How to Turn Off Push Notifications on iPads and iPhones

Do you know which one to pick?
Do you know which one to pick?

What Are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are alerts from specific apps that relate to some kind of new information. For instance, if you get a new email, your iPad or iPhone can be set to automatically notify you when that happens. If you get a new friend request on Facebook, the Facebook app can be configured to send you a push notification to let you know. This will happen regardless of whether you are using the app or not.

Push notifications were designed to notify you of something you may not otherwise see unless you opened the app and discovered it for yourself. However, not all push notifications are welcome. Some exist purely to try to encourage you to go back and play a certain game, or to use an app you may have long since forgotten about. These are the notifications you want to turn off, and you can do this on an app-by-app basis.

What Do The Notifications Look Like?

Essentially, there are three types of push notifications that you might see. Some are more invasive than others, but Apple gives you the option to choose which ones you want, as well as the option to turn off push notifications altogether. The three main types are:

  1. Badge icons: These are the least intrusive push notification, but for some people they are the most annoying. They appear as a number in a red circle on the top right-hand corner of the app icon. The number signifies how many notifications are awaiting your attention.
  2. Banners: The banner alerts appear at the top of your screen. They will remain on screen for a few seconds, but will go away automatically. You can also dismiss them manually by swiping them upwards with one finger.
  3. Alerts: These are the most obvious of the three because they appear in the middle of your screen, and will interrupt whatever you are currently doing on your device at that time.

Another type of notification you may encounter is actually a sound. For instance, if you set an alarm or a timer, a sound may be played to notify you when it is finished. Sounds are often combined with Alerts, but not always.

Not all push notifications are important
Not all push notifications are important

How to Disable Push Notifications

To disable push notifications on your iPad or iPhone, open your Settings app, and tap Notification Center on the left hand side of your screen. Then scroll down until you see a list of your apps. To disable notifications, you need to do so on an app by app basis, but this makes sense, because you may not want to disable all alerts.

Find the app you want to turn off notifications for, and tap it. Remember the types of notifications we talked about above? This is where they live. So, choose the type you want, or tap None to turn them off. If you want to get rid of the red number on the corner of the app, slide the switch next to Badge App Icon to off. You can also change the Alert Sound to None in order to disable sounds.

How to disable push notifications on iOS devices
How to disable push notifications on iOS devices

More Options for Disabling Push Notifications

If you want to go even further with your customization of notifications, scroll down some more and you can decide whether or not the notifications appear in the Notification Center. You can also opt to hide them from your lock screen, disable notification previews, or just show alerts from your contacts.

More options for dealing with app notifications
More options for dealing with app notifications

How to Silence Push Notifications

So, you have picked the apps that you want to send you notifications, and the ones that you want to stay quiet, but there remain times when we just don't want to be distracted by any notifications, good or bad. For times like these, Apple introduced the Do Not Disturb feature. Once enabled, you will immediately silence all phone calls, alerts and notifications. If you are in a meeting, or at an important event, there will be no more buzzes or beeps from your iOS device when Do Not Disturb is turned on.

How do you enable it? There are two ways to turn on Do Not Disturb. The first is to go to the Settings app, and tap Do Not Disturb on the left hand menu. Flip the switch next to the word "Manual" to turn it on and you should see a crescent moon icon appear in the top right-hand corner of your device next to the battery indicator. There are other settings here, like the ability to schedule when Do Not Disturb is enabled, or the option to still allow calls from certain people.

The other way to enable Do Not Disturb is from the Control Center. To open the Control Center, swipe up from the bottom bezel on your device. Look for the same half moon symbol we mentioned before, and tap it to enable Do Not Disturb.

Enable Do Not Disturb from the Control Center
Enable Do Not Disturb from the Control Center

Final Thoughts

Every time you download a new app, and launch it for the first time, you will likely get that familiar pop-up asking you if you want to receive push notifications or not. This is your chance to take some control over your notifications, so take a minute to think about it. Don't just turn off push notifications every time, because there may be some that you do actually want.

Is it a genuinely useful app that will make your life richer by notifying you of important information as soon as it is available? If so, tap OK to enable push notifications. If not, or you are just unsure, tap Don't Allow, safe in the knowledge that you know where to go to enable notifications if you decide that you want them later.

© 2014 Jonathan Wylie

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