Focus Not Working on your iPhone? 10 Ways to Fix the Issue

When iOS 15 was released, it came with tons of new features and improvements that will help improve your workflow and efficiency. A prominent feature in this version is Focus which lets users set a custom routine that they can enable to avoid distractions from apps and people when they’re busy.

As helpful as the feature may be, there are a few issues that many are facing when using Focus on iPhones and this post should help you resolve them. 

What is Focus Mode?

Focus mode is a revamped DND mode on iOS that allows you to create a customized routine with a different DND schedule to match your workflow. These routines help you block and let through a customized list of apps and people using which you can better concentrate on your ongoing work. Focus mode differs from DND by allowing you to let through certain apps and people depending on your current needs and requirements. 

10 Ways to fix Focus not working issue

If you’re unable to use Focus on your iPhone or if you’re having trouble getting it to work properly, you can try one of the fixes below to try and fix it. 

#1: Make sure you have not whitelisted the app

If an app can bypass your focus mode then you should go ahead and check if the app hasn’t been whitelisted by you by mistake. In case the app is whitelisted, it won’t be affected by your current Focus mode. Use the guide below to check for whitelisted apps. 

Open the Settings app on your device and tap on Focus.

Now tap on the concerned focus mode that the app can bypass on your device. 

Tap on Apps under “Allowed Notifications” at the top of the screen.

Now check to see if the current app is available under the ‘Allowed Apps’ section. If it is, tap on the minus (-) to remove it from the whitelist. 

Once the app has been removed from your whitelist, it won’t be able to bypass your Focus mode anymore.

#2: Make sure you have not whitelisted someone

Another thing to check would be your contact’s whitelist. If you have someone who can get through to you be it through calls or messages by bypassing your current Focus mode, then it is likely that the contact has been whitelisted. Use the guide below to remove the contact from your whitelist. 

Open the Settings app on your device and tap on Focus.

Now tap on the concerned focus mode that your contact can bypass.

Tap on People under “Allowed Notifications” at the top of the screen.

You will now get a list of all the whitelisted contacts under the ‘Allowed People’ section. Find the concerned contact in this list and tap on the minus(-) icon above the contact. 

And that’s it! The concerned contact will now be removed from the whitelist and they will no longer be able to bypass your focus mode. 

#3: Make sure that another focus mode is not turned on

This might be a rare case scenario but in case an app or contact can bypass your Focus mode, then it would be a good idea to ensure that the correct focus mode is turned on. Simply activate the control center and tap on the Focus module to view all your Focus modes.

If a different focus mode is activated then simply tap on the desired one to activate it from the list instead. 

#4: Make sure your focus sync is disabled

If you own multiple Apple devices then this is likely the cause of your issue. Apple has always held its ecosystem in divinity, be it restricting devices to the ecosystem or introducing new features that help form the ecosystem in the first place. As you might expect, Focus modes are also tied into the Apple ecosystem out of the box. This is achieved by syncing your current Focus mode across all your Apple devices associated with your Apple ID. This helps avoid distractions no matter how many devices you own with a simple tap. However, if you find that focus mode is not working as intended or a different one is always enabled on your device, then chances are that it is syncing to your other devices associated with your Apple ID. This can especially be the case if the other device is being used by someone else. You can disable cloud sync for Focus modes easily, by using the guide below.

Open the Settings app on your device and tap on Focus

Now turn off the Share Across Devices toggle.

And that’s it! Your current device’s focus mode will no longer be synced across all your Apple devices. 

#5: Turn off ‘Repeated calls’ to avoid multiple calls from getting through

If you have an issue with calls getting through your focus mode then it might be due to repeated calls being enabled by default in every focus mode. When this setting is turned on, a contact is let through if they try to get in touch with you multiple times regardless of the fact if they are whitelisted or not. This setting helps you get in touch with your loved ones in case of emergencies when you have Focus mode turned on. However, if you have contacts that seem to misuse this feature then you can turn it off using the guide below. 

Open the Settings app and tap on Focus.

Inside the Focus screen, select the Focus you want customized. 

Tap on People under “Allowed Notifications” at the top of the screen.

Now, select Calls From under “Also Allow” at the bottom of your screen. 

Tap and turn off the Allow Repeated Calls toggle. 

And that’s it! Repeated calls will now be disabled and they will no longer be let through to you in any Focus modes. 

#6: Turn off time-sensitive notifications to avoid urgent notifications during a Focus mode

Apple uses Siri and machine learning to determine time-sensitive notifications and let them through regardless of your Focus mode. These notifications can be OTPs, account statements, amber alerts, important messages from emergency services, and more. This also includes reminders, pick-up notifications, and other alerts from important apps. If however, these notifications seem to annoy you and you are trying to avoid them through your Focus mode then you can turn them off in your settings using the guide below. 

Open the Settings app on your device and tap on Focus.

Now tap on the desired Focus mode where you wish to turn off this setting. 

Tap on Apps under “Allowed Notifications” at the top of the screen.

Turn off the Time-Sensitive toggle under “Also Allow”.

And that’s it! The time-sensitive notifications will no longer be able to bypass your Focus mode.

#7: Make sure Focus schedule time is correct

Are you using scheduled focus modes? Then chances are that there are some discrepancies in your schedule that might be causing the Focus mode to be activated or deactivated at the wrong time. Verify your schedule for the focus mode to ensure that it is not getting turned off or on at the wrong time using the guide below.

Open the Settings app on your device and tap on Focus

Now tap on the concerned Focus mode.

Scroll to the bottom and tap on one of the time slots listed under the ‘Turn On Automatically’ section. 

Next, verify if you’ve turned on Schedule for the selected duration and if the times and days for your schedule are correct. 

  • Ensure that the toggle at the top is enabled. 
  • Ensure that the correct time has been set. Double check-am and pm for ‘From’ and ‘To’ times. 
  • Ensure that the ‘Repeat’ is set to the correct days of the week. 

In case everything has been set correctly on your device then you can try one of the fixes below to fix the Focus mode on your device. 

#8: Make sure the Messages app is enabled inside iOS’ privacy settings

On iOS 15.6 and later, the Share Focus Status option may not show up when you access a person’s contact info inside the Messages app. This is because Apple has disabled the Messages app from sharing your Focus status by default after the update to iOS 15.6.

Due to this, you won’t see the Share Focus Status toggle inside a contact’s info screen on Messages. If you wish to share your Focus Status with others through the Messages app, you will need to manually enable it inside iOS’ privacy settings. 

To enable Focus Status sharing for the Messages app, open the Settings app on your iPhone. 

Inside Settings, go to Privacy & Security.

On this screen, scroll down and select Focus.

To enable the Share Focus Status feature inside Messages, turn on the Messages toggle under “Shared With”.

When you head back into Messages and access someone’s contact info, you’ll now see the Share Focus Status option available and you can turn it on to share your Focus Status with this person. 

#9: Ensure that the silent switch is not enabled

This is a long-standing iPhone issue. Have you tried everything but something is still keeping your phone silent? Well, iPhones have faced this issue for a long while but it is no longstanding bug or hardware issue. Have you checked the silent switch? In many cases, the silent switch is the cause of silence issues on an iPhone. Simply check the silent switch by toggling it and you should get a notification at the top sharing the current status of your iOS device. However, if your device wasn’t silenced by the silent switch then you can move to the last few fixes below. 

#10: Last Resort: Reset or Re-install

Well if the Focus mode doesn’t seem to work as intended, then the last thing you can do is try to reset your device so that there’s a fresh new copy of iOS 15 on your iPhone. A clean install of the OS on your device should help solve any background conflicts that might be stopping the Focus mode from working as intended. To reset your iPhone, open the Settings app on your device and go to General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset

We hope you were able to easily fix your Focus mode issues using one of the fixes above. If you still face issues, feel free to drop us a message in the comments section below. 

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  1. Anyone else having an issue with Focus? For some reason, it won’t let me Share Across Devices because “Focus syncing requires an iCloud account.” However, I do have an iCloud account connected, and even if I had to connect it somewhere else, it’s been impossible to find. Also, under Focus Status, I can’t enable it because “”Share Across Devices” must be turned on to share your Focus status from this device.” However, it is on. I’ve been messing with this for about 30 minutes and I can’t seem to find a solution.

    1. I have this same issue.

    2. Good day, my issue it’s when i select focus and try to select my contact, the whole thing just freezes. Please to you have any idea on how to resolve this.?

  2. I have another issue in iOS 15 after updating.
    I have two apple device. (iPhone 12 mini and iPad pro 12.9)
    I set the focus mode in my iPhone and sharing with my iPad.

    My iPad is always at home.
    The focus mode location is determined to my iPad.

    For example, my iPhone located at school and my iPhone located at home.
    The focus mode is not working in my iPhone.

    So, I turn off the sharing between two device.
    But, it still not working.

    It just working about my iPad location.

  3. I have a school focus created and set to specific times while I’m in class and on campus. However, it’s still not allowing notifications or calls to come through when I’m at home outside of the school time frame and away from the location of campus.

  4. Focus mode doesn’t notify people that I have it turned on… pulling out my hair trying to fix whatever bug is happening.

    1. Same!!!! WTF!!!

    2. I have the same issue – did you ever figure out a solution?

  5. I have followed all these steps to get focus setup for Driving. Driving states it’s on, great. When someone texts me there is an automatic reply that is NOT being sent out. This use to work before this Focus was introduced. What the heck.

  6. I have a problem with my focus where it doesn’t notify others that I’m on dnd and I can’t see when others on dnd when I and those people have the option on. Plus I went through everything with somebody to see if it was my setting and it wasn’t my share across devices is on and it’s on in messages I restarted my phone countless times and i every reset my setting but it’s still not there. In messages the option to share focus stratus I’d greyed out I cannot click it and I don’t know why .

  7. my focus status is still not working and i tried everything here.

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