How to Use Do Not Disturb on iPhone and Apple Watch

Don't bother me, Apple, unless I want you to

Do Not Disturb on iPhone and Apple Watch
image credit Adri Berger/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Our smartphones connect us to the rest of the world practically non-stop. But we don't always want to be connected. The iPhone's Do Not Disturb feature solves this problem, while still letting you hear from the people you're most interested in or be reached in an emergency.

What Does Do Not Disturb Do?

If you don't want to be bothered by your smartphone, you can turn it off, but then no one can reach you.

Do Not Disturb, a setting modification what Apple introduced in iOS 6, gives you much greater control over who can contact you and when. Do Not Disturb offers the following features:

  • Silence incoming calls, text messages, or push notifications. You still receive them, so you can check your voicemail or texts later and find them, but your phone won't make noise, vibrate, or light up the screen
  • Schedule a time for Do Not Disturb to be on (while you sleep, for instance) or set it manually
  • Allow a select set of contacts, such as your Favorites, to contact you even while Do Not Disturb is on in case of emergencies
  • If the same phone number calls you twice in a three-minute span, let it through.

How to Use Do Not Disturb on iPhone

Using Do Not Disturb on the iPhone requires just a few taps:

  1. Tap the Settings app to launch it
  2. Tap Do Not Disturb
  3. Move the Manual slider to on/green.

Shortcut: You can also enable Do Not Disturb using Control Center.

Just swipe up from the bottom of your phone's screen to reveal Control Center and tap the moon icon to turn Do Not Disturb on.

Do Not Disturb While Driving in iOS 11

If you're running iOS 11 or higher on your iPhone, Do Not Disturb adds a new layer of privacy and security: it works while you're driving.

Distracted driving is the cause of many accidents and getting a text while behind the wheel can definitely be disturbing. This feature helps address that. With it enabled, you won't receive notifications while you're driving that could tempt you to look away from the road. Here's how to use it:

  1. Go to the Do Not Disturb screen in Settings
  2. Tap the Do Not Disturb While Driving menu to set when the feature is enabled:
    1. Automatically—Any time your phone detects a certain amount and speed of motion that makes it think you're in a car, it will enable the feature. This is subject to mistakes, though, since you could be a passenger, or on a bus or train.
    2. When Connected to Car Bluetooth—If your phone connects to the Bluetooth in your car when this setting is enabled, Do Not Disturb is turned on.
    3. Manually—Add the option to Control Center and you can enable Do Not Disturb While Driving manually. More on that in a minute.
  3. Once you've made your choice, you can also choose what happens when you get calls or texts with the feature on. Tap Auto-Reply To and choose whether your phone should automatically reply to No One, Recent contacts, ​Favorites from your Phone app, or All Contacts.
  4. Then choose the Auto-Reply message people trying to reach you receive. Tap the message to edit it if you want. (Favorites can still get through to you if they text "urgent" in response to your Auto-Reply message.)

    To add a shortcut to Control Center to toggle Do Not Disturb While Driving on and off, follow these steps:

    1. Tap Settings.
    2. Tap Control Center.
    3. Tap Customize Controls.
    4. Tap the + next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.

    Now, whenever you open Control Center, a car icon at the bottom of the screen controls the feature.

    Scheduling Do Not Disturb on iPhone

    The previous set of steps enables the feature right away. Do Not Disturb is most useful when you schedule when it turns on and off. To do that:

    1. Tap the Settings app
    2. Tap Do Not Disturb
    3. Move the Scheduled slider to green
    4. Tap the From/To box. Move the wheels to set the time at which you want the feature turned on and when you want it to turn off. After selecting the times you want, tap the Do Not Disturb menu in the top left corner to return to the main screen. You can now configure the feature's settings.

      Customizing Your Do Not Disturb Settings

      The options that Do Not Disturb provides are:

      • Allow Calls From—To let some calls through while the feature is enabled, tap this menu and then tap the contact groups you'll accept calls from. The simplest option is choosing Favorites, but you can also choose any other contact groups in your address book. Contact groups can't be created on the iPhone, so if you want to create a custom contact group for Do Not Disturb, make it in your desktop address book program (such as Address Book on Mac or Outlook on Windows) and then sync it to your iPhone
      • Repeated Calls—You don't want your settings to block someone from reaching you during an emergency. Slide Repeated Calls to On/green and when the same number calls twice in three minutes, the call will come through whether or not the person is on your allowed list.
      • Silence—Choose the situation in which Do Not Disturb enforces silence: either Always or Only while iPhone is locked.

      How to Tell If Do Not Disturb Is Enabled

      Want to know if Do Not Disturb is enabled without digging into the Settings app? Just check out the right corner of the menu bar at the top of the iPhone's screen. If Do Not Disturb is running, there's a crescent moon icon between the time and the battery icon.

      Using Do Not Disturb on Apple Watch

      Since the Apple Watch is an extension of the iPhone, it can receive and place phone calls, and receive and send text messages. Luckily, the Apple Watch supports Do Not Disturb, too, so you don't have to worry about your Watch bothering you even when your phone is silent. There are two ways to control Do Not Disturb on the Watch:

      • Default Settings—By default, the Apple Watch obeys the same Do No Disturb settings as your iPhone, including scheduling. You can't change this on the Watch. If you want different settings, change them on your phone
      • Manually—If you want to manually turn Do Not Disturb on for your Watch, follow these steps:
        1. Swipe up from the bottom of the Watch screen to open Glances
        2. In watchOS 1 and 2, swipe left to right until you get to the first Glance, which includes icons for AirPlay and Airplane Mode. If you're running watchOS 3, skip to step 3
        3. Tap the moon icon for Do Not Disturb.