How to customize notification settings on Windows 11

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Notifications can be a hugely important feature on our laptops, just like they are on our smartphones. They let us know when something needs our attention, and if you get distracted easily, that can help you stay on track. However, as we install more and more apps, notifications are constantly competing for our attention, and sometimes you just want to focus. Thankfully, you can customize notification settings in a variety of ways on Windows 11, and we’re here to help.

In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at the options you have to customize notifications on Windows 11. These can help you make notifications less intrusive and allow you to focus on what’s truly important to you. With that established, let’s get right into it.

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Customize general notification settings

Let’s start with the basics of notification settings. First off, if you want to get to notification settings on Windows 11, there are two ways to do it. The quickest way is to right-click the date and time section in the corner of your taskbar, then choose Notification settings.

Alternatively, you can use the Start menu to open the Settings app, then choose Notifications in the System section (which opens by default).

Here, you’re presented with an overview of your notification settings. You can disable notifications altogether, or click the first option, Notifications, to expand a drop-down menu. This menu has some additional options, such as turning off notification sounds. You can also choose whether you want notifications to show up on the lock screen, including a specific setting for reminders and incoming calls. Below that, there’s Focus assist, the Windows equivalent of Do not disturb. We’ll look at that in a bit.


The top of the Notifications page in the Windows 11 Settings app

You can also enable or disable notifications for each app. The apps shown here are only the ones that have sent you at least one notification, so the list may not show apps you just installed. You can click each app to go into more specific settings for that app, but we’ll explore that later.

At the bottom of the page, you can also find settings for certain notifications from the Windows system itself. For example, you can turn off suggestions on how to use certain features, or whether you want to see the Windows welcome experience after installing a new feature update. This welcome experience can teach you about new features in the update, so it can be useful, but it’s not for everyone.


Screenshott of the bottom of the Notifications page in the Windows 11 Settings app. Notification settings for Windows features are highlighted with a red outline.

Focus assist

Focus assist is the Windows 11 equivalent of Do not disturb, and it can block almost all incoming notifications as long as it’s enabled. When you clock the Focus assist option in the page shown above, you can customize various settings related to that feature. For starters, you can choose to leave it off, or use the Priority or Alarm settings. Priority mode lets you choose certain notifications that can break through Focus assist, while Alarm mode only lets alarms through.

There’s also an option here to let you see notifications you missed while Focus assist was on. With this enabled, when you disable Focus assist, you’ll see a notification with a summary of everything you missed.


Screenshot of the Windows 11 Focus assist settings page

Below these options, you a section for automatic rules, which are certain situations where Focus assist will kick in automatically. There are options to enable it during a specific time of the day, along with more special rules, such as when you’re duplicating your display or while running a full-screen app. These can be useful so you don’t get awkward notifications while you’re presenting your screen, or if you don’t want to get interrupted while playing a game. Oddly enough, there’s also a rule to disable notifications for the first hour after installing a feature update, and it’s enabled by default.

If you click any of these rules, you can choose whether you want Focus assist to turn on in Priority mode or Alarm mode, and you can also choose whether you want to be notified when Focus assist is enabled automatically.

Screenshot of the Windows 11 Settings app displaying the configuration page for the automatic rule that enables focus assist when duplicating the display.

Customizing your priority list

As mentioned above, one of the options Focus assist offers is called Priority, and this allows select apps to still send notifications if you consider them important. If you click Customize priority list, you can choose to allow VoIP calls to come through, as well as reminders. Then, of course, you can choose specific apps you want to add to your priority list, so notifications from those apps are always shown. A few apps are added by default, but you can remove them or add some others.

Screenshot of the Focus assist priority list settings in the Windows 11 Setttings app

There’s also a section on this page to allow notifications from certain people to break through. This is based on the People app, however, which is basically unusable nowadays, and it only includes Outlook contacts. It doesn’t even work with Microsoft Teams contacts, despite the app being built into Windows 11.

Customize per-app notification settings in Windows 11

Finally, let’s talk about notification settings for individual apps. As we mentioned above, the notifications settings page (Settings -> System -> Notifications) lets you turn notifications on or off for each app. However, you can also click an app’s name to see more detailed notification settings for that app.

For example. let’s go with Microsoft Teams, since it’s built into Windows 11. When you open the notification settings for that app, you see a few options. First off, you can choose whether you want notification banners to show up – those are the little pop-ups that show up on the bottom right corner of your screen. You can also choose whether you want those notifications to be visible in the notification center, which you can open by clicking the date and time on your taskbar (or by pressing the Windows key and N on your keyboard).

Notification settings for the Microsoft Teams app on Windows 11

Other options let you hide notification contents on the lock screen, so people can’t see your notifications without entering your password or PIN. You can also turn off notification sounds and choose the priority level of notifications from that app. A higher priority means notifications will be shown at the top of the notification center, and if you receive multiple high-priority notifications, you can also see up to three of them pop up on screen at once, as opposed to just one for normal notifications.

Notification settings in Windows 11 version 22H2

So far, we’ve talked about the notification settings in the original release of Windows 11, but you may already be running Windows 11 version 22H2. This is the first feature update to Windows 11, and it comes with a few important changes to notification settings. In this version, if you go to the notification settings page (Settings  -> System -> Notifications), things look a bit different, but most of the functionality is the same.

For starters, Focus assist has been renamed to Do not disturb, so it aligns with what you probably already know from other platforms. It’s been simplified, too, so it’s either on or off, and you can no longer choose between Priority or Alarms mode. Plus, all the Do not disturb settings are now directly available in the notifications page, without taking you to a separate page entirely.

Sreenshot of notification settings in Windows 11 version 22H2

It’s also worth noting that the page where you customize the priority list has been updated with a new design, and it removes the useless People section we mentioned above.


Priority list settings in Windows 11 version 22H2

Focus

Something new you will notice in the new Notifications page is the Focus option. This is where you can choose options related to focus sessions, a feature that was introduced with Windows 11 as part of the Clock app. In this page, you can start a focus session, choose how long it will last, and hide taskbar notification badges and flashing (when an app on the taskbar turns orange to get your attention).

Focus settings in Windows 11 version 22H2

When you start a focus session, it will enable the settings you choose on this page. You can learn more about the Clock app with focus sessions in our deep dive if you’re interested in that.


And that’s all you need to know about how to customize notification settings on your Windows 11 PC. If you’re keen on learning more about Windows 11, we have a few other guides for you. We have an general guide on how to use Windows 11 as a whole, which is a great starting point for new users.



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