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What are iPhone badges?

If you've got obsessive or compulsive behaviors, badges might drive you up the wall.

Published onAugust 18, 2023

Whether it’s by necessity, for marketing, or both, Apple tends to use a lot of unusual terminology for its products and features. In this primer we’ll explain what the company means by notification “badges,” and how you can clear them out or disable them.


Badges are the red circles next to app icons that indicate important info about app content, such as unread messages or unseen notifications.


What are badges in the iPhone notification settings?

“Badges” are those red circles you periodically see in the corners of app icons. Most badges have a number, reflecting info an app developer thinks warrants your attention — unread messages in Gmail, new tasks in Asana, or unseen notifications in Facebook, for example. In fact it’s rare to see a badge without a number, but that can happen, say if you have new voicemail but your carrier doesn’t support Visual Voicemail.

If you see a badge over a folder rather than app, that means that one or more apps inside that folder has badge data to display.

How to clear notification badges on an iPhone

One of the annoyances of using an iPhone is that so long as badges are on, there’s no way to temporarily clear them without opening affected apps one-by-one. You may have to dive even deeper, for instance checking specific tabs, or (in the case of chat or email apps) marking all messages as read, regardless of whether you actually have time to look at them.

If badges are truly bothering you, you can disable them permanently on a per-app basis.

How to turn off notification badges on an iPhone

There’s no option to disable badges across the board, unfortunately, but it’s usually just a few apps creating an annoyance. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Notifications, then scroll down to the Notification Style section.
  3. Find and tap an app you want to disable badges for.
  4. Under the Alerts section, switch off the Badges toggle.
  5. Tap Notifications up top to go back, then repeat steps 3 and 4 for for each app you want to fix.

Some apps, like Apple Books, may not have controllable badge options. This is rare, but usually not much of a problem.

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