iOS 5: How to Use Notification Center

Apple’s iOS 5 release date is finally here today. I’m really excited to see how the new Notification Center will change one of the worst elements in iOS 5.

Android handles Notifications better than iOS 4, but Apple seems to have caught up with Notification Center – the place where you see all of your reminders, alarms, email notifications, and more.

On both the iPad and iPhone, you will see a small bar across the top of the screen when you get a notification called alerts. You can swipe down from the top and it will reveal a list with all of your notifications categorized by kind.

For example, you will see To Do reminders in one section, appointment notifications in another, and email messages in a third. Other kinds of notifications will include text messages or app messages, like We Rule reminding you that your beans are ready to harvest.

iPhone iOS 5 Notification Drawer
iPhone iOS 5 Notification Drawer

You won’t be interrupted by a notification, which would previously pop-up and interrupt whatever you were doing with iOS 4. On iOS 5 the notification flashes at the top of the screen but lets you keep working. You can later swipe down to get more information or do it immediately.


Features notification overview

The Notification Center lets you tap each notification to go to that item. Hit the calendar entry to open the iOS calendar or the text message to open Messages.

In addition to notifications you can see weather and stocks too.

Features notification lockscreen

On the iOS 5 lock screen you will also see your notifications. If you get a voice mail, hit the home button and your phone will wake up. Slide the Phone app icon to quickly go to  your voice mail. Swipe other notifications to quickly deal with them as well. This way you don’t have to slide the unlock button, open the app, and then deal with the notification.


The new Notification Center saves you time and actions making it simpler.

Notification Settings for Apps
Set which apps can use Notification Center in Settings

Fortunately, Apple included some user customization in the iOS 5 Settings page. If you tap Settings you can find them. The Notifications screen lets you pick which apps can use the new feature.

Change how Notifications Center behaves in Settings
Change how Notifications Center behaves in Settings

You can also turn the feature on or off, tell it how many times to show and whether to include Badge Icons, Previews, and how many times to repeat the Alert. If you don’t want them on your Lock Screen you can turn that off too.

The style of Alerts can be changed to show them as a banner at the top, a pop-up alert like similar to the old system, or no alerts at all. To turn any of these features on or off just tapp on the On/Off icons like you see above from the iPad version.

The video below shows you how the iOS 5 Notification center works, allowing you to get subtle notifications and swipe down to view notifications when you are ready.

This new Notification Center catches iOS up to Android. Users will find it a welcome upgrade whether you are upgrading your iPad or older iPhone or getting a new iPhone 4S when it launches Friday.

Kevin loves notebooks, tablets, gadgets and photography. He grew up with computers starting out on a Vic 20 and Commodore 64. The first computer he owned himself was an 8086 Compaq Deskpro. His foray into tablet computing began when he bought a Samsung Q1 Ultra. The smartphone market opened up for him with his Palm Treo 600.


  1. I’m probably being dense here, but is it possible to show a few upcoming appointments on the lock screen by default, even if the reminders for those appointments have not arrived yet?  
    I was hoping iOS 5 would allow me to ‘put my calendar on my lock screen’ but doesn’t seem to work like that. 

      • That would be incredible. They took the time to write a weather widget, but didn’t include a calendar widget? I’m still hoping this can be done, but I fear the worst. Still eyeing WP7.5..

        • Apparently you guys don’t spend enough time digging around. Use the new “Reminders” app and you can program reminders based on time, location, etc. For example, my phone reminds me when I leave the house that I need to pick up contacts. It will also remind me when I drive near a Best Buy that I need to pick up a present on my list! Android can suck it. 

  2. I updated to iOS5 last night and I am missing some of the “key” updates such as camera from lock screen and notification center.  How to do I get these features on my phone without doing a factory setting reset?

  3. I updated, and can’t see the notification centre in any way. I suppose I have to stand on my head or something.

  4. Having trouble with iMessage.  Went to settings and there is no option for Sms or mms.  I keep getting error that the number isn’t registered.  It is a iPhone that I am trying to use

  5. Where can you find the Icon for reminders? I saw a post earlier that said it is in the double home key but I deleted all the apps in there and it is gone now. Any ideas?

  6. My reminders won’t show up in the notification center. How do I fix it? I wanna swipe down and see my reminders

  7. I hit clear x button accidentally on notification screen and now I don’t get email notification despite it being turned on

    • Hi,I think I have the same problem as you. I set a couple of reminders and received an e mail and an alert which is what I wanted. Now I do exactly the same but only get an alert…I want an e mail! Have checked all settings & getting nowhere.did you find a solution

    • Pull down from running iPad/iPhone/IPT, not from lock screen. Notifications show up on lock screen automatically. If you aren’t getting notifications, it may be because of offensive tweets and such. Just sayin. I kid, I kid.

      • Everyone expected NC to work with the lock screen. Everyone wanted the jailbroken version of NC. Apple didn’t explain clear enough the difference between NC and Notifications on lock screen. Then or now.
        Or … I am getting enough notifications, despite of my offensive tweets and such. Such as this email notification I just received from Disqus with your comment!! Just sayin….

  8. To get the DATE on the iPhone notification center (dashboard), check out the “Dashboard Calendar” app in the app store. It’s a super handy utility app.

  9. For something Apple stole from Android they found a way to screw this up. What a joke. They complicate things when there’s no need for that. I thought Iphone was supposed to be simple.

  10. Is there any way to turn this POC off completely, every time I try to scroll pu a page it comes down. Any responsible person should already have any special appointments anticipated!

  11. How go I change my email setting in the function. It is bringing up my other email address which is not my default

  12. for those trying to put your different apps in your notication to appear.. it only lets you put the top 3 apps to show up in there so u go to setting, notification, edit and then click and hold on the 3 bars to the side of app and then slide up to what ever postion u wish..

  13. I have a lot of calendars and would like to disable some – like Birthdays – from showing on the alerts screen but still be able to see them in Calendar mode.

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