How to Use Focus Assist In Windows 10

Get your work done without distractions

Woman using Windows 10 focus assist on a Microsoft Surface Book
Windows 10's focus assist can help manage your app notifactions and alarms.


Focus Assist is a primary setting on Windows 10 computers and tablets that lets users control the frequency and type of system notifications they receive. Focus Assist can be turned on and off relatively quickly and there are three main options from which to choose.

  • Off: This disables Focus Assist completely and enables all notifications.
  • Priority only: Enables notifications from a customizable list of contacts.
  • Alarms only: Disables all notifications except for those associated with alarms.

How to Turn Focus Assist On or Off in Windows 10

  1. Open the Action Center by clicking on the square icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen. If you're using a Windows 10 device with a touchscreen, you can also open the Action Center by swiping your finger quickly from the right edge of the screen to the center.
  2. Click or tap on the Focus assist box to cycle through Off, On: Priority only, and On: Alarms only.
Windows 10 Focus Assist from Action Center
Toggle Focus Assist settinsg from Windows 10's Action Center.

How to Change Focus Assist's Settings

  1. Open Windows 10's Action Center by clicking on the bottom-right icon or by swiping in from the right side of the screen on a touch device
  2. Find the Focus assist box within Action Center and right-click on it with your mouse. Alternatively, you can also perform a long-press on it with you finger if using a touchscreen device like a Surface Pro.
  3. A new link for Go to Settings will appear. Click on it.
Windows 10 Action Center and Settings
Open Focus Assist settings by right-clicking on the icon in Action Center or by pressing on it with your finger.

The Settings app will now open and will automatically take you to the options for Focus Assist. The top three options for Off, Priority only, and Alarms only are the same options you cycle through by clicking on the Focus Assist button within Action Center. You can choose to switch between each mode either on this screen or via Action Center. The five settings under Automatic rules can only be changed on this screen however and are used to customize your Focus Assist experience. Here's what each of them means.

  • During these times: Click on this option to enable Focus Assist at a set time for every day of the week, every work day, or for only on weekends. For example, you can have Focus Assist automatically turn on between 9am and 5pm every work day. You will also be allowed to specify Priority only or Alarm only.
  • When I'm duplicating my display: This option allows you to choose what happens with your notifications when you're projecting your Windows 10 device's display to another screen either by cable or a wireless connection. If you turn this off, then your Focus Assist settings when projecting will be the same as your regular settings. If you turn it on though, you can make it act differently. For example, you could turn this setting on and make it so only alarm notifications will display when projecting to another screen. This can be useful for when watching a movie and you don't want to be interrupted by app notifications.
  • When I'm playing a game: Similar to the above setting, this one creates a separate preference for how you want Focus Assist to act on your Windows 10 device when playing a video game. Turn this setting off to have Focus Assist act the same way as usual or turn it on to choose what sort of notifications, if any, you want to interrupt your gaming. ¬†
  • When I'm at home: This setting uses your Windows 10 device's GPS and internet connection to detect where you are so it can automatically change your Focus Assist settings. This can be useful if you take your computer to work and wish to receive notifications when in the office but don't want to get anything when you're at home and feel like relaxing. Turn this setting on to choose what level of notifications you do or don't want to receive at home. Click on Change my home address to manually enter your address if you haven't already.

What Does Priority Only Mean?

With Priority only enabled, all notifications will be hidden except for those involving contacts on your priority list. From the main Focus assist settings page, you can add contacts from the Windows 10 People app to your priority list by clicking on the Customize your priority list link.

What Does Alarms Only Mean?

Enabling Alarms only will disable all notifications except for those that activate when an alarm goes off. Alarms can be created from within the Windows 10 Alarms & Clock app.

What Happened to Quiet Hours in Windows 10?

Quiet Hours was replaced with Focus Assist in April 2018. Focus Assist is essentially the same as Quiet Hours but has more customizable options.

Does Windows 10 Have a Do Not Disturb Setting?

If you're a user of Apple device such as the iPhone, you may be trying to find the Do Not Disturb option in Windows 10. Focus Assist is basically the same as Do Not Disturb but simply uses a different name to help differentiate Microsoft's products and services from Apple's.