How to Set Up and Use Do Not Disturb on iPhone and Apple Watch

Silence your iPhone while allowing in select calls and messages

The iPhone Do Not Disturb feature lets you get a break from interruptions, while still allowing the people you're most interested in contact you, such as in case of an emergency.

The Do Not Disturb function applies iOS 6 and newer and all versions of watchOS, including watchOS 6.

How the iPhone Do Not Disturb Feature Works

If you don't want to be bothered by your smartphone's notifications or incoming phone calls, you can turn each of these off, but then no one can reach you. Do Not Disturb, a feature that Apple introduced in iOS 6, gives you flexibility when silencing your phone's interruptions with the following features:

  • Incoming calls, text messages, and push notifications are silenced. You still receive them, so you can later check your voicemail and other notifications, but your phone won't make noise or vibrate and its screen won't light up.
  • Do Not Disturb can be scheduled to activate and deactivate automatically, such as at bedtime and in the morning when you wake, or you can activate it manually.
  • Important contacts, such as family members or your Favorites, can be given permission to contact you even while Do Not Disturb is active.
  • If a phone number attempts to call you twice within a three-minute span, Do Not Disturb will allow it through. This is useful in case of emergencies, for example.
  • Do Not Disturb can be set to activate while you're driving. It will block calls and texts to help ensure safety.

The Do Not Disturb tool works on iPad, as well. Apple split the operating system for iPhone and iPad with the dual release of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.

Set Up Do Not Disturb on an iPhone

Setting up Do Not Disturb on the iPhone requires just a few taps.

  1. Tap the Settings app to open it.

  2. Tap Do Not Disturb.

    Three iOS screens showing Settings app icon, Do Not Disturb button and Do Not Disturb toggle
  3. Turn on the Do Not Disturb toggle switch.

    You can also enable Do Not Disturb using Control Center. Swipe up from the bottom of the phone screen (or swipe down from the upper-right on iPhone X and later models) to open Control Center, then tap the moon icon to turn Do Not Disturb on.

Schedule Do Not Disturb Activation

Do Not Disturb can be scheduled to automatically activate and deactivate at times you specify.

  1. Tap the Settings app.

  2. Tap Do Not Disturb.

  3. Turn on the Scheduled toggle switch.

    Three iOS screens showing Do Not Disturb button, Scheduled toggle and Quiet Hours screen
  4. Tap the From box. Move the wheels to set the time at which you want the feature turned on.

  5. Tap the To box, and set when you want it to turn off.

Customize Your Do Not Disturb Settings

Tap Settings > Do Not Disturb to adjust the Do Not Disturb settings:

  • Silence: Choose the state in which Do Not Disturb will silence notifications and rings when it is activated, Always or only While iPhone is locked.
  • Allow Calls From: Allows some calls through while Do Not Disturb is enabled. You can choose from contact groups you created that will be allowed through. For example, select Favorites from your address book.

Custom Contact groups can't be created on the iPhone. To create one to use with Do Not Disturb on your iPhone, create it in your desktop Contacts app and sync it to your iPhone.

  • Repeated Calls: Slide to ON so that when the same number calls twice within three minutes, the call will come through even if the person is not on a selected Allow Calls From contact list.

How to Check If Do Not Disturb Is Enabled

Check the upper-right corner of the iPhone screen. If Do Not Disturb is running, a crescent moon icon displays. On iPhone X, this icon won't display here (there is limited space there on this model). Instead, open Control Center with a downward swipe from the upper-right corner to see if it is active.

Do Not Disturb on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch can receive and place phone calls and text messages, and it supports Do Not Disturb. There are two ways to control Do Not Disturb on the Watch: the default settings and manually. By default, the Apple Watch is set to the same Do Not Disturb preferences you set on your iPhone, including scheduling. You can't change these on the Apple Watch.

Do Not Disturb moon icon on Apple Watch

To manually activate Do Not Disturb on your Watch, swipe up from the bottom of the Apple Watch screen to open Glances.

In watchOS 1 and 2, swipe left to right until you get to the first Glance, which includes icons for AirPlay and Airplane Mode.

Tap the moon icon for Do Not Disturb. You can select the following durations for Do Not Disturb on your watch:

  • On turns it on indefinitely.
  • On for 1 hour starts a one hour period for Do Not Disturb to be active.
  • On until this evening will deactivate Do Not Disturb later in the day.
  • On until I leave uses your current location, and when the watch detects that you have left the location, it deactivates Do Not Disturb.

Do Not Disturb While Driving

If iOS 11 or higher is on your iPhone, Do Not Disturb adds a new layer of privacy and security while driving to prevent distracted driving. With Do Not Disturb While Driving enabled, you won't receive notifications while you're driving that could tempt you to look away from the road.

Activate Do Not Disturb While Driving by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings > Do Not Disturb.

  2. In the Do Not Disturb While Driving section, tap Activate and select when the feature is activated.

    • Automatically: If your phone detects an amount and speed of motion that makes it think you're in a car, it enables the feature. This is subject to mistakes, though, since you could be a passenger, or on a bus or train.
    • When Connected to Car Bluetooth: If your phone connects to the Bluetooth in your car, when this setting is enabled, Do Not Disturb activates automatically until disconnected again.
    • Manually: Adds the option to Control Center so you can enable Do Not Disturb While Driving manually.
  3. Return to the Do Not Disturb menu, then tap Auto-Reply To.

  4. Select who will receive the automatic reply when a message is received while Do Not Disturb While Driving is active. You can select No One, Recent contacts, Favorites, or All Contacts.

  5. On the Do Not Disturb menu, tap Auto-Reply. Then, set the message sent to those trying to reach you.

    Those contacts in your Favorites can get a message through to you if they text the word "urgent" in response to your Auto-Reply message.

    Three iOS screens showing Do Not Disturb while Driving Manually, checkmark, Auto-Reply

Add Do Not Disturb While Driving to Control Center

Follow these steps to add a convenient shortcut in Control Center that lets you quickly toggle Do Not Disturb While Driving on and off.

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Control Center.

  3. Tap Customize Controls.

    Three iOS screens showing Control Center, Customize Controls and green plus button to add Do Not Disturb While Driving to Control Center
  4. Tap the green + next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.

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