Notification Center in iOS is a panel that keeps track of all of your incoming notifications so you can easily access them. It has been around since iOS 5, but it has been completely redesigned in iOS 7. In this article, you’ll discover how to increase enjoyment of your iOS device by customizing Notification Center. First, you’ll learn how to change the way certain apps show notifications. Then you will learn how to set Notification Center to show only the notifications you want in a customized view.

First, there are a few important settings you’ll want to pay attention to. On your iOS device go to Settings, Notification Center and scroll down to the bottom. Confirm that under Government Alerts, both AMBER and Emergency Alerts are ON. Both of these settings are optional, but they are potentially life saving…

The first setting we’ll cover can be useful in protecting your privacy.  When you receive text messages or iMessages, your device will automatically show the contents of the message in the push notification. While this is definitely convenient, it can pose a privacy issue for sensitive messages. Below you’ll find how to fix this as well as how to determine. First, though, let’s look at how to determine what type of notifications you can get from the Messages app.

In the Notifications settings page, tap Messages, and under Alert Styles choose Alert, Banner or None.

When choosing what types of notifications you want, it’s important to consider the tradeoffs for each type. Alerts require an action before proceeding, but will interrupt whatever you were doing until you dismiss them. Banners appear at the top of the screen and go away automatically after a moment so they don’t interrupt you, but if you look away from your phone for a moment you could miss an important notification. You can also swipe banners upward to dismiss them more quickly.

You can see an example of an alert on the left and a banner on the right in the screenshots below.

More importantly, the Show Preview setting makes the content of the message display in the alert or banner. You can find this setting at the bottom of the Messages notification settings. Messages is the only app with this option, so you can’t apply it to your Twitter or Facebook apps.


Below is an alert on the left and a banner on the right, with the message previews turned off. Notice the content of the message is not displayed.

The “Show on Lock Screen” setting makes notifications display even if  the phone is locked. Below on the right is a news alert shown on the lock screen.

The “Badge App Icon” setting controls whether or not the number of pending alerts is displayed on the app’s icon. Below is a screen shot of the Messages icon with the icon badge turned on on the left and turned off on the right. Not having the number of pending messages displayed is a nice privacy feature if combined with not displaying message alerts on the lock screen and choosing “None” as the “Alert Types” setting.

The “Alert Sound” setting is used to control the sound made when you receive an alert. It can be customized to be a particular sound, or vibration, or both. For third-party apps you can only select whether a sound will play—you can’t decide which sound will correspond to each app. Only Messages and Phone allow you to select your alert sound.

These settings are the basics of how each app’s notifications work. Apply the settings you like to each of the remaining apps listed such as Mail, Calendar, News related apps, etc. This customizes how your iOS device acts when you receive notifications from each different app.

Now let’s review the settings for the actual Notification Center. Customizing it gives you the ability to see all your notifications at once, with only the information you really care about.

In the “Access on Lock Screen” section, turning off “Notifications View” makes it so Notification Center cannot be accessed from the lock screen. Turning off “Today View” makes it so the summary of the day’s events can’t be seen from the lock screen.


Below is Notification Center on the left in the Today View, and on the right without it.

In the “Today View” section, indicate which items you want to include in your Today View. The “Today Summary” summarizes the day’s upcoming events in text form. Also in the “Today View” section, you can indicate if you want to see a Calendar Day View, Reminders, Stocks and a Tomorrow Summary or not.


Below is the Today View on the left with Today Summary on, and on the right with “Today Summary” turned off.

Next you’ll want to review the “Include” and “Do Not Include” lists. This allows you to decide which apps will list messages in the Notification Center and which apps will not.


To include or exclude an app from the list, tap the app name and scroll down and tap Show in Notification Center. If you turn “Show in Navigation Center” on, it allows you to customize how many alerts are displayed using the “Include” setting below it.

Now when you when you swipe down from the top of the screen, you get a very customized view of Notification Center. Use the tabs at the top, or swipe left or right to switch between “Today,” “All” and “Missed” views of your notifications. The Missed tab reflects notifications you received when the device was locked.

Another aspect of Notification Center, called Frequent Locations is activated or deactivated in Privacy settings. This controversial feature displays a map and list of all the places you have been frequently. To turn it off, tap Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Services > Frequent Locations.

Now that app updates can take place automatically, you may want to use Notification Center to see what apps have been updated. If you turn on “Show in Notification Center” for the App Store, updates are listed in Notification Center. Tapping one conveniently brings you to the Updates area of the App Store, where you can tap “What’s New” under the version number to see the details of the update.

Taking a few moments to customize Notification Center enables you to focus on what you want to access quickly, while filtering out superfluous information.

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14 Responses to “How-to: Customize and use Notification Center in iOS 7”

  1. Did they take out the FaceBook & Twitter quick post from notifications? I loved that feature.


  2. Lee Duncan says:

    thanks for the article very useful 0by teh way where did you get teh wall from I like that , a lot :)


  3. Lee Duncan says:

    sorry about above post – thanks for the article very useful article by the way where did you get the wallpaper from I like that , a lot


  4. PMZanetti says:

    “Confirm that under Government Alerts, both AMBER and Emergency Alerts are ON. Both of these settings are optional, but they are potentially life saving…”

    Did you get paid to say that? Good grief, grow up for crying out loud.


  5. Phil Bamford says:

    Sarah – please help, I’m on the brink of losing my mind. I am setting up my mother’s iPhone 4 – iOS 7.02. She wants to change the email (Gmail) alert sound from default to Aurora. I have set this in Sounds -> New Mail, and also Notification Centre -> Mail. (-> Gmail only allows me to set Sounds On/Off, not the actual sound itself).

    The phone continues to use the default sound. I have changed the settings, rebooted the phone, checked the right settings, but the phone just seems to ignore them! Help!!


    • Bob Archer says:

      As the article says, you can only specify the Sound for specific apps. while Mail is one of them, gmail is not. You should be able to set the Mail app to get your gmail… this way it will use the notification sound you set. You can use both apps, but I would suggest only setting one to do the notifications.


  6. Is there a way to see all the appointments for one day – not the space between the appointments? If I have an appointment at 9:00 am 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm and I check the notification center when I wake up at 6:00 am I only see the first six hours of the day when I want to see a summary of my entire day.


    • brettdukes says:

      I only want to be able to hear my iPhone ring and nothing else at certain times of the day. I used to gave a Blackberry and this could easily achieved by creating a profile for phone only – can my iPhone do anything like this??


  7. i got a little problem on my phone, i activated the notification for the messages on my phone, but still my phone does not show any notification whenever i received a message. it happens when i updated my software from ios7 to ios7.1


  8. schroef says:

    Hi there, perhaps this is an old post but in having hard times getting notification back on the lock screen. In ios7.1.2 in now only see the music controls in the lock screen and I don’t see notification center at all. I can access it by swiping down in the lock screen. I never had this issue before and can’t seem to find the correct serifs to change this back. It also seems like non normal behavior of the system.


    • pilotboba says:

      Go to Settings -> Notification Center… the first two settings in the “Access on Lockscreen” should be turned on.


  9. This was a very informative article. The info and screen shots were especially helpful!