Keep Up to Date By Using Notification Center on iPhone

Centralize alerts and widgets in one easy-to-use overview

Woman walking and checking smartphone notifications

 milindri / Getty Images

The iOS Notification Center not only keeps you up to date on what's happening in your day and on your iPhone but also lets apps send you messages when they have relevant information.

Notification Center is the place you go to find push notifications. They can be text messages, alerts about new voicemails, reminders of upcoming events, invitations to play games, or—depending on the apps you have installed—breaking news, sports scores, or discount coupon offers.

Notification Center has been around in one form or another since iOS 5, but recent versions have undergone big changes.

The information in this article applies to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices running iOS 12 or iOS 11.

Accessing the iOS Notification Center

You can access Notification Center from anywhere on your iPhone—the Home screen or from within any app—by swiping down from the top left corner of your iPhone's screen.

To hide the Notification Center, reverse the swipe gesture and swipe from the bottom of the screen to the top. You can also click the Home button (if your iPhone has one) when Notification Center is open to hide it.

Swipe directions to open and close iOS' Notification Center

Managing Notifications in Notification Center

Notifications are grouped by app, and when there is more than one notification for an app, they are stacked together. To expand a stack of notifications, tap it. When you are through reading, collapse the stack again by tapping Show less or delete the entire stack from Notification Center by tapping the X.

Manage individual notifications by swiping right to left to reveal three options:

  • Manage opens a settings screen for the app and a link to settings.
  • View opens the link, story, or related post.
  • Clear removes the notification from the Notification Center.

Swipe left to right on an app notification to open the app.

iOS Notification Center with the options highlighted

How to Choose What Appears in Notification Center

You control which alerts appear in Notification Center with your push notification settings. These are settings that you configure on an app-by-app basis and determine which apps send you alerts and specifies the style of alerts.

  1. Go to Settings and tap Notifications.

  2. Tap Show Previews at the top of the Notifications screen.

  3. Select Always, When Unlocked, or Never and tap Back at the top of the screen to return to the Notifications screen.

    Choosing Notification previews preferences in iOS
  4. Tap one of the apps in the list.

  5. Move the slider next to Allow Notifications to the On/green position.

  6. Tap the circle beneath Notification Center to check it, and notifications from the app begin appearing in the Notification Center. Optionally, you can also select Lock Screen if you want notifications to appear on your lock screen and Banner if you want them to appear at the top of the screen.

    Notifications screen for an app in iOS Settings
  7. Repeat this process for each app you want to post to Notification Center.

Widgets in iPhone Notification Center Today View

There's a second, useful screen that is part of the Notification Center. It's called the Today view, and it contains widgets

Many third-party apps and iOS-native apps support widgets—essentially mini versions of the apps that provide information and limited functionality from the app. They provide information and activity options without having to go to the app itself.

It is likely that you already have apps with widgets that are included in this screen—or that could be. To open and edit the Today view:

  1. Open the Notification Center by pulling down from the top left corner of the screen.

  2. Swipe across from left to right in any area that isn't a notification to open the Today view.

    You can also open the Today view by swiping right on the Home screen.

    Swiping on Notification Center to open Today view
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Today view and tap Edit to adjust which apps are visible.

  4. In the screen that opens is a list of all the widgets currently available on the iPhone. Tap the minus on the red button next to each widget you want to remove from the Today screen. Drag the three-line handle next to a widget to reorder the list.

  5. Scroll down to the More Widgets section, which contains widgets that are available but not activated in the Today screen. Tap the green button with a plus sign next to any widget you want to activate.

    Notification Center on iOS with the Edit and Add Widget buttons highlighted

Where to Get More Widgets

Widgets are part of apps that support them—not standalone mini-apps. If you want to download more widgets, you must download their apps. Go to the App Store and search for widgets for iPhone to bring up a list of apps with widgets. You can also search for apps you hope have widgets. If they do, that information is listed in the features of the app preview.