windows in the right lower corner of the screen (system tray) serve one purpose – to enhance the interactivity of user experience. Those messages are sent by various programs, working in the background, and won’t allow you to miss any important event or perform required actions in time when something critical happens within the system.
Third-party developers created first apps that had integrated notifications and users had to install them manually as standalone programs. In Linux-based operating systems the alert mechanism functions as a part of the KDE Display Manager. It has a long history, and it stopped being something new for Linux users years ago. Now it is Windows’ time to shine and develop a module with similar functionality that can be easily configured by each user according to their personal needs and desires. And this is what Microsoft has been doing with Focus Assist in their latest operating systems.
We understand that in some cases having notifications pop up here and there all the time is not a good option. For instance, if you need to concentrate on a very important task or delicate process, alerts will only distract you, thus reducing your productivity and lowering concentration. Or if you are streaming, conducting a webinar, or coaching unnecessary online notifications will ruin the process. Microsoft also understands this, which is why they created a special tool for tuning system notifications.
The "Do Not Disturb mode" is exactly what you need to deal with unwanted alerts. When Windows 8 came out, users had an option to create schedules to automatically enable and disable this mode, which is an optimal solution. However, in Windows 10 developers cut that function out and left users only with the manual configuration tools. Some may disapprove this decision, but at least we still have a working mechanism to set personal preferences or disable notification completely.
How to Enable "Do not disturb mode" (Focus Assist)
As we already said, now you can switch Focus Assist on and off manually whenever you want. When this mode is enabled, you won’t see any notifications. If this is what you need, follow the instruction below to disable Focus Assist:
- Right-click on the Notification Center icon (can be found on your taskbar, right side).
- Find «Focus Assist» and set it to "Priority only" as shown on the screenshot. After doing so, you will see priority notifications from the system
- Or select "Alarms only" if you want to be notified only by alarms.
Additionally, you can select priority options from the Setting app. Note: alarms here refers to user-set alarms in apps such as Alarms & Clocks app.
You can also open the Action Center by pressing Win+A on your keyboard or selecting the "Focus Assist" tile in the Notification Center. This way you can also switch between Off and On ("Priority Only" or "Alarms Only"). If you don’t have a tile with "Focus Assist" - you should click the "Expand" option at the bottom of the Notification Center.
Enabling/disabling Focus Assist can be done using the Settings app. Go to the Start button menu, select Settings, click System, find Focus Assist. In its menu, you will see the same options we talked about: Off, Priority Only, and Alarms Only. Choose what you want to deactivate Focus Assist or leave it enabled.
Additional alarm settings
Besides disabling all notifications, you also have a good alternative option, which will allow you to fine-tune the alert mechanism. Therefore, it is possible to disable only unwanted/unnecessary notifications leaving the most important ones active. In order to do so, you need to do the following:
- Open your Notification center.
- Find the Focus Assist tile.
- Right-click on it to open a context menu.
- Go to Properties.
- Use the switch to deactivate notifications you don’t need.
In addition to that, you can configure notification received from apps installed on your computer. While in the "Notifications & actions" menu (in Settings > System), scroll down until you see "Get notifications from these senders." Toggle off everything you don’t want to disturb you.
This method lets you configure settings for the "Do not disturb mode" as you wish despite having no instruments to create automated schedules. Windows 10 is a very flexible system; you just need to know where the levers to control its functions are.
After tuning the "Do not disturb mode," you will notice that it has become more comfortable to work in Windows. You won’t be distracted by unwanted notifications such as those that give you basic advice on how to do simple things. But all important alerts will be there if you want, so nothing worth your attention will slip unnoticed.
Many Windows 10 users also recommend silencing the notification alerts. It is useful when preparing for a presentation or you don’t want to be interrupted by the sound of notification bubbles as well as their banners. We recommend turning off notification bubbles on the Lock Screen (go to "Settings," select "System," open "Notifications and actions," and toggle "Show notifications on the lock screen" off). In the same menu, you may consider disabling the «Show alarms, reminders and incoming VOIP calls on the lock screen» option as well, so none of those messages will appear on your Lock Screen.
Concluding this guide, we must admit that Windows 10 offers enough flexible options for all kinds of users when it comes to notifications and alerts. But you must remember to configure them manually.