Windows 10 has always has a ‘do not disturb’ setting, but as of the April 2018 Update it’s now called Focus assist instead of Quiet hours. There are some useful new features, too, and here we’ll show you how to use them.

On phones, do-not-disturb modes are mainly used overnight to stop notifications bothering you when you’re asleep.

The defaults for Focus assist are similar: 11pm to 7am. However, as the name suggests, the new feature is better suited to avoiding distractions while you’re working. It can stop all notifications when it’s on, and you can set it to come on automatically when playing a game or making a presentation.

It can also be configured to allow notifications from priority people or apps, to ensure you’re only disturbed by messages that are really important.

How do I turn on Focus assist?

Click on the message icon to the right of the clock at the bottom-right of the screen, or press Windows+A to open the Action Centre.

Among the shortcuts at the bottom you’ll find Focus assist with a moon icon. Click or tap it (if you have a touchscreen) to toggle through the three states: Off > Priority only > Alarms only.

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

In Priority only mode, you’ll see notifications from people and apps you’ve chosen, and we’ll explain how to configure that below.

As you’d expect, in Alarms only mode you won’t get any notifications at all, but alarms you’ve set will still pop up.

Other ways to turn on Focus assist include automatically scheduled hours, when you play a DirectX game or when you’re duplicating your screen. You’ll find these three options under Settings > System > Focus assist.

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

How do I customise Focus assist?

First, you can click on any of the three automatic rules to change their settings.

Click on ‘During these times’ and you can change the hours when Focus assist turns on automatically. You can choose whether these times are for weekdays or the weekend, but unfortunately you can’t pick specific days, nor set multiple time periods.

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

For the other two, clicking them gives you the option to choose Priority only or Alarms only:

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

Priority people and apps

To choose which notifications you see when Focus assist is on, click the Customise your priority list link.

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

At the top are three tick-boxes for calls, texts and reminders. Ticking any of these means you will see notifications for those things on a linked phone running the Cortana app. But this applies only to Android and – if you still have one – Windows Phone. The feature isn’t supported with the iOS app.

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

Scroll down and you’ll see a People section. Here you can add contacts that can break through when Focus assist is on. However, this works only for supported apps – mainly those that are built into Windows 10.

If you’ve pinned contacts to the Taskbar, you don’t need to add them to the list here: just make sure the tick-box for this is checked.

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

How to use Focus assist Windows 10

Finally, you can pick which apps can still show notifications when Focus assist is on and set to Priority only mode. Again, this list is limited and won’t include all the apps on your computer: mainly those built into Windows or downloaded from the Windows Store.

How do I see notifications I missed?

At the bottom of the Focus assist settings is a tick-box that will display a summary of suppressed notifications when Focus assist is turned off, either manually or automatically.

You might also like to know how to use Timeline in Windows 10.

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