Last Updated: April 21, 2014
Forget needing to check your apps manually to figure out whether something has happened in them that you need to pay attention to. These days, apps are smart enough to send you notifications that there's something you need to check out. These alerts, called push notifications, can show up as badges on apps or messages that pop up on your iOS device's home or lock screens. This article explains how to configure and use them.
To take advantage of push notifications, you'll need:
- An iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.0 or higher
- Apps that support push
- A web connection (3G/4G or Wi-Fi)
Time Required: A minute or two
- To turn push notifications on, first install an app that supports them. Many of the built-in apps that come with the iOS support push, including Mail, Messages, Calendar, Phone, and Passbook.
- Next, tap the Settings app.
- What you see in Settings depends on what version of the iOS you're running. On iOS 7 and higher, tap Notification Center. On earlier versions, tap the Notifications menu (if you don't see it, you likely don't have an app that supports push) and move the slider to On.
- If you're on iOS 7 and higher, you can skip this step. In iOS 6 and lower, turning notifications on reveals the apps on your device that support push notifications.
- In iOS 7, the main Notification Center screen lists a number of options, as well as apps that support push. The first section, Access on Lock Screen, lets you choose whether notifications will appear on your device's screen even when it's locked. This can be helpful for voicemails and text messages. Move the Notifications View slider to On/green to enable this. The next option, Today View, lets notifications appear in the pull-down Notification Center (access this by locking your device and then swiping down from the top of the screen; it's the opposite of how you access Control Center). Enabling this can be helpful, but it can also allow people who have your device to see your notifications. Move the slider to the setting you want.
- In iOS 7, the next section on this screen is Today View, which refers to what's shown on the Today screen in the pull-down Notification Center (again, try swiping down from the top of the screen to reveal it). Your options include to show all notifications in the a number of different views. Choose your preferred setting for each option and move the slider to on/green or off/white.
- Lastly, choose whether to see notifications sorted manually or by the time when they arrived by tapping your selection in the Notifications View section.
- With that done, you then move on to changing settings for each compatible app on your device. There are multiple ways for push notifications to display content to you. You control these options by app, so different apps can display their content differently. To control these options, tap on an app.
- Begin by choosing an Alert Style. Your options are None, Banners (which are small messages that stack on the iPhone's home or lock screen), or Alerts (bigger boxes that are centered on the home screen). Tap the one you prefer.
- Next, you can choose whether you want a Badge App Icon (a red number that appears on the app's icon that indicates how many messages/alerts the app has for you) to appear or Sound to play when there's an alert. Move the slider to green/On to enable badges and tap the menu to select a sound or vibration.
- In iOS 5 and up, you can determine whether the alerts appear in the Notification Center feature. To allow this, move the Show in Notification Center slider to On/Green and choose the number of notifications you want to appear for that app in Notification Center (1, 5, or 10) from the menu.
- Lastly, you can choose whether or not notifications appear on your iPhone's lock screen by moving the slider.