Software

How to set notification priorities with Focus Assist in Windows 10

An April 2018 Update feature in Windows 10 can help you maintain focus on the task at hand by blocking system notifications, but you must configure it first. Here's how you do it.

The Windows 10 April 2018 update includes many new and improved features, some of which you will notice immediately. Other new features may reveal themselves in unexpected or undesired ways unless you take the time to tweak and adjust them. That's just what needs to be done whenever there is a major update to Microsoft Windows 10.

Focus Assist is a Windows 10 feature that allows users to control how and when the operating system notifies them of newly received email, messages, phone calls, and alarms. After you set priorities and adjust its configuration, Focus Assist can block certain notifications, allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand without being disturbed by a flurry of unrelated activity.

Focus Assist provides Windows 10 users with more flexibility, and it's a great idea; however, for many users, the default settings will need a bit of tweaking. This brief how-to tutorial will show you how to access Focus Assist and adjust its configuration settings so that it operates the way you want it to operate.

Note: This article is also available as part of a free PDF that features a variety of Windows 10 April 2018 Update tips and techniques.

Focus Assist

To access Focus Assist, open the Windows 10 Settings screen found on the Start Menu. From Windows Settings, click the System link. Use the left navigation bar and click on the Focus Assist link, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

afocusassist.png

As you can see, the default setting is to receive all notifications, which can be very annoying. By clicking the Priority Only button, you can restrict notifications to just the activities and people you deem to be important. Click Customize Your Priority List to see your choices (Figure B).

Figure B

bfocusassist.png

By creating a list of priority people from your contacts, you can limit interruptions to a select few. You can also place limits on which apps will be allowed to send you notifications. Oddly, the default apps refer to Xbox, which I never want to be notified about.

You can also configure Focus Assist to notify you of alarms only, eliminating notifications stemming from emails and text messages. This setting supersedes your priority settings and produces the least number of popup notifications.

Under Automatic Rules, you can configure Focus Assist to be active during certain time periods, or when certain applications are running, or awhen specific activities are taking place. Left-clicking on the text of these settings will allow you to adjust their details (Figure C).

Figure C

cfocusassist.png

The last setting in Focus Assist is a toggle switch that will provide you with a summary of every notification Focus Assist held for you while it was on, if you wish. But be forewarned: Depending on how long the app has been active, this list could be extensive.

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

Personal preference

The Focus Assist app that was added to Windows 10 in the April 2018 Update gives you a significant amount of flexibility when it comes to system notifications. Sometimes you may want to see every notification, while other times you may want absolutely no disturbances. With Focus Assist you can set priorities and have it the way you want it, when you want it.

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Your thoughts

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About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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