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This Windows 11 Feature Helps Reduce Distractions and Keep You Focused

Control what you see on your PC and become more productive with this overlooked Windows setting.

Windows 11 update on a laptop
Make it easier to focus on what's important.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Notifications are usually not good for your productivity. Even a single notification, which appears for only about a second or two on your computer screen, can be enough to throw you off your focus. Of course, you can easily mute all of your notifications to prevent this from happening, but that's not always ideal, especially when you need certain notifications to keep you up to date with important information.

Focus Assist, known as Quiet Hours in previous Windows versions, can get rid of distracting notifications on your Windows 11 computer. All you need to do is enable the feature and then choose which notifications you want to hide and receive. The hidden notifications will live in your notification center, where you can check them out whenever you're finished with your tasks.

If you want to better focus on what you're doing on your Windows computer, here's how to set up Focus Assist. And if you're interested in other useful Windows 11 features, check out how to free up disk space when you're low on storage and how to take a screenshot on Windows 11.

How to turn on Focus Assist on Windows 11

On your computer running Windows 11, use the search feature to open the Settings application, go into System and then click on Focus assist. You then have three options, to either disable or enable the feature:

  • Off: Show all notifications.
  • Priority only: Hide all notifications, except from apps in your priority list, which you can customize.
  • Alarms only: Hide all notifications, except for alarms.
Focus assist settings on Windows 11

Focus Assist has a couple of options to choose from: Priority only and Alarms only.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Underneath those three settings, you can check the box next to Show a summary of what I missed when focus assist was on to receive a notification to view all your hidden notifications when you exit from Focus Assist.

Create a priority list to show only certain notifications

If you're going to use the Priority only focus level, you can choose which applications you want to still receive notifications from, even if Focus Assist is enabled. To do this, click on Customize priority list underneath Priority only. You'll see the following options:

  • Calls, texts, and reminders: Under this option, you can either show or hide notifications for incoming calls, text messages and reminders.
  • People: If you want to receive notifications from certain contacts in apps such as Mail, Calling and Messaging, you can add them here.
  • Apps: You can enable specific apps to bypass Focus Assist so you receive notifications from them.
Priority lists for Focus Assist

Click on Add an app to receive notifications from that app while Focus Assist is on.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

To delete an application from the list, click on it and then hit Remove.

Set up automatic rules for Focus Assist so you never have to turn it on yourself

Focus Assist must be turned on manually, but there is a way to automatically enable the feature. Underneath Automatic rules, you have the following settings:

  • During these times: Automatically turns on Focus Assist during a certain time frame, which you can choose.
  • When I'm duplicating my display: Automatically turns on Focus Assist when you connect to a second monitor.
  • When I'm playing a game: Automatically turns on Focus Assist when you're playing a game.
  • When I'm using an app in full-screen mode only: Automatically turns on Focus Assist when you use an app in full screen mode.
  • For the first hour after a Windows feature update: Automatically turns on Focus Assist right after an update.
Automatic rules for Focus Assist

Instead of manually turning on Focus Assist, you can have it be automatic.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

For all of these features, you can choose a different focus level than what it shows (priority or alarms). Just click on the setting and change it.