Group chats are great, and iMessage is pretty great. But getting a notification for every single message is a bit much for me. Thankfully, I found a way to participate in more group chats and get alerts just for the really important stuff.

Step 1: Hide alerts

In any group iMessage chat, tap the top icon, then the (i) info button. Scroll down, then enable Hide Alerts. This prevents push notifications for every ‘lol’ and side conversations that don’t involve you.

Step 2: Use mentions

Yep, iMessage supports mentions now. You don’t even need an @. Just type the first name of someone in the group chat, and iMessage will turn it gray. Tap their name, confirm the person you want to mention, and they’ll get a notification. Next, simply convince all your friends to get on board.

I think this is a great balance for hiding alerts for every message, but still getting notified when it’s important.

Just in case you don’t want even these alerts, you can disable them for all conversations in Settings > Messages. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to do this per-conversation.

Step 3 (Optional): Use threads

Threads also arrived in iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur. Visually, they look and work a little differently than Slack’s implementation. But they’re still a good way to have a cohesive side conversation in a group chat, or simply create a connected trail.

To start a thread in a group chat, tap or click and hold on a message as if you wanted to add a reaction or copy it. One of the options is to reply. Tap that and the rest of the conversation blurs out, presenting just that message and a text box.

Once you tap send, your reply appears inline for everyone to see, but with a visual line and small preview of the original message. Tap that, and you can see the full thread.

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