How to Automatically Dial an Extension on the iPhone

Embedded pauses help you deal with phone-tree insanity

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Thanks to this not-very-well-known feature of the iPhone's Phone app, you can program phone extensions for the contacts stored on your iPhone to include the keypresses that automatically respond to phone-tree prompts.

Use this trick to dial into conference calls, too.

These procedures work for all currently supported versions of iOS. This is possible on an Android phone as well, but the process is different.

How to Save Phone Extensions in Your iPhone Contacts

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Open a contact then tap the Edit button.

  2. Tap the the relevant phone number type to add or modify.

  3. When you reach the point where you'd ordinarily wait for a phone-tree prompt, tap the +*# button at the bottom left of the screen.

  4. A set of new options will appear on the screen. Make sure the cursor is at the end of the phone number (with no space after the phone number) and then tap Pause. You'll see a comma. Continue the remainder of the dialing sequence.

    phone contact
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

Phone systems treat the comma that you added to the phone number as a pause. This means that your phone calls the main phone number waits a short time (for the phone system to offer you options), and then dials the extension automatically.

Tips for Automatically Dialing Extensions on the iPhone

If the options are spoken more slowly and you want to add extra time before your iPhone dials the extension to make sure the phone system sends you to the right place, add more than one pause to the number. Just tap the Pause button two or three times. Add as many pauses as you need to match the timing of the phone system.

If you don't know how long the pauses should be, or if the phone system has different wait times at different stages, add a different kind of pause by using Wait instead of pause. When you call the phone tree system and it reaches the Wait symbol (a semicolon instead of a comma), tap the dial button again to dial the extension saved in the contact. This technique isn't quite as good as having it dialed automatically, but at least you don't have to remember it and won't end up in the wrong part of the phone system.