iOS 12: How to customize grouped notifications

Still want your app notifications to come in one at a time? iOS 12 lets you revisit the old days.

Grouped Notifications in iOS 12

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If you ever ask an Android user what they dislike most about iOS, Apple’s notification system almost always enters the discussion. Before iOS 12, we’d get individual notifications for every little thing, while for years Android decluttered its home screens by smartly grouping notifications.

With iOS 12, Apple finally gets its own version of grouped notifications. Even better, you can customize which apps have grouped notifications and which don’t. After all, some apps benefit more from individual notifications than others. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Press Notifications.
  3. Find the specific app you’d like to customize the notifications for, and press it.
  4. On this screen you can do all kinds of things with your notifications, but for our purposes, we want to scroll down to Notification Grouping. Press it.
Notification Grouping in iOS Leif Johnson/IDG

I’m only picking on Messages here because it’s the app I get the most notifications from. As you can see, I keep most turned off.

So here’s where the fun happens.

The default setting in iOS 12 is Automatic, which allows iOS 12 to compile smart notification stacks for each app. The notifications will always be grouped by app, but iOS 12 sometimes makes different stacks depending on whether, say, a bunch of emails in Mail come from a different person.

Grouped Notifications Leif Johnson/IDG

Select By App, though, and every notification for a single app falls under a single stack every time. It’s the Automatic mode taken to the extreme, and it might be worth it for apps with repetitive notifications.

And if you don’t care for all this stacking, you can go back to the good ol’ days—or the current days, if you’re still running iOS 11—by clicking Off. Do this, and each notification for a particular app will once again show up individually.

Customizing notifications from the Notification Center

Fortunately, Apple ensures that you don’t always have to run back to Settings if you want to cut a notification out of your life. You can do it straight from the stacks of your Notification Center. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find the stack of notifications you wish to customize.
  2. Press and hold your finger on the stack to activate Force Touch. You’ll then see an isolated notification pop up on the screen.
  3. Click the three dots in the upper right for More Options.
  4. You’ll now see a couple of big options. You can Turn Off all notifications for that app entirely, or you can set them to Deliver Quietly (which means they show up on the app but not in the Notification Center). Alternatively, you can just click Settings and have access to all the options described in the first section above.
Notification Center Leif Johnson/IDG

In fact, most of the time it will be more convenient to customize notifications this way.

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