How to manage Windows notifications

How to manage Windows notifications

In the fast-paced digital world we live in, staying informed is crucial. Windows notifications play a pivotal role in keeping us up-to-date with emails, messages, calendar events, and more. However, the constant influx of notifications can become overwhelming if not managed effectively. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to efficiently manage Windows notifications, ensuring that you stay informed without feeling inundated.

Most people are used to managing notifications on their smartphones, but Windows can also generate a lot of pings and alerts. Some of these will be useful and necessary, but regular interruptions can be frustrating and get in the way if you’re trying to get work done. Therefore, it is worth exploring the notification management options that the Windows operating system offers.

How to manage Windows notifications

Accessing Notification Settings

To begin managing your notifications, access the notification settings. Right-click on the Windows taskbar and select “News and interests” or “Taskbar settings,” depending on your Windows version. From there, click on “Notification settings.”

Focus Assist Settings

Windows offers a feature called Focus Assist that allows you to control which notifications are allowed to interrupt you. Open “Focus Assist settings” from the notification settings window. You can choose between three modes: Off (allow all notifications), Priority Only (allow only selected notifications), and Alarms Only (allow only alarms).

App Notifications

Like Android, iOS, and macOS, Windows allows you to manage notification permissions on a per-app basis. You can set a hierarchy of applications that can send notifications at any time and applications that are not.

By default, notifications appear briefly on the screen and are also delivered to the Notification Center. They can be accessed by clicking on the time and date in the lower right corner of the screen. To change this behavior, follow these steps:

Windows 11 App Notifications
Windows Notifications
  • Open Settings from the Start menu, then choose System > Notifications.
  • The Notifications toggle switch allows you to enable or disable all notifications in Windows. Click the down arrow next to the toggle switch to see checkboxes to enable or disable notification sounds and notifications on the lock screen, and (if you have enabled this feature) to display incoming VoIP calls on the lock screen.
  • Notifications can be enabled or disabled system wide.
  • Scroll down to find the list of apps. To turn off notifications for a specific app, use the toggle switch next to it.
Windows App Notifications layout
Windows Notifications
  • If you want granular control over notifications for a particular app, rather than turning it on or off, you can tap on the app’s name to open a panel of additional options.
  • Clear the Show notification banners check box to prevent notifications from appearing on the screen as they arrive. They will still silently be delivered to the Notification Center unless you uncheck Show notifications in the Notification Center.
  • If you don’t want to receive notifications from the app, disable it.
apps notification
Windows Notifications
  • Select the Allow an app to send important notifications when Do Not Disturb is enabled check box to allow the app to override any Do Not Disturb settings you have set.
  • Select Top, High, or Normal to change the priority of this app’s notifications in the Action Center, making it easier to find important notifications.

You can customize the features of specific apps, such as where app notifications appear. Windows notification settings can also be changed when they appear: by tapping the three dots on a notification when it appears on the screen or in the Action Center, you can turn off all notifications from this application.

Do Not Disturb Modes and Windows Focus

Windows has a Do Not Disturb mode that allows you to turn off all but the most important notifications, and a Focus feature that allows you to set blocks of time when you need to focus without being distracted by other things.

Both features can be seen in the Notification Center: Do Not Disturb is a small bell icon in the upper right corner (tap it to enable Do Not Disturb with current settings) and Focus is at the bottom (tap Focus to start a session).

Setting Do Not Disturb Mode

To set up Do Not Disturb, follow these steps:

  • Do not disturb mode can be set to turn on at a specific time. Open Settings from the Start menu, then select System > Notifications.
  • Turn on the Do Not Disturb function using the toggle switch: this will send all alerts to the Notification Center, and nothing will make sounds or appear on the screen.
  • Click Enable automatic Do Not Disturb mode to enable this mode at certain times, such as when a game is running or a second display is connected.
  • You can also enter a specific time period (for example, 9 am to 5 pm), which will then repeat daily, on weekends, or on weekdays.
Windows Notifications
  • You can set certain apps to override Do Not Disturb mode. Click the Set Notification Priority button to allow certain apps to ignore Do Not Disturb and warn you anyway—for example, if you have a messaging app that you want to run all the time.

Setting the Focus function

The Focus feature can be thought of as an improved version of the Do Not Disturb feature designed to improve productivity. While focusing, Do Not Disturb is enabled and application icons on the taskbar do not flash or display icons, further reducing distractions.

Another difference between Focus and Do Not Disturb is the appearance of a timer on the screen that shows how much time is left until the end of the session. You can start focusing by pressing the Focus button in the Action Center or by opening Settings and then selecting System > Focus > Start focusing session.

Windows Notifications focus
Windows Notifications

Focus sessions can be launched from the Clock app. On the System > Focus page in Settings, you can change the Focus mode:

  • Use the symbols – (minus) or + (plus) to change the duration of the next session (options are from five to 240 minutes). If the duration of the session exceeds 30 minutes, breaks will be automatically assigned.
  • The checkboxes below it allow you to customize how Focus works: for example, if you don’t need a screen timer or don’t want to turn on Do Not Disturb, you can turn these features on or off as you like.
  • You can also launch Focus from the Windows Clock app on the Focus tab. Here you can learn a little more: skip breaks, track tasks completed while in focus, and specify a Spotify playlist to use while working in Focus mode.

Whether you’re using individual app notification settings, Do Not Disturb mode, Focus mode, or a combination of the three, you’ll find a notification mode that’s right for you, which can change throughout the day depending on how you use your Windows PC.


Managing Windows notifications empowers you to stay informed while maintaining your productivity and focus. By customizing notification settings, prioritizing apps, and utilizing features like Focus Assist, you can strike a balance between staying connected and avoiding distraction. Remember that the key is to tailor notifications to your needs, ensuring that you receive essential information without feeling overwhelmed. With these steps in mind, you’ll master the art of managing Windows notifications effectively in today’s dynamic digital landscape.


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