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5 ways to take charge of Android and iOS notifications

Ben Patterson | March 12, 2015
Android and iOS notifications can get out of hand fast. For example, it seems like the notification light on my Android tablet is constantly pulsing, and no--I really don't need to know that there's a new episode of "Big Bang Club" available on the CBS app for iPhone.

Tap Settings > Sounds & Notifications, then Interruptions.

To prevent calendar events from interrupting your Priority time, flip off the switch next to Events and reminders.

You can shush calls and messages completely by flipping off the Messages switch — although doing so would basically turn Priority mode into "Complete Silence" mode. Instead of flipping the Messages switch, tap Calls/messages from and pick an option: Anyone, Contacts only, or (if you only want an elite group of callers) Starred Contacts only.

By default, app notifications are blocked in Priority mode, but you can let a few select ones get past the velvet rope. Go back to the Sound & notifications screen, tap App notifications, select an app, then flip on the Priority switch.

4. Block all of an app's notifications (Android and iOS)

Got an app that's particularly pushy when it comes to alerts? If so, it might be time to muzzle it for good.

For pre-Lollipop Android devices: Tap Settings > Apps, tap the Downloaded tab at the top of the screen, tap the app that's giving you too many alerts, then uncheck the Show notifications box.

For Lollipop Android handsets: Tap Settings > Sound & Notification > App Notifications, pick an app, then flip the Block switch.

For iOS: Tap Settings > Notifications, tap an app, then flip off the Allow Notifications switch.

5. Get VIP alerts via email (iOS)

Long ago, I decided against having my iPhone's display light up every time a new email arrived — which, as it turns out, is once every few minutes or so.

But what about email messages that really are important — like those from your boss, or your better half? To make your iPhone buzz, beep, or otherwise make a fuss, do this.

Launch the Mail app, back up to the main Mailboxes screen (the one that lists all your mailboxes and mail accounts), then look for the VIP mailbox. Tap the little 'i' there, just to the right.

Here, you can see a list of all your email VIPs. Tap Add VIP to pick new people from your Contacts list, or tap Edit to manage your existing VIP list.

Now tap VIP Alerts to jump to your VIP notification settings, where you can decide what'll happen when an email arrives from someone on the list. You can set a special VIP sound, for example, or allow VIP alerts to appear on your iOS lock screen. Keep in mind that any VIP alerts settings you pick won't affect your regular Mail alert settings.

Bonus tip: You can also set special Mail alerts for specific email threads. Whenever you compose a new email message or reply to a new one, try tapping the subject line, tap the little bell that appears, then tap Notify Me. You can manage your thread alerts by tapping Settings > Notifications > Mail > Thread Notifications.


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