How to Use App Limits and Downtime in iOS 12

by

In iOS 12, Apple's digital health push includes a couple of special new features for iPhone and iPad users who want to cut down on their app usage: App Limits and Downtime. In this article, we'll show you how to use them.

App Limits allows you to set specific time limits on a particular app category (games, for example). When you've spent the designated time using the app category, iOS sends you an alert notifying you of the fact. Of course, you're free to ignore these alerts, but the idea behind them is that they'll help you manage your time better.

how to set app limits in ios 12
The second feature, Downtime, enables you to set a daily schedule for when you'd rather not use your iOS device at all. Once activated, the feature restricts device usage to phone calls and any apps you've specifically exempted from Downtime. Like App Limits, you can override these restrictions – they're more like good guidance than anything else, and can still help if you honestly want to self-regulate your mobile usage.

How to Set Individual App Limits in iOS 12

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap the Screen Time graph for this device. Alternatively, tap All Devices.
    ios 12 app limits

  4. Scroll down to the Most Used list and tap an app you want to set a limit for.
  5. Tap Add Limit at the bottom of the menu.
    IMG 0075

  6. Select a time limit using the hour and minute wheels. If you want to set different limits for particular days of the week, tap Customize Days.
  7. Tap Add to apply the app limit.

How to Set App Category Limits in iOS 12

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap App Limits.
  4. Tap the categories in the list that you'd like to include in the limit, or select All Apps & Categories.
    ios 12 app limits 1

  5. Tap Add in the upper right of the screen.
  6. Select a time limit using the hour and minute wheels. If you want to set different limits for particular days of the week, select Customize Days.
  7. Tap Back when you're done.
  8. Add another limit if desired, or tap Screen Time to return to the main Screen Time menu.

When you're approaching a designated limit, iOS will alert you in advance with a standard notification. When you finally reach the limit, the alert will take over the screen.

ios 12 app limit warnings
If you want to override the custom limit, simply tap Ignore Limit. You can then select either to Reminded Me in 15 Minutes or Ignore Limit for Today.

To delete app category limits and individual app Limits at any time, go to Settings -> Screen Time -> App Limits, tap on the limit you want to remove, then tap Delete Limit.

How to Use Downtime in iOS 12

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap Downtime.
    ios 12 downtime

  4. Slide the Downtime toggle to enable it.

  5. Select a Start and End time using the dropdown hour and minute wheels.

How to Exempt Certain Apps From Downtime

If there are particular apps which you'd like to remain accessible during Downtime, you can add these to your Allowed Apps list, located in Settings -> Screen Time -> Always Allowed.

ios 12 downtime 1
Simply tap the green plus buttons beside apps that you want to add to the list, or the red minus buttons to remove them.

Top Rated Comments

aardwolf Avatar
31 months ago

Only if you give them the passcode you set up when you enable Time Limit.

No, I just tested it. There is no passcode required to tell it to ignore the time limit.

Edit: Oh, you're right! You have to turn on the Content and Privacy Restrictions (under a different menu item) to make it prompt them for a password.

This will actually let me give my daughter an iPad now. :-)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
eroyce Avatar
31 months ago

They were SO close to having something that works for kids. As it works now, the kids can just ignore the limit...

If your kids have separate devices and their own appleID set up as part of the family, they will need to request permission from you to extend their time limit.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Billberryjuice Avatar
29 months ago
A few things this still needs:

- bug fixes: not tried it on many other apps but on Safari when the limit has run out and I “ignore for 15 minutes”, instead of getting 15 minutes it will lock down again basically every time I change page or tap on something (on iPhone 6S). Looking at the Screen Time data, I guess this is something to do with the way it logs time for individual sites.

- A simpler way to set restrictions on individual apps: the current way almost feels like it’s unintentional by the way it’s hidden, completely unintuitive

- Categories editing

- Finer Downtime control: what if I want different rules for the weekend? The app restrictions allow custom limits by day, why not here? Ideally they would add even finer control than this (e.g. the ability to set two or more Downtime slots per day)

- Better implementation of “Share Across Devices”: on my main iPhone I spent ages adding apps to Always Allow, setting up Downtime and app limits, and turned on SAD, before moving on to my other phone and iPads - switching on SAD on another device should have picked up the settings I already changed on the first device and brought them to the second - nope, the opposite happens and the settings on the first seem to be wiped away. Thankfully, a way around this is to turn SAD off again on the first device and its own settings should come back. It looks like the way to get your settings to apply across all devices (without redoing them n times) is to turn on SAD on all the other devices *first*, then turn it on on the device that you changed all the settings of, as it seems the last one you switch it on for pushes its settings to all the others.

- Second thing on Share Across Devices: it seems that the only way to see all of your devices in your Screen Time bar chart is to enable SAD across all of them - but what if I want to set different limits for each but still be able to see the data from all of them in one place? Currently this doesn’t seem possible.

- (edit) Third thing on Share Across Devices: turning it on caused some old Apple apps to appear on my home screen for my iPhones in random places (e.g. top right corner) - one was iTunes Store and the other I forget but both were promptly deleted again. I can only guess why this happened but clearly wasn’t intentional!


TLDR: I like it but it needs some work.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KC in KC Avatar
31 months ago

They were SO close to having something that works for kids. As it works now, the kids can just ignore the limit...

As a parent, there has to be way to completely ban an application. Currently, you have to assign at least 1 minute of time. This is not a good parental control.

Also, there is too much "security" based on Apple's view of app categories. If I want my child to use one "Social Networking" app and not others, there isn't a good way to do that except granting "Always Available". Then the downtime limits don't apply.

It looks like Our Pact or other parental controls will still be required in IOS 12.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jutdon84 Avatar
31 months ago

They were SO close to having something that works for kids. As it works now, the kids can just ignore the limit...

Only if you give them the passcode you set up when you enable Time Limit.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shareef777 Avatar
29 months ago
All I can say is it’s about damn time. This feature is AMAZING! I’m able to lock down my two younger sons iPads and my daughters iPhone. They can request more time (similar process to requesting app purchases), and I can grant an extra 15min, 1hr, or remainder of the day. Single greatest iOS feature addition since the App Store!!!
[doublepost=1537408914][/doublepost]

would be good to know how this works with family sharing. Eg can kids be set up so they can't ignore the limits? If they hit a limit can they request an extension from the parent?

Yep, they can request more time per app, and you can approve for an additional 15min, 1hr, or remainder of the day.
[doublepost=1537408946][/doublepost]

They were SO close to having something that works for kids. As it works now, the kids can just ignore the limit...

You can set a password to prevent that.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
windows 10

Developer Successfully Virtualizes Windows for Arm on M1 Mac

Friday November 27, 2020 7:16 am PST by
Developer Alexander Graf has successfully virtualized the Arm version of Windows on an M1 Mac, proving that the M1 chip is capable of running Microsoft's operating system (via The 8-Bit). Currently, Macs with the M1 chip do not support Windows and there is no Boot Camp feature as there is on Intel Macs, but support for Windows is a feature that many users would like to see. Using the...
General black friday 20 sale feature

Thanksgiving Day Deals Still Available on AirPods, M1 Macs, Apple Watch Series 6, iPads

Thursday November 26, 2020 10:21 am PST by
Black Friday deals seem to start earlier and earlier every year, so there were already a wide variety of discounts available for Apple products on Thanksgiving Day. Many of the deals remain available even after Thanksgiving, but act fast, as inventory quickly fluctuates. Thanksgiving Day Deals on Apple Products — Still Available:AirPods with a wireless charging case remain available for...
iPhone black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPhone Deals

Friday November 27, 2020 12:56 pm PST by
Black Friday is halfway done, but there are still a few deals to shop for on iPhones at carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile/Sprint. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. AT&T Starting with AT&T, you'll find up to $700 off any iPhone 12 when...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
iphone trade in store

UK Environmental Committee Says Apple Contributing to 'Throwaway Culture' of 'Short-Lived Products'

Thursday November 26, 2020 7:07 am PST by
Technology companies like Apple are contributing to e-waste by making their products difficult to repair, and charging expensive repair fees, according to a lengthy report published today by the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee. "We were told that Apple glues and solders parts together on their laptops, which makes repairing them very difficult," the Committee wrote in a summary ...
m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
iPad Pro 5G and Mini LED feature

Rumored 2021 High-End iPad Pro May Feature 5G With mmWave Support

Thursday November 26, 2020 2:14 am PST by
Apple's rumored high-end iPad Pro models to be released next year will be 5G-enabled with mmWave support, according to sources cited by industry publication DigiTimes. Multiple rumors have suggested Apple is planning to release a high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a mini-LED display next year, with the possibility that there will be an 11-inch mini-LED model too, but details beyond that have...