iOS 17 introduced a powerful new feature called iOS 17 Focus filters that gives you granular control over the content you see from apps when a certain Focus is enabled. Use iOS 17 Focus Filters allow you to customize your device experience so you only see the content that’s relevant to your current activity or situation.
In this guide, we’ll walk through how to set up and use Focus filters on iPhone and iPad running iOS 17. We’ll cover:
- What Focus filters are and how they work
- How to add Focus filters for apps
- Filter options for core iOS apps like Mail, Calendar, and Messages
- Customizing your Home Screen for a Focus
- Managing Focus filter settings
- FAQs and tips for using Focus filters effectively
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What Are Focus Filters and How Do They Work?
Focus modes have been around since iOS 15, allowing you to select a customized mode like Work, Sleep, Fitness, Gaming, etc. When you turn on a Focus, it shows only the apps and notifications you want for that situation.
Focus filters take things a step further by letting you specify content within apps that should be shown or hidden for a particular Focus. For example, you could set up your Work Focus to only show work-related emails and calendar events, and hide personal content.
When a Focus with filters is enabled, compatible apps will show a banner saying “Limiting Content for Focus” with an option to show all content. This allows you to access full app content if needed without turning off your Focus.
Focus filters give you much more granular control to reduce distractions, stay on task, and only see info that’s timely and relevant to what you’re currently doing on your device.
How to Add Focus Filters for Apps
Adding Focus filters is easy and can be done right from the Focus settings. Here are the steps:
- Go to Settings > Focus and tap the Focus you want to add filters to.
- Scroll down and tap Add Filter under the Focus Filters section.
- Tap the app you want to add a filter for from the list.
- Select the types of content from that app you want to show or hide when the Focus is enabled.
For example, for Mail you can choose to only show certain accounts, VIPs, flagged emails, etc.
- Tap Add in the upper right to add the filter.
- Repeat steps 3-5 to keep adding filters for additional apps.
The apps will now apply those filters automatically when you turn that Focus on. You can add filters for both first-party apps like Mail and Calendar as well as third-party apps that support Focus filters.
Focus Filter Options for Key iOS Apps
Some of the most powerful Focus filters are for Apple’s own apps. Here are some of the filtering options available for key system apps:
- Only show VIP contacts
- Only show flagged emails
- Only show emails from certain accounts
- Only show emails addressed directly to you
- Always show emails from certain people
- Hide read emails
- Only show events on certain calendars (work, family, etc)
- Only show all-day events or events at certain locations
- Hide declined events
- Only show certain people or groups
- Always show messages from certain people
- Hide read conversations
- Limit web pages to only work-related or personally-bookmarked sites
- Block access to websites not on your allowed sites list
- Show favorites, videos, selfies, etc.
- Block access completely to the Photos app
- Only show commute routes and work/home locations
- Block access completely
The options above allow you to precisely control the information you have access to within apps when a particular Focus is turned on.
Customizing Your Home Screen for a Focus
Along with filters, you can also customize your Home Screen to only show apps relevant for a certain Focus. Here’s how:
- After setting up your Focus, go to the Focus settings and tap Home Screen
- Tap Custom Pages to create a special Home Screen for this Focus.
- Add widgets and app icons you want available when the Focus is enabled. Tap – or + to remove or add additional pages.
- Organize the pages how you want them.
- Make sure to toggle on Only Show Pages For [Focus] at the top.
Now when your Focus is activated, you’ll only see that custom Home Screen containing your selected apps and widgets. Your other Home Screen pages will be temporarily hidden until you turn the Focus off.
Managing Focus Filter Settings
You can change Focus filters or filter options anytime by going back into Settings > Focus > [Your Focus] > Focus Filters.
From this screen you can:
- Tap a filter to modify which content it shows/hides for that app.
- Reorder filters using the handle on the right. Filters are applied in top-down order.
- Tap the – icon to delete a filter.
- Tap Add Filter to add filters for additional apps.
- Tap the Back arrow < at the top left to return to the Focus details screen, where you can edit the Focus name, icon, allowed notifications, etc.
Take some time to carefully set up your Focus filters so they display only the content that’s most relevant and helpful for those situations.
FAQs and Tips for Using Focus Filters
Here are some common questions and tips for using Focus filters effectively:
Can I use Focus filters on iPhone and iPad?
Yes, Focus filters work on all devices running iOS 17 or iPadOS 17.
Do apps need to be updated to support filters?
Most first-party Apple apps have built-in support for filters. Third-party apps need to integrate with the Focus API in iOS 17 to enable filter capabilities.
What’s the difference from just allowing notifications from certain apps?
Focus filters give you more granular control to hide content within app. Just allowing notifications will still show all of an app’s content when opened.
How do I quickly access full app content if needed?
When a filter is active, tap the banner at the top of the app screen to temporarily show all content.
Can I use Focus filters on Macs or Apple Watch?
Focus filters currently only work on iPhone and iPad. Focus modes themselves sync across Apple devices using iCloud.
How do filters affect notifications?
You set allowed notifications separately in Focus Settings. Filters only affect content within apps.
What’s the best way to manage work/personal filters?
Use separate Work and Personal Focuses. In your Work Focus, add filters to only show work-related content. In your Personal Focus, only show personal content. Quickly switch between the two Focuses as needed.
Can I turn filters off for certain apps?
Yes, toggle off the filter in Settings or tap “Show All Content” when the filter is active to temporarily disable it.
Focus filters give you unparalleled control over your iOS experience. Configure them carefully for each Focus to reduce distractions, stay on task, and focus on the information that matters most to you in the moment. With some planning, you can craft an ideal environment customized for your varying needs and activities.
- Focus filters allow granular control over content within apps for specific Focuses
- Add filters in Settings by selecting apps and content types to show/hide
- Tailor filters for Mail, Calendar, Messages and other apps
- Customize a special Home Screen page for each Focus
- Manage filters anytime in Settings > Focus > [Your Focus]
- Enable “Show All Content” to temporarily override a filter
- Fine-tune filters to optimize your iOS experience
Carefully chosen Focus filters can go a long way in minimizing distractions, improving productivity, and enhancing your enjoyment of iOS devices. Take the time to set up filters thoughtfully for the way you work and live. Soon enough, Focus modes and filters will become an indispensable aspect of your daily digital life.