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How to Turn off Push Notifications on iPads and iPhones

Jonathan Wylie is a digital learning consultant who has a passion for helping others get the best out of their technology.

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. They were designed to notify you of something you may not otherwise see unless you opened the app and discovered it for yourself. 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 send you a notice to let you know.

However, not all push notifications are welcome. These alerts happen automatically, can appear on top of other apps, and will often happen at inconvenient times. Some exist purely to try and sell you something, to encourage you to go back and play a certain game, or to use an app you may have long since forgotten about.

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 badge number shows how many unread notifications you have for a given app.
  2. Banners: The banner alerts appear as a rectangle 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.

How to Disable Push Notifications

  1. Open your Settings app.
  2. Tap Notifications on the left-hand side of your screen.
  3. Swipe up until you see a list of your apps.
  4. 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 Badges to off. You can also change the Sounds to None in order to disable sounds.

Notifications have to be disabled on an app by app basis. There is no way to turn of notifications on all apps at once, but this makes sense because you will likely not want to disable all alerts...just the annoying ones!


Managing Notifications in iOS 12

In iOS 12, Apple added new functionality that lets you make quick changes to notifications directly from the lock screen or from your Notification Center, which you can access at any time by swiping down from the top of your screen. Now when you see a notification in one of these places, you can swipe to the left on that notification and choose Manage to change its behavior. From here, you have two options.

  1. Deliver Quietly. Selecting this option means that notifications will no longer interrupt you with sounds, banners or even a badge icon. They go straight to your Notification Center where you can check them when you need them.
  2. Turn Off. Selecting this option will turn off all notifications from this app or service and save you searching for it in the Settings app.

Silence Notifications on iPhone and iPad

More Options for Disabling Push Notifications

If you want to go even further with your customization of notifications, scroll down some more where you will find options like Show Previews. Tap that and you can choose from Always, When Unlocked, or Never. The default setting is When Unlocked, which is is particularly useful for home screen notifications on a device that has Face ID. When enabled, you will see the first few lines of an email or iMessage when you look at your phone. When other people look at your phone, Face ID will not recognize them, so they won't see message previews.

The last option in Notifications is Notification Grouping. This feature was introduced in iOS 12 and lets you choose how you want your notifications to be grouped together on the home screen or in the Notification Center. You can group automatically, (let your iPhone or iPad decide how to group them), by app, or turn off grouping altogether to see all notifications as individual notifications.


Silence Notifications With Do Not Disturb

So, you have picked the apps that you want to send you notifications, as well as the ones that you want to stay quiet. However, there are still times when you don't want to be interrupted by any notifications, good or bad. For times like these, Apple introduced the Do Not Disturb feature. Once enabled, you can silence all phone calls, alerts and notifications. This means that 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? One way is to go to the Settings app, and tap Do Not Disturb on the left hand menu. Flip the switch next to the word "Do Not Disturb" to turn it on. While you are here, you can also turn on Do Not Disturb on a schedule, which many people do during overnight hours when they are in bed.

You can also turn on Do Not Disturb from the Control Panel when you tap on the icon that is shaped like the moon. If you are using iOS 12 or later, you can press and hold on the Do Not Disturb icon in Control Center to silence notifications for one hour, until this evening, or until the end of the event that is on your calendar.

More Options for Do Not Disturb in iOS 12

Another useful option, particularly for teens, is the ability to turn on Do Not Disturb while Driving. This is a handy feature that was included in iOS 12. When this is on, your iPhone uses its accelerometer to automatically detects when you are moving at the speed of a car and it turns on Do Not Disturb for you. It can even send a text message to people who try to contact you, letting them know that you are driving and that you will read their message when you get to your destination. You can turn it on by going to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Do Not Disturb While Driving > Activate.

You can also set custom Do Not Disturb times for bedtime. When enabled, Do Not Disturb will automatically turn on at the time you like to go to bed, and turn off when you like to wake up. It will also dim your screen so that your phone will not light up in the middle of the night when notifications arrive, and send all notifications to the Notifications Center until you wake up. That way, you won't be tempted to pick up your phone in the middle of the night and see what's on the lock screen. You can schedule Do Not Disturb times for bedtime by going to Settings > Do Not Disturb, and turning on the Scheduled and Bedtime switches.

Are Your iPhone Notifications Out Of Control?

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 can always go back to Settings > Notifications and enable them at a later date if needed.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Jonathan Wylie


OptOut on December 23, 2017:

This is not a push notification. This is just notifications. Push notifications use your cellular data to show you emails as they come in or to update your game data as you are using it. Again, what this is telling you is only what notifications are.

Melissa Carroll on September 21, 2017:

My friend is receiving my push notifications on my Facebook and we're not on each others Facebook but I would like him to stop recieving mine but we're on the same phone account and phone plan