TipBITS: Stop Grouping Reminders Notifications
When I want to remind myself of something I need to do, I pick up my iPhone and tell Siri to nudge me at an appropriate moment. (“Hey Siri, remind me to crank the truck at 9 AM.”) When the clock strikes that time, the iPhone pings me with a notification, which also remains on the Lock screen until I complete or clear it.
(If some task needs to happen soon, but not at a specific time, I still schedule it for some time, like 9 AM, on the day I’m most likely to complete it. That way, the Lock screen notification reminds me of the task’s existence until I deal with it. If you don’t ask to be reminded at a particular time, you have to remember to find the task in Reminders itself, defeating the purpose of asking for a reminder.)
But lately, I’ve been missing a lot of important notifications.
The culprit was notification grouping, a feature introduced in iOS 12 to stack notifications in Notification Center so more apps’ notifications could fit onscreen. Before that, a chatty Messages thread or Slack conversation could dominate the Lock screen, hiding more important notifications from Reminders and Calendar. That’s a worthy goal, but if I had more than one Reminders notification on a given day, I would have to tap the stack to see anything beyond the top one. That’s not difficult, but the stack prevented the Reminders notifications from serving their purpose of continuing to remind me of what I needed to accomplish.
Thankfully, you can turn off this feature for any app, including Reminders. Go to Settings > Notifications > Reminders > Notification Grouping (at the bottom of the screen) and choose Off. That prevents iOS from stacking your Reminders notifications, so you see each one individually.
Great tip. I rely on ios reminders too.
One thing I’d suggest to @jcenters is rather than ignore the notification and hope to see it on your lock screen, Snooze for an hour and get another notification. It’ll prevent those notifications from falling off the Lock Screen and if get annoyed enough by the constant notifications, you’re more likely to actually accomplish the task.
I use reminders for everything. One of my favorite is to have the reminder trigger when I leave the car. For example:
When I shut off the car, I’m reminded to take the cold cuts out of my trunk rather than leaving them to fester in a hot trunk until I suddenly realize what is that smell. Not that’s ever happened to me before.
I also have a shared grocery list with my wife. When we need to add something to our grocery list, we can both just add the reminder via our Apple Watches.
The new tagging feature is helpful if I am planning to buy something from a particular store. I can add a hashtag to those items and Reminders can pull them all up onto one list.
Just a note that this tip works in macOS too. This is where I get most notifications during the workday.
In the Notifications pref pane, each app has “Notification grouping” options at the bottom. One of the options is “by app”, which is weird since the setting is for an individual app.
Yeah, what does that even mean? Same on iOS. I’m already setting the app’s notification preference so WTH is by app trying to indicate?
The default (Automatically) will group messages by app, but it will also group notifications by individual or thread. I don’t know if this works across apps. For example a friend who has sent me a message via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple Messages. Will these all be stacked together?
Selecting By App turns this sub-stacking off.
Yup. I cannot stand notification grouping in any app, and disable it as soon as I install an app, configuring notifications when they are first enabled. It’s a misfeature, IMO. I think it’s simply better to disable notifications (or, better still, not install the app) rather than trying to manage notifications for them. Or in a pinch you can send notifications to Notification Centre, but leave them off your lock screen. Sadly, there is no clear way to disable that setting globally–you’ve got to do it for each and every app. One of the sheer joys of setting up a new device for me is simply this: reviewing every app’s notification preferences, and getting them right. It’s tedious, but totally worthwhile.
I also love Reminders a lot, and agree that leaving the notification around is a good way to get it done, but it requires immense discipline not to clear away the notification before one has done it, so you need to train yourself always to do it first. It would be nice if there were a more formal persistence mechanism than this–notifications aren’t supposed to be permanent but transient and there’s no guarantee you’ll see it again after the first.
Ideally, I would do the thing Reminders tells me to do so they don’t pile up, but my brain doesn’t work that way
So grateful you posted this for the number of times I rely on Reminders. Thanks. I’m growing a little weary of Apple’s current rapid-change for change’s sake habit of sneaking pre-chosen new preferences into our apps that sabotage the way we’ve used them for years. It feels like walking through a minefield rather than a pleasant helpful experience. Apple used to be the king of intuitive software.
It’s a little curious that this notification grouping feature only started to bother people recently, given that it has been in place for years. I wonder if something in iOS 15 changed how it was interpreted.
If you get a lot of group reminders, it can be annoying to see the same message alerting you about every single thing you are supposed to do. You can turn this feature off and only receive a notification for the first reminder of a group. Open the app, click on the Settings tab under your profile, and then click on the notifications button. Scroll down to the “Group Reminders” section, and toggle the button that says “Remind Me” to the off position.
Join the discussion in the TidBITS Discourse forum