How to Silence Unknown Callers on an iPhone

Stop nearly all the calls from people not in your contacts list

What to Know

  • Apple added a Silence Unknown Callers feature in iOS 13 and subsequent versions of the operating system.
  • Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers then tap Silence Unknown Callers again to turn the feature on (green is on, gray is off).
  • If you place an emergency call, the Silence Unknown Callers feature will be disabled for 24 hours to allow for callbacks to your phone.

This article provides instructions and information for using the Silence Uknown Callers feature available on iPhones running iOS 13 and later.

How Do You Silence an Unknown Number?

Starting in iOS 13, Apple added a feature to iPhones which allows you to stop unknown calls from coming through. The 'Unknown Caller' ID is often used by telemarketers and spammers to try to reach you, and if you get a lot of them, they can be annoying. Here's how to stop those calls before they even make your phone ring.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Phone. You may have to scroll down to find it.

    Screenshots showing how to get to Phone Settings on iPhone.
  3. Tap Silence Unknown Callers.

  4. This opens the Silence Unknown Callers screen, which provides some explanation about what it means to turn this feature on. Tap the slider next to Silence Unknown Callers to turn the feature on (green means the feature is active, gray means it is not).

    How to Silence Unknown Callers on iPhone.

Once you've enabled the Silence Unknown Callers feature, when someone using an unknown number calls your phone, the call will be sent directly to voicemail, and it will appear in your Recent Calls list, but your phone will not ring. So, the unknown caller can leave a voicemail, you just won't be disturbed by the incoming call.

In fact, your phone will only ring if the number calling you is in your contact list or if the incoming call is from a number you have recently called that is not in your contacts list. Siri might also have suggestions for answering calls not listed as contacts, based on information your Mail and Messages apps.

Some mobile phone carriers also have a feature called Silence Junk Callers. If you see that option available, you can toggle it on as well. This feature will silence calls that your service providers decides could be spam or potential fraud calls.

Limitations of the Silence Unknown Calls Feature on iPhone

One thing to keep in when you turn on the Silence Unknown Calls feature is it could severely limit the calls coming into your phone. If you don't have a caller listed in your contacts, it's unlikely they'll get through to you. And while that sounds wonderful (especially if you receive a ton of spam calls), it could mean you miss important phone calls, like those from a doctor's office, an employer, or even a repair person or contractor.

If you know you're going to be receiving a call from a potentially unknown number, you can always go back into Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Calls and disable the feature until you receive the call you're waiting for.

  • How do I silence specific callers on an iPhone?

    There's no specific option to mute a contact's calls on iPhone. There is a workaround, however, where you'd set a custom silent ringtone for the contact you want to mute. First, go to the App Store and search for "silent ringtone" to download a silent ringtone app. Then, go to your Contacts list and select the contact whose calls you want to mute. Tap Edit, scroll to Ringtone, then select the silent ringtone you just added with the app. Be sure to set Vibration to None so that you won't be alerted to this contact's calls.

  • How do I block unknown callers on iPhone?

    You can use the Silence Unknown Callers feature described above to block unknown callers on your iPhone. If you'd like more blocking protection, visit the App Store and search for "block unknown callers." If you download RoboKiller, for example, you'll take advantage of a proprietary spam database of millions of numbers to stop spam and scam calls from ever reaching you. RoboKiller even sends these calls through to recorded messages called Answer Bots to further frustrate the scammer.

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