I know that I do more work in less time when I avoid interruptions and distractions. I also know that I sleep better without interruptions or distractions. So, I’ve been a fan of Do Not Disturb on my iPhone and Mac since time immemorial.

Do Not Disturb Could Do Better

It’s scheduled from 9 PM to 6 AM every day, and before I start a work session, I enable it on both of my Macs, enable it again on my iPhone, and then enable it once more on my iPad. Whenever I take a break, and at the end of my workday, I reverse the process.

That’s inconvenient, but not the part I like least. You can designate one (and only one) group of contacts allowed to disturb you even when Do Not Disturb is enabled. I’ve currently got it set to Favorites, but that means it includes far too many people I’d prefer not to hear from when I’m sleeping. I know these are first-world problems, but they’ve bugged me for years.

So, while I’ve used it and accepted its shortcomings, I always thought Apple could do better. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t enable it on one device and have the other devices automatically inherit its Do Not Disturb state. And why couldn’t I have one group of contacts allowed to interrupt me during work hours and a different group when I’m asleep.

Focus is Do Not Disturb on Steroids

I’ve been using beta releases all summer, and I’m pleased to report that Do Not Disturb has been replaced by “Focus” in macOS Monterey (v12) and iOS/iPadOS 15, and does everything I ever wanted from Do Not Disturb and much more.

The first colossal improvement is that you can now create as many different “Focuses” as you like. I’ve got three at present—Work, Sleep, and Driving—with each of them configured differently. You can allow interruptions from a single group of contacts like before, but you can also add individual contacts to any Focus.

I’d have been happy if that were all we got, but there’s more! You can select one or more apps allowed to send notifications for each Focus you create, with all other notifications suppressed.

And you can set any Focus to turn on or off automatically with new Time, Location, and App-based automations, which add even more flexibility to your Focuses.

My favorite thing about Focus, though, is an option to share your Focus state across devices. So, when I enable the Work Focus on my main Mac, my other Mac and my iDevices switch to my Work Focus almost instantly. I know it’s not magic, but it feels magical to me.

There is one last thing: Do as I say, not as I do. I don’t recommend beta operating systems on a device you rely upon; I only install them on mine ‘cause it’s my job.

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davebarnes

Foci, not focuses.

Jeff Butts

Great discussion, Bob. I’ve been using both betas, as well, and I think Focus is my favorite new feature. I’m still fiddling with it, setting up new Focus modes for different aspects of my work/life. Definitely a huge improvement over Do Not Disturb.