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How to whitelist apps in Focus Assist on Windows 10

Focus Assist is a useful feature on Windows 10 that allows you to turn off notifications for a while. It has different modes whereby the notifications are kept silent if you’re watching something in full screen mode, or if you’re playing a game. It allows notifications from certain apps, or you can set it so that only alarms can interrupt you and nothing else. If you use the Priority setting for Focus Assist, you can choose which apps are allowed to show notifications. Here’s how you can whitelist apps in Focus Assist.

You should know that whitelisting apps in Focus Assist is done via a built-in feature on Windows 10. As such, it has its own limitations where not all UWP apps can be whitelisted. It seems Windows 10 still filters which apps are allowed even as exceptions in Focus Assist.

Whitelist apps in Focus Assist

This whitelist applies only to the Priority Only mode in Focus Assist. Open the Settings app and go to the System group of settings. Select the ‘Focus Assist’ tab, and under Priority mode, click ‘Customize your priority list’.

Note: You do not need to enable Focus Assist and/or Priority Only mode to access the list of whitelisted apps.

The next screen will have settings for calls, text, messages, and People. Scroll past them and you will see an Apps section. Click the ‘Add an app’ button and from the dropdown that opens, select the app that you want to whitelist. That should do the trick.

It seems that the apps that are excluded from this list are ones that don’t show notifications. If you were to visit the notifications section in the Settings app, you’ll find that every single app on your system is listed there and you can allow it to show you notifications. While that means they’re allowed to show notifications, it doesn’t add the ability to the app itself to show notifications. If an app doesn’t have a notification feature, it won’t be able to show you anything. Case in point: Netflix. The app can’t show notifications; new arrivals appear as in-app notifications. It’s possible that Windows 10 chooses to exclude apps like this from the list of apps that can be added as an exception.

The desktop apps that can be added to the whitelist isn’t very long. You can add Chrome or Firefox but you can’t add Steam which does show notifications for new chat alerts or new in-game achievements. Of course the notifications are the app’s own and are not sent via the Windows notification center so that may be another reason.

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