How To Turn On Focus Assist and Configure It Properly

The new Focus Assist feature will reduce notification distractions. Here is how to turn on Focus Assist and configure it properly in Windows 11.

When using a digital device, be it a mobile phone or PC, distractions are everywhere. There are many types of distractions, like the allure of opening a social media website, doing window shopping on Amazon or other online stores, grabbing some popcorn and going through reddit or YouTube comments sections, unnecessary phone calls, chat messages, and more. Of all kinds of distractions, notifications are one of the worse.

Now, getting notifications regarding important emails or work chat message is nothing wrong. In fact, they are valuable and helpful most of the time. That being said, not all notifications are helpful. Especially the ones which remind you to shop more, photos taken on this day, discounts, etc. To avoid these unnecessary notifications, you can turn off notifications in Windows 11.

However, what if you don’t want to turn off notifications and only want to restrict them such that only important notifications come through? In that case, you must turn on the Focus Assist feature in Windows 11. That way, you will get the best of both worlds. i.e., you can configure Windows 11 to block all notifications completely or only show important ones at a specific time. The good thing is, it is straightforward to turn on or off Focus Assist quickly.

So, without delay, this easy how-to guide will show you how to turn on Focus Assist, schedule Focus Assist and configure Focus Assist rules in Windows 11.

Jump to:

Focus Assist priorities

Windows 11’s Focus Assist feature has three priority levels. These priority levels help you configure how Focus Assist works and what kinds of notifications it will block. While using Focus Assist, it is essential that you know and understand the priorities. That way, you won’t miss another important notification or get unnecessary notifications. Here is what those Focus Assist priorities are and what they mean.

Off: As you can guess, choosing this option will completely turn Focus Assist off. When turned off, all notifications are allowed. Of course, notifications will still respect the Windows 11 Notification settings.

Priority only: This priority level only allows calls, texts, reminders, and notifications from permitted applications. Of course, you can control which apps can and cannot send notifications in this priority. This is the only one you can customize and control of the three priorities.

Alarms only: Selecting this priority will only allow alarm notifications. All notifications, calls, texts, and reminders will be blocked. This priority is helpful if you want to block all notifications.

Turn on Focus Assist in Windows 11

You can turn on Focus Assist in Windows 11 via the Settings app or Quick Settings panel. Both methods achieve the same thing. Follow the one you like.

From the Settings app:

  1. Right-click on the Start icon.
  2. Select the “Settings” option.
  3. Select “System” on the sidebar.
  4. Click “Focus Assist” on the main page.
  5. Select the “Priority only” or “Alarms only” option.
  6. (optional) select the “Show a summary of what I missed when Focus Assist was on” checkbox.
  7. With that, the Focus Assist feature is turned on.
  8. Notifications are blocked according to the selected priority.

Detailed steps with a bit more details and screenshots:

Right-click on the Start icon on the taskbar and select the “Settings” option. This action will open the Windows 11 Settings app. You can also use the “Windows key + I” keyboard shortcut to open the same. After opening the Settings app, choose “System” on the sidebar and then click on the “Focus Assist” option on the main page.

open focus assist settings

On this page, select either the “Priority only” or “Alarms only” option to turn on the Focus Assist feature. You can learn more about the Focus Assist priorities in the above section.

As soon as you select the option, the changes are saved automatically. From now, Windows 11 will only show notifications according to the Focus Assist priority setting. For example, if you chose the “Alarms only” priority, all notifications are blocked except alarms.

turn on focus assist in Windows 11

Note: Follow the next section to customize the “Priority only” list.

From the Quick Settings panel:

To enable Focus Assist from the Windows 11 quick settings panel, follow the below steps.

  1. Click on the “Volume” icon on the taskbar.
  2. Click on the “Focus Assist” button to turn it on.
  3. You can cycle through all three priorities by clicking on the Focus Assist button.
  4. With that, the Focus Assist feature is enabled in Windows 11.
turn on focus assist from Windows 11 quick settings panel

Note: When the Focus Assist feature is turned on, you will see a”half-moon” icon on the taskbar.

focus assist is turned on

Customize Focus Assist “Priority only” list

You can customize the “Priority only” list of the three priorities. It allows you to pick and choose which applications can send notifications and what kinds of notifications you want to receive. Here is how to do it.

Launch the Settings app with the “Start + I” keyboard shortcut. After that, go to the “System > Focus Assist” page. Here, click on the “Customize priority list” link under the “Priority only” option.

customize focus assist priority list

If you want to turn off calls, texts, and reminders notifications, uncheck the “Show incoming calls, including VoIP” and “Show reminder, regardless of all used” checkboxes. Of course, if you want those notifications, select both checkboxes.

change focus assist priority list settings

Under the “Apps” section, you can add or remove an app from the priority list.

To add an app, click the “Add an app” button and choose the app of your choice. As soon as you do that, the app is added to the priority list. Notifications from this application will be allowed when the “Priority only” option is selected.

add an app to focus assist priority list

To remove an app from the Focus Assist priority list, click on the app under the “Apps” list and click the “Remove” button.

Once you click the Remove button, the app is removed from the priority list. That app cannot show notifications when the “Priority only” option is selected.

remove an app from focus assist priority list

Schedule Focus Assist in Windows 11

Rather than turning on and off the Focus Assist feature manually, you can schedule it. That way, Focus Assist will automatically turn on and off at a specific time. For example, you can schedule Focus Assist to turn on in working hours and turn off after that. Here is how to schedule Focus Assist in Windows 11.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go to the “System” page.
  3. Click on the “Focus Assist” option.
  4. Turn on the “During these times” option.
  5. Click on the “During these times” option.
  6. Select a time from the “Start time” and “End time” dropdown menus.
  7. Choose a “Repeat” even from the dropdown menu.
  8. Select a priority from the “Focus level” dropdown menu.
  9. (Optional) select the “Show a notification in action center when focus assist in turned on automatically” checkbox.
  10. With that, the Focus Assist featured scheduled.

Detailed steps:

Open the Windows 11 Settings app with the “Start + I” keyboard shortcut and go to the “System > Focus Assist” page. Here, click on the “During these times” option.

Now, click the “Turn on” button to schedule Focus Assist.

turn on focus assist schedule feature in Windows 11

Next, select a time from the “Start time” and “End time” dropdown menus. The Start Time is when Focus Assist starts, and the End Time is when Focus Assist ends.

Select how often Focus Assist runs from the “Repeats” dropdown menu. I choose the “Daily” option. That means Focus Assist will turn on and off automatically at the given time every day.

Next, select a priority level from the “Focus level” dropdown menu. I chose the “Priority only” option.

(Optional) select the “Show a notification in action center when focus assist in turned on automatically” checkbox. Doing so will show a notification when the Focus Assist feature is turned on.

schedule focus assist in Windows 11

That is all. It is that simple to schedule Focus Assist in Windows 11.

Configure Focus Assist automatic rules

Focus Assist has a few pre-configured automatic rules that change the priority depending on what you are doing. For example, Focus Assist will adjust itself to “Alarms only” to stop showing any sensitive notifications when duplicating your screen.

Here are what those automatic rules are.

  1. During these times: Turning this option on or off will allow you to schedule Focus Assist.
  2. When I’m duplicating my display (Alarms only)
  3. When I’m playing a game (Priority only)
  4. For the first hour after a Windows feature update (Priority only)
  5. When I’m using an app in full-screen mode only (Alarms only)

You can turn the above automatic rules on or off to enable or disable them. Generally, all the automatic rules are pretty good. So, turn them on. It shouldn’t be a problem.

focus assist automatic rules

Turn off Focus Assist in Windows 11

To turn off the Focus Assist feature, follow the below steps:

From the Settings app:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the “System > Focus Assist” page.
  3. Select the “Off” option under the “Focus Assist” section.
  4. With that, the Focus Assist is turned off in Windows 11.
turn off focus assist in Windows 11 from settings app

From the Quick Setting panel:

  1. Click the “Volume” icon on the taskbar.
  2. Click on the “Focus Assist” button until it has no accent color.
  3. With that, the Focus Assist feature is turned off.
turn off focus assist in Windows 11 from the quick settings panel

Note: When the Focus Assist feature is turned off, you will no longer see the “half-moon” icon on the taskbar.

That is all. It is that simple to turn on Focus Assist in Windows 11, schedule Focus Assist in Windows, and configure it to work better.

I hope this easy Windows 11 guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need some help, comment below, and I will try to help as much as possible.

Image credit: Philip Kirk

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