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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Do you sometimes struggle to maintain focus while you're working, or find it difficult to unwind and relax at the end of the day? Believe it or not, your iPhone could help with that. Keep reading to learn how.


If you are looking to minimize distractions when you focus on something, or just want to zone out after a hard day's work, it's well worth checking out the Background Sounds feature on your iPhone or iPad. Whether you are at home or in a public place, you can play calming sounds with just a few taps on your device to help you concentrate or rest.

In iOS and iPadOS, Apple's Background Sounds include balanced, bright, and dark noise, as well as natural sounds like ocean, rain, and stream. All of the sounds can be set to play in the background to mask unwanted environmental or external noise, and the sounds mix into or duck under other audio and system sounds, so you don't have to drown out what's important to you.

Enable Background Sounds on iPhone and iPad

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Accessibility.
  3. Under "Hearing," tap Audio & Visual.

    Tap Background Sounds, then tap the switch to turn on Background Sounds on the next screen.
  4. Tap Sound to choose a sound effect. Choose from Balanced Noise, Bright Noise, Dark Noise, Ocean, Rain, and Stream.
Your device will need to download individual sound effects when you play them for the first time, so make sure you have an internet connection, but after that you can play the background sound wherever you are.

Note that the last screen in the steps optionally lets you set the volume of the sound, and includes an additional option to automatically stop the sound when you lock your device.

Accessibility Shortcut Access

Once you have downloaded the background sounds, you can quickly start and stop the audio via an Accessibility Shortcut. Here's how to set one up.
Set Up the Accessibility Shortcut

  1. Tap through to Settings ➝ Accessibility.
  2. Select Accessibility Shortcut near the bottom of the menu.
  3. Tap Background Sounds to select it. You can also drag the three lines icon at the far right to change the order in which it appears in the shortcuts menu.

You can triple click your iPhone's Side button to access the Accessibility Shortcut at any time. Alternatively, you can add an Accessibility Shortcut button to your device's Control Center in the following way.

Access Accessibility Shortcut

  1. Tap through to Settings ➝ Control Center.
  2. Find Accessibility Shortcuts under the "More Controls" list and then tap the entry to include it in Control Center.

Once that's done, swipe from the top-right corner of your screen to bring up Control Center, then simply tap Accessibility Shortcut button and then tap Background Sounds to turn the audio on or off.

Background sounds are also available on Macs running macOS Ventura or later. Check out our dedicated how-to article for all the details.

Article Link: Stay Focused or Chill Out With This Hidden iPhone Feature


macrumors regular
Jun 4, 2018
I wish they would bring over the Vision Pro environments for a spatial experience.

FWIW, I poked around the visionOS betas and the environments use flac files for the audio assets. Found it strange they didn’t go with ALAC or AIFF.
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macrumors 6502
Oct 9, 2023
Or just add Hearing to Control Center—I have mine positioned so that it’s right under the volume slider. As an added bonus it also lets you know if your music volume goes over 80 decibels when using headphones.


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macrumors 6502a
Nov 8, 2015
I use these every night to fall asleep or drown out other noises going on in the house.

For whatever reason though, the volume on it would randomly lower, or the sounds will just stop and start again at random times, usually if I'm tapping through different apps or something.


macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2011
Absolutely already doing this. 'Rain' really helps with getting on with coding.

also, because you always want more, i got Dark Noise, and later still, myNoise. Am coding to Irish Coast sounds right now.

usually sleep to brown noise.

And yes, all of this (the apple feature, and both apps) are on all of iphone, ipad and mac.


macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2011
Or just YouTube videos.
need to stay on line, hard to find ones that last all night, and there may be ads and sometimes the adblocker fails. Also you just want the *sound*. you don't want the static or nearly-static picture to be sitting on the OLED tv's screen all that time. (Not that the ad blocker works there, so doubly useless.)
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macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
These same backgrounds are also present on HomePods. I've turned the HomePod Mini next to my bed each night into a white noise machine to help sleep. I set up an automation that turns on "Ocean Sounds" every night when it's time for bed.

On my phone, I'm just as likely to open MyNoise (highly recommended), which has tons and tons of sounds, all of which are highly customizable. It even lets you layer sounds on top of one another, or even over sound from other apps.
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