Sometimes when I get an alert for a calendar event, there's a chime and the notification says that it's "time-sensitive". Other times the alert is silent and this wording isn't in the notification. I can't figure out what distinguishes the two types of events.

Some of my alerts are based on travel time, others are just based on time until the event starts. Could that be the distinction?

1 Answer 1


First we need to understand the different alert levels attached to notifications. Here is short description of notification alert levels from https://www.makeuseof.com/ios-15-time-sensitive-notifications-explained/. It refers to iOS, but applies equally to macOS.

Apple categorizes notification interruptions into four levels: passive, active, time-sensitive, and critical. Let's break down each to help you understand them better.

  • Passive: iOS delivers passive notifications (those that don't need immediate attention) silently without triggering sounds and vibrations and lighting up the screen.
  • Active, the default interruption level, are the regular notifications that will produce sound and vibrations and light up the screen.
  • Time-sensitive notifications are the special kind that will alert you, like active ones, but with a high priority of breaking through enabled system controls like Focus mode and Notification Summary.
  • Critical notifications, first introduced in iOS 14, have a higher priority than time-sensitive as they can bypass the ringer switch alert. Critical notifications only apply to sensitive cases like severe weather alerts and local safety alerts. And due to their nature, Apple has to grant an app developer permission individually to deliver critical notifications.

Note the reference to Focus mode. Time-sensitive alerts are intended to be those that the developer believes you might want to break through when you have a particular focus mode (e.g. Do Not Disturb) enabled.

You can control the delivery of time sensitive alerts by both application and focus mode. This is in System Preferences > Notifications & Focus.

It is up to the app developer to decide on the alert level for its own notifications. In typical Apple style, I can't find a precise definition or technical explanation for what Calendar app considers to be Time-sensitive. In Help, Apple say this for Calendar's Time-sensitive alerts:

Notifications for events that require your immediate attention.

And that is the best I can do. Not what you wanted, I know!

  • 1
    Yeah, this explains what TS notifications are, but not why some notifications are TS. There's nothing in the Calendar preferences that mentions this, nor the individual events.
    – Barmar
    Apr 6, 2022 at 13:33
  • @Barmar It is quite likely that what counts as TS changes according to your response to alerts.
    – Gilby
    Apr 7, 2022 at 4:09
  • I almost always just click the X to dismiss it.
    – Barmar
    Apr 7, 2022 at 13:42
  • There is no way on turning off calendar's app time sensitive? My use case, i have an outlook account logged into my macOS. Some invites are automatically accepted rather than having the choice of "Accept, Decline, Maybe". Id like to always make the call, not the calendar app automatically accepting. Is there a way to turn of TS notifications for calendar?
    – 9uzman7
    Feb 8, 2023 at 15:50

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