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iPad: How to Manage App Notifications

Through Apple’s Push Notification service, app developers can send you alerts related to programs you’ve installed on your iPad. Such alerts are typically in text form but may include sounds as well.

The idea is that you’ll receive notifications even when the application they apply to isn’t running. Notifications may also appear as numbered “badges” on their corresponding Home screen icon.

The downside to keeping Push notifications turned on is that they can curtail battery life (though honestly the iPad’s staying power is pretty good even when Push notifications are active). And you may find notifications distracting at times.

In iOS 5 and later, you manage the notifications on an app-by-app basis. To do so, tap Notifications on the left side of the Settings screen, as shown in this figure, and then tap the app you want to manage.

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All installed apps that take advantage of iOS 5’s Notification Center appear on the right side of the Notification Settings panel as shown in the figure, with the enabled apps displayed in the upper section (In Notification Center) and disabled apps in the lower section (Not in Notification Center).

Tap any app to adjust its settings, as shown in this figure.

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This figure shows the settings for the Mail app. Some apps offer other options including sound alerts, and other apps may offer fewer options, but you’ll figure it out. To help you get started, here’s a rundown of the options shown, starting at the top:

  • Notification Center: Tap the switch to enable or disable notifications for this app.

  • Show: Tap to select the maximum number of notifications you want to see onscreen at once — 1, 5, 10, or 20.

  • Alert Style: Tap to select the style of alert you want to see:

    • None: Choose None, and notifications won’t appear spontaneously. They’ll still be available in the Notification Center (swipe down from the top of the screen) but won’t interrupt your work (or play).

    • Banners: Choose Banners to display alerts as banners at the top of the screen and have them go away automatically, as opposed to . . .

    • Alerts: Choose Alerts to display alerts that require action before proceeding.

  • Badge App Icon: Enable this to display the number of pending alerts on the app’s icon on your Home screen.

  • Show Preview: Enable this to see the first part of the mail or iMessage as part of the notification.

  • View in Lock Screen: Enable this option if you want to see notifications for this app when your iPad screen is locked.

Apps that don’t take advantage of the iOS Notification Center can still offer notifications, but you’ll have to scroll down to the Apps section on the left side of Settings and tap the app you want to alter. Note that the app you hope to fiddle with doesn’t always appear in the Apps section of Settings. Many of the apps that do appear in the list don’t offer notifications anyway.

On the other hand, many apps do. One that has a broad variety of notification options is Facebook. You can choose to have the giant social network push notifications related to Wall or Timeline posts, friend requests, photo tags, events, and more. Or, choose not to be notified about any or all of these.

The broader point here is to check out the settings for all the apps you see in this list. You’ll never know about many useful options if you don’t. If you find you went overboard with notifications at first, to the point where they become annoying or distracting, don’t fret. You can always go back and redo some or all of the notifications that you’ve set up.

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