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A while ago I made a decision to enable Do Not Disturb mode on my iPhone as a default. What I mean by “as a default” is that I don’t turn it on only at bedtime or only when I’m delivering training, instead I have it turned on most of the time.

I’ve done this because I’ve been receiving too many unwanted calls, mainly from companies trying to sell me insurance and offer me compensation for a not-my-fault minor car accident in 2011. Yes I know I can block the numbers but it’s too late after the event. (Post updated Dec 2020 – scroll to the end for details)

The problem with this scenario of course is that there are people that I want to talk to when Do Not Disturb is enabled. Initially I used the option “Allow Calls From Favourites” which can be found in the Do Not Disturb settings however then I decided that the people I wanted to talk to weren’t necessarily the people I wanted in my Favourites list.

So instead I created a contacts group called “DND Exceptions” and added a few of my contacts into it. Now if someone calls and they are a member of that group, the phone will ring/vibrate.

It’s worth noting here that you can’t create and manage groups and group membership via the Contacts app on the iPhone. You either have to do it using the Contacts app on the Mac (ensuring that it and the Contacts app on the iPhone are syncing to the same iCloud account) or login to in a browser.

Using on a computer (Mac or PC) is fine but what if you only have an iPhone to hand? Opening Safari or Chrome and navigating to displays a screen with the following 3 options: Set up iCloud on this device, Open Find My iPhone, Open Find My Friends

To login to icloud you need to request the desktop site. In Chrome tap on the 3 dots icon at the top right of the screen to display a menu. Towards the bottom of the menu is “Request Desktop Site”. Tapping on this option displays the regular website. In Safari, tap the Share icon at the bottom of the screen and swipe to the left until you find the Request Desktop Site button.

At this point I thought I was sorted…until I received a phone call from Elaine (who is in my DND Exceptions group) asking my why I was ignoring her texts. When I looked at the Messages app, there was indeed a text message from Elaine however the iPhone had not notified me when it arrived. It turns out that the Allow Calls From relates to phone calls only. It does not extend to text messages.

There is a way to resolve this, using a feature in iOS 10 called Emergency Bypass which lets you pick which notifications (calls or texts) get through to you from a specific contact while DND mode is active. It will also bypass silent mode.

  • Open the Contacts app on the iPhone
  • Tap on the name of the contact whose text messages you want to receive when in DND mode
  • Tap Edit at the top right of the screen
  • Tap Text Tone
  • Swipe the Emergency Bypass switch (at the top of the screen) to ON

Silence Unkown Callers

I recently discovered this feature even though it’s been around for over 12 months (it came with iOS 13. With the feature enabled, the only time an incoming call will make your iPhone ring is if the phone number is found in your Contacts, recent outgoing calls, or is a Siri suggestion (sourced from the Mail or Messages apps). Any other calls will go straight to voicemail.

To enable Silence Unknown Callers, open the Settings app on your iPhone. Tap Phone and scroll down until you find Silence Unknown Callers and slide the switch to the ON position.