How to temporarily stop Windows 10 notifications with Focus Assist (Quiet Hours)

Focus Assist (formerly known as Quiet hours) is a feature that helps block notifications during specific time intervals, during presentations or while playing games on your Windows 10 PC or device. If you configure it and turn it on, you can enjoy some peace, away from notifications that interrupt you and distract you from what is important. Here is how to use and how to configure Focus Assist, in Windows 10:

What is Focus Assist in Windows 10?

Focus Assist is a Windows 10 feature that helps you choose which notifications you want to see and hear, and when, so that you can stay focused on what is important. It is an improved version of Quiet Hours, which existed in Windows 10 until Fall Creators Update. In Windows 10 April 2018 Update, Quiet Hours was massively improved and renamed to Focus Assist.

This feature can have three working states:

  • Off - it is disabled and does not do anything
  • Priority only - it displays only selected notifications, using a priority list that is personalized by the user. The other notifications are hidden away in the Action Center.
  • Alarms only - it hides all Windows 10 notifications, except for alarms.

Focus Assist can be automatically turned on during specific time intervals, or during activities like making presentations or gaming, based on a set of rules created by the user. It can also be manually turned on, whenever you consider it necessary.

NOTE: If you do not know which version of Windows 10 you have, read this article: What version, edition, and type of Windows 10 do I have installed?

Where do you configure Focus Assist (Quiet Hours) in Windows 10?

Focus Assist can be configured only from the Settings app. Open Settings and then go to System, followed by Focus Assist. You see all the settings of this feature, on the right side of the screen.

How to personalize the priority list for Focus Assist

If you want to set the priority list, click or tap the link that says "Customize your priority list" beneath Priority only. There is no need to check the "Priority only" box, because it will turn on Focus assist, right now. A long list is open, containing all kinds of settings for the priority list.

First, you have some priority rules regarding calls, texts, and reminders. This is of interest only if you have linked your smartphone with your Windows 10 PC. If you did, check the kinds of notifications that you want to see, and uncheck the ones you do not:

  • Show incoming VoIP calls and calls from a linked phone (this applies to calls through Skype too)
  • Show incoming text from a linked phone
  • Show reminders, regardless of app used

Then, scroll down to People, and you can set whether you want to see notifications from certain people in your contact list. If you do not want to see notifications from the contacts you pinned to the taskbar, uncheck the setting that says: "Show notifications from pinned contacts on taskbar."

If you do want to see notifications from a few important people, click or tap "Add contacts" and choose those people from your contacts.

NOTE: If you have added people to this list and you want to remove them, click on their name in the People section, and then press Remove.

Scroll further down, and you see the apps that can show notifications while Focus Assist is turned on, and using the Priority list. By default, you see only the Xbox app and the Xbox gaming overlay (meaning the Game Bar). You can remove them if you want, by selecting them and pressing Remove.

If you want to see notifications from another app, click or tap "Add an app" and choose the app from the list that is shown.

Unfortunately, you cannot choose apps that are not shown on this list. When you are done setting the priority list for Focus Assist, press the Back arrow on the top-left corner and then set the automatic rules.

How to set the automatic rules for Focus Assist

It is a good idea to set the automatic rules for enabling Focus Assist. First, you can set it to to be turned on automatically during certain times, each day. Enable the switch for "During these times," and then click on the text near the switch.

Choose the start time and the end time when you want to use Focus Assist. Then, set how often you want to repeat turning on Focus Assist: daily, on weekends or weekdays. Also, choose the focus level: Priority only or Alarms only. You can also set it to show a notification in the Action Center when it is turned on automatically so that you are informed.

Click or tap the Back arrow in the top-left corner. Then, set the switch for "When i'm duplicating my display" to On or Off, depending on what you want. If you are working on a laptop or a tablet, turning on Focus Assist in this situation might be a good idea, because duplicating your display means that you are likely to deliver a presentation, and you should not be interrupted by notifications. If this is the case for you, click or tap "When i'm duplicating my display" and choose how Focus Assist should work: the focus level that is applied, and whether to show a notification in the action center when it is turned on automatically.

Click or tap the Back arrow in the top-left corner. If you are a gamer, set the switch for "Playing a game full screen" to On and then click or tap on the text near this switch. Choose the focus level that is used, and whether to show a notification in the action center when Focus Assist has turned on automatically because you are playing games.

IMPORTANT: Please remember that this setting applies only to DirectX games, not OpenGL games.

How to automatically turn on Focus Assist, when you are at home

If you are using a laptop or tablet with Windows 10, and with a GPS chip, Focus Assist offers one more type of automatic rules, named "When I'm at home." This rule is not available on desktop computers, and other devices without location capabilities.

Click or tap "When I'm at home", if you see it.

When, you can set Windows 10 to recognize when you are at home, based on your location. Set this switch to On, if you want this feature enabled. Then, choose the focus level you want to use, and whether you want to show a notification in the Action Center, when Focus Assist is turned on automatically.

Click or tap the Back arrow in the top-left corner and you are done configuring Focus Assist, and its automatic functioning.

How to manually start or stop Focus Assist (Quiet Hours) in Windows 10

If you have set up the rules for Focus Assist, they are automatically applied by Windows 10, and this feature is turned on when you want, how you want. But, there are times when you may want to turn it on manually, and then disable it when you no longer needed it on.

If you want to turn on the Focus Assist, the fastest way to do it is to use the Action Center. Click or tap on its icon from the right end of the taskbar.

At the bottom of the Action Center, you see the Quick Actions. If you see only one row of them, click or tap Expand.

Among the Quick actions, you'll find Focus Assist. To turn it On, click or tap on its button.

Focus Assist is turned on, using the Priority only mode.

Click or tap the same button one more time, and Focus Assist uses the Alarms only mode.

Click it one more time, and Focus Assist is disabled.

Another way to start or stop Focus Assist is to right click (or tap and hold) on the Action Center icon from the far right of the taskbar. In the menu that is shown, choose "Focus assist" and the mode that you want: Off, Priority only or Alarms only.

Another way to manually start Focus Assist is to go to the Settings app. Choose System, followed by Focus Assist. On the right side of the screen, choose Off, Priority only or Alarms only, depending on what you want.

Do you like the new Focus Assist?

Quiet hours had little usefulness, and we are pleased to see that it has been enhanced in Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Configure the Focus Assist, see how it works and comment below. Is it working well for you? What would you like Microsoft to further improve about it? Share your thoughts with us, and let's discuss.