Doug Behl and Ken Getz: Clear all notifications at once in iOS 10 |

Doug Behl and Ken Getz: Clear all notifications at once in iOS 10

Q: I use notifications a lot on my iPhone, and I end up with a lot of them on the screen concurrently. Most of the notifications I see are outdated, from days earlier in the week. I’d love to be able to get rid of them, so they don’t clutter my screen. Is there some fast way to remove the old notifications?

A: Swipe down on the screen on any modern iPhone, and you’ll see a list of all the recent notifications from all the apps that you’ve configured to send you notifications. To be honest, too many applications “want” to send you notifications, so unless you’re vigilant about configuring applications so that they don’t bug you to death, you’ll find your notifications screen is full of information you may or may not need to see. (To control which apps you allow to send notifications, and how those notifications appear, go to the Settings app, then select Notifications, and then for each application, toggle the Allow Notifications option. If you allow notifications for the app, you can also determine where you see the notifications, and what kind of notifications you see — banners or alerts.)

On every recent iPhone, you can easily clear all notifications from a specific day. Notifications are grouped in reverse order by date, starting with the current day. For each day, you can tap the Clear button next to the date, and all notifications for that date go away. You must repeat this action for each date, however—there has historically been no way to remove all the notifications.

Starting with iOS 10, for devices that support 3D Touch (iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus), you can “long press” on the Clear button, and you’ll see an option to delete all the notifications. It’s unclear why this is tied to 3D Touch only, and why the rest of us running iOS 10 can’t also do the same thing. In any case, it doesn’t work with older devices (we tried). As with many new features, Apple has limited the support to the latest devices. (Perhaps it’s a ploy to get us to upgrade the phones? Nah, they wouldn’t do that.)

What is the $WINDOWS.~BT folder, and Can I Delete it?

Q: In my attempts to clear some space from my nearly full Windows 10 hard drive, I turned on the display of hidden files. To my horror, I found a folder named $WINDOWS.~BT that’s huge! It takes up several gigabytes of space, and I certainly didn’t create this folder. What is it for? Can I delete it?

A: We’ve often suggested that readers look into replacing a spinning hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD) as a means of optimizing the computer’s performance. Because SSDs are normally smaller than hard drives, you need to be careful with the amount of space you’re using on the drive. At times, you may find that you need to do some housecleaning, removing files that you don’t need.

On a Windows computer, one of the easiest tools to use is the free tool, SpaceSniffer ( We previously recommended the free tool WinDirStat to help clear space, but that tool has been discontinued and is no longer supported. Given a tool like SpaceSniffer, you can see a visual representation of how much space your files are using, and it’s easy to “sniff out” large files and folders. Using this tool, you might run across the commonly found folder, $WINDOWS.~BT, which can be quite large.

If you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, this folder contains the installation files for Windows 10 that Microsoft surreptitiously downloaded for you, in case you decided to upgrade to Windows 10. At this point, because the free upgrade period has past, you’re generally unlikely to need these files. You can certainly remove the folder.

If you already upgraded to Windows 10, this folder contains your previous Windows installation. If you were to remove the folder, you wouldn’t be able to revert to your previous operating system or to a previous build of Windows 10. You may also find that the folder contains log files tracking certain application installation status. In general, Windows should delete this folder (and the similar Windows.old folder) after a period of time (10 days or a month, depending on how the folder got there in the first place).

If you want to delete the $WINDOWS.~BT folder, your best bet is to let Windows do the job for you. Start the Disk Cleanup tool (, and click “Clean Up System Files”. Select the following items to clean up Windows installation detritus: “Previous Windows Installation(s)” and “Temporary Windows Installation Files”. Click OK, and Windows will churn for a while, removing these files.

As with any other suggestion we would make, please back up your computer before making any changes like this!

Doug Behl and Ken Getz spent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Submit your own technical questions to

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