I use my iPad a lot as I teach, showing the students slides, videos, etc.

Having a words with friends, draw something, or email notification, especially with personal content in the first line, show up is always distracting.

I see that I can change notification settings per-app, but don't see a way to disable all notifications system wide. Disabling apps individually works, but requires a bit of effort and time, and isn't something that can be done mid-lesson.

Is there a way to disable all notifications from appearing while you are actively using the device (e.g. while having your device mirrored on a screen during a lesson, presentation, demonstration, etc.), then re-enable all previously allowed notifications without fiddling with each one individually?

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    Most apps only trigger notifications while running in the background. Maybe quitting these applications is a better alternative than reconfiguring the notification center? – Gerry May 6 '12 at 18:29

(Since the accepted answer for this question is outdated and the actual answer is buried as a comment, I’m providing a better answer for all future people with this question, in hopes that it will become more visible.)

The default behavior for the Do Not Disturb feature is stopping notifications while the screen is locked, so that your iPad/iPhone won’t keep buzzing in your pocket/backpack/desk while you’re trying to concentrate on something else.

That’s good, but not what we want. We want to stop notifications while we’re using the device.

Well, at least since iOS 12 there’s an additional setting within Settings > Do Not Disturb that you can turn on, here:

Settings, Do Not Disturb, Always

All you need to do is change the “Silence” option to “Always” in this screen. It will keep any and all notifications away from your screen as you write, read, present content to others, play a game, etc.

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    Thanks for the screenshot. The previously accepted answer does mention this, but near the bottom and as an edit. – Adam Davis Sep 6 '19 at 19:31

After years, Apple provided a way of achieving this.

It is called the "Do Not Disturb" feature, available since iOS 10.

ref: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204321

Update per @Pascal's comment as there's a lot of confusion about this online:

Under Settings -> Do Not Disturb, you can select to 'Always' disable notifications when in Do Not Disturb mode, not just while locked.

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    At least with iOS 11, the “Do Not Disturb” feature does not prevent notifications while using the iPad interactively. Engaging “Do Not Disturb” seems to only inhibit notifications while the iPad is locked or asleep. – Tom Mar 16 '18 at 14:16
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    @Tom I was annoyed by that too, but you can actually change that behaviour in the Do Not Disturb preferences (Settings --> Do Not Disturb). – Pascal Aug 8 '18 at 19:17

If you don't need a internet connection during the lesson a simple solution would be to just switch into airplane mode or to disable the Wi-Fi.

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  • Unfortunately this is the only way to disable them "globally" although it won't change local notifications such as Due.app. iOS 5 simply doesn't provide a global off switch. Yes, I find it annoying too. – TJ Luoma May 7 '12 at 1:07
  • This is an interesting solution, and for some cases would work well enough. – Adam Davis May 7 '12 at 13:45
  • Note that this would no longer be sufficient due to new app notifications that can be presented without an outside (internet) trigger. – Adam Davis Apr 30 '15 at 16:24
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    Since iOS7 there is a global switch to disable all notifications. Just turn Do Not Disturb on. However, it only makes them silent. – pre May 1 '15 at 8:30

Unfortunately, I don't think there's any way to disable all notifications at once in iOS 5. There is no global toggle switch (like there was in iOS 4).

Hopefully Apple will change this in the future!

All I can suggest is that you send Apple feedback.

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As of iOS 11, there is no way to temporarily disable all notifications while actively using the device (i.e. in "presentation mode").

There have been some Notification Center improvements announced for iOS 12, including Group Notifications and Instant Tuning (allowing you to swipe left on a notification and set it to "Deliver Quietly"), and some features that allow for timed Do-Not-Disturb. However, it is unknown at the moment if the temporary nature of the notification-disable can be applied to non-lock-screen notifications.

Do-Not-Disturb mode still appears to only affect lock-screen notifications, and not banner notifications (per your original scenario, which is what I'm searching for as well).

Until Apple addresses this in a future iOS update, one potential iOS 12 work-around that's not perfect but definitely an improvement would be to:

  1. Have all your notifications set to be grouped
  2. In notification center, select your most-used apps (which are probably at the top) and swipe left to "Manage" the app's notifications
  3. Select "Deliver Silently"
  4. After your lesson/presentation, go back into notification center, select those notification groups again, swipe left, Manage, and select "Deliver Prominently"

Again, not perfect, but at least easy to do for the 3-4 apps that you know are the worst offenders during your presentations.

More info: MacRumors - All of the Changes to Notifications in iOS 12

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  • Under Settings -> Do Not Disturb, you can cause iOS to Always disable notifications (see @Pascal's comment on the accepted answer above) when the device is in Do Not Disturb mode. – Jason Machacek Jun 29 '19 at 0:03

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