How to Automatically Dial an Extension on the iPhone

Embedded pauses help you deal with phone-tree insanity

With this not-very-well-known feature of the iPhone 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 Edit.

  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 (located in the lower-left corner of the screen).

  4. A set of new options appears on the screen. Place the cursor is at the end of the phone number (with no space after the phone number), then tap Pause. You'll see a comma.

    Adding an extension to a phone number on iPhone
  5. Continue the remainder of the dialing sequence.

  6. Tap Done to save your changes.

    Adding an extension to a phone number on iPhone

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), 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. 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 to dial the extension saved in the contact. This technique isn't quite as good as having it dialed automatically, but you don't have to remember it and won't end up in the wrong part of the phone system.