Time sensitive notifications.

For a long time, iPhones and iPad treated all notifications the same. You could turn them all off or do it on an app-by-app basis. Now, some notifications will be “Time Sensitive” to give you more control.

What Are “Time Sensitive” Notifications?

Enabling Focus Mode from Control Center
Focus Modes on iPhone.

“Time Sensitive” notifications are simply a special class of notifications that are given higher priority. They were introduced in iOS 15 alongside the “Focus” feature, and that’s really where they are the most useful.

Since these notifications have a higher priority, they can be allowed to break through the times when you may be blocking other notifications. They also stay on your lock screen for an hour. It’s a way of saying “I want to block notifications but I don’t want to miss anything important.”

Focus mode allows you to essentially create custom Do Not Disturb modes for specific situations. This is where Time Sensitive notifications really shine. You can indiscriminately block as many apps as you want without worrying about missing something urgent.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to decide what qualifies a notification as “Time Sensitive,” that’s up to the app developers. It’s possible that an app could abuse the feature. All you can do is decide if you want to allow an app to use Time Sensitive notifications.

RELATED: What Is Focus on iPhone and iPad, and How Is It Better Than Do Not Disturb?

How to Allow “Time Sensitive” Notifications in Focus

The area where Time Sensitive notifications come into play the most is Do Not Disturb and Focus modes. During the setup process, you’ll have the choice to allow these notifications to get through even if you’ve blocked other notifications from the app.

We have a full guide on setting up Focus modes, but we’ll show the highlights for Time Sensitive notifications here. First, launch the “Settings” app from the home screen on your iPhone or iPad.

Open the "Settings" app.

Select “Focus” to get started.

Tap "Focus."

Eventually, you’ll get to a point in the process where you can choose which apps will be allowed to show notifications.

Select "Add App."

On that same screen is the toggle for “Time Sensitive” notifications to be allowed in the Focus mode. Turn it on.

Toggle on "Time Sensitive."

Now, when the Focus mode is enabled, Time Sensitive notifications won’t be blocked. Even if you’re not allowing notifications from the app, the Time Sensitive notifications will get through.

RELATED: How to Set Up Focus on iPhone and iPad

How to Turn Off “Time Sensitive” Notifications

What if an app is marking notifications as “Time Sensitive” and you don’t agree. Or maybe an app is abusing the priority to shove annoying notifications in your face. You can turn off Time Sensitive notifications for any app.

One thing you can do is assess the Time Sensitive notifications as they arrive. Occasionally, a Time Sensitive notification will ask if you want to keep receiving them or turn them off.

Time Sensitive notification.
Reddit u/EdwardTheHuman

If you don’t feel like waiting around for that, you can turn them off manually as well. Open the “Settings” app from the home screen on your iPhone or iPad.

Open the "Settings" app.

Select “Notifications.”

Select "Notifications."

Find the app that you want to turn off Time Sensitive notifications for.

Find the app.

Toggle the switch off for “Time Sensitive Notifications.” Note that not every app will have this option.

Turn off the switch for "Time Sensitive Notifications."

That’s all there is to it. Time Sensitive notifications are great if they are used by the app properly. You may find them useful for some apps, but annoying with others. The more you fine-tune which apps can use them, the better the experience will be.

RELATED: How to View Notification Center on iPhone and iPad

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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