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What Does Do Not Disturb Do on iPhone & iPad?

Jonathan Wylie is a writer, educator and podcaster. You can hear the audio version of this article, and others, on the Unpacking iOS podcast

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We all need our rest. However, the super computers in our pocket are incredibly addictive and we have a bad habit of checking them every time we hear a new notification. To help ensure you get the break you need, and avoid getting interrupted in the middle of the night or in an important meeting, Apple introduced Do Not Disturb. What does it do? It gives you the ability to silence calls, alerts and notifications for a set period of time so that you can focus on the task in hand. Here's how it works.

How to Turn on Do Not Disturb

To turn on Do Not Disturb, open the Settings app, tap Do Not Disturb and toggle the switch to turn it on. Alternatively, you can open Control Center and tap the crescent moon icon. Control Center is just a swipe away, so for most people this is quicker. On newer iOS devices you access Control Center by swiping down from the top right-hand corner. On older devices you swipe up from the home button.

When you enable Do Not Disturb, it will stay on until your turn it off again. However, if you press and hold on the Do Not Disturb icon in Control Center, (the crescent moon icon), you will see options to disable it automatically after one hour, later this evening, when you leave your current location, or even at the end of your current calendar event. The latter is especially useful if you are going in to a meeting at work and want to ensure that your phone stays silent for the duration of the meeting and returns to its normal state when you are done.

Press and hold the Do Not Disturb icon in Control Center for more options

Press and hold the Do Not Disturb icon in Control Center for more options

How to Schedule Do Not Disturb

If there is a particular time of the day that you will always use Do Not Disturb, you can schedule your iPhone or iPad to turn it on or off at specific times. Lots of people use the scheduling option at night when they are getting ready for bed and want to be sure that they get an uninterrupted sleep.

To set a schedule for Do Not Disturb go to Settings > Do Not Disturb and turn on the toggle next to Scheduled. Next choose a time that you want Do Not Disturb to begin and end. Once you have that taken care of, Do Not Disturb will automatically turn on and off every day at the times you chose.

For even more convenience, you can choose to enable Bedtime. You should see it as a toggle switch underneath your scheduled Do Not Disturb times. Once enabled the lock screen will dim during Do Not Disturb hours, calls will be silenced, and notifications will be sent to the Notification Center until your scheduled Do Not Disturb ends. The Bedtime options are particularly useful if you wake up in the middle of the night and grab your phone to check the time because the screen will not dazzle your eyes, and there will be no visible notifications to tempt you into unlocking your device and interrupting your sleep pattern.

Set a schedule for Do Not Disturb to get a better night's sleep!

Set a schedule for Do Not Disturb to get a better night's sleep!

How to Override Do Not Disturb

Of course, there are times when you will want to override your default Do Not Disturb settings. You may get an emergency call from a family member or your child's school could call you at work to let you know that they are unwell. For times like this, you can add exceptions that let you receive the alerts you need, even when Do Not Disturb is enabled.

By default, alarms that you set in the Clock app on your iPhone or iPad will still be heard during Do Not Disturb. This is useful if you have one set to wake you up in the morning. Alarms also override the mute switch and the volume controls, so they basically always go off whether you want them to or not.

In Settings > Do Not Disturb, you will see an option to silence calls and notifications. Here you can choose to always silence alerts, or only silence them when your iPhone is locked. The idea here is that if your device is unlocked and in use, you are probably okay with receiving calls or notifications. Otherwise, when your device is locked, and not in use, calls and notifications will be silent.

You will also see an option to allow calls from specific people. Tapping this option will let you select from Everyone, No One, or Favorites. If you choose Favorites, your iPhone will allow phone calls from people who are tagged as a Favorite in your Contacts app. To add a contact to your Favorites, open the Contacts app, tap on the contact you need, and then tap "Add to Favorites" at the bottom of the screen. This is perfect for family members and ensures you can still be contacted in emergencies.

Lastly, there is an option in Settings > Do Not Disturb for Repeated Calls. Once enabled, a second call from the same person within three minutes will automatically bypass Do Not Disturb, unless you turn this option off.

Allow phone calls in emergencies when Do Not Disturb is enabled

Allow phone calls in emergencies when Do Not Disturb is enabled

How to Use Do Not Disturb While Driving

Do Not Disturb can extend beyond business meetings and bedtime when you turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving. Once enabled, text messages are silenced and will not appear on your screen. Notifications are also silenced. Phone calls are allowed, but only when connected to Bluetooth or a hands free device. You can still use Maps to navigate and use turn by turn directions, but if you are a passenger in a car and you try to use your iPhone, you will need to tap the "I'm Not Driving" prompt to turn it off.

Your iPhone can be set to automatically activate Do Not Disturb when your iPhone is connected to the Bluetooth in your car, or when the sensors in your iPhone detect that you are driving. To activate Do Not Disturb While Driving, open the Settings app, tap Do Not Disturb and scroll down to Do Not Disturb While Driving. Tap this option to choose whether it should be enabled automatically, when connected to the Bluetooth in your car, or manually.

If you want to turn it on manually, you need to add it to your Control Center icons. Here's how to do that.

  1. Open Settings and tap Control Center
  2. Tap Customize Controls
  3. Tap the plus sign next to Do Not Disturb While Driving

When you have completed the steps above, you can open Control Center any time and tap the car icon to enable Do Not Disturb While Driving.

If you receive a text message while driving, your iPhone will automatically reply with a default message that says, "I'm driving with Do Not Disturb While Driving turned on. I'll see your messaged when I get where I am going." You can change this auto-reply by going to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Auto Reply.

If someone replies to your auto-reply text with the word "Urgent", all subsequent texts from that person will be available for you to read for the remainder of your journey. So, consider adding this information to your auto-reply if you think there could be times where you have to be contacted by text while driving.

Customize Do Not Disturb While Driving

Enable Do Not Disturb While Driving for Kids

Everyone wants their kids to be safe drivers, but at the same time, parents know that they don't always make the best choices. Thankfully, Apple has included the option to automatically enable Do Not Disturb While Driving on your child's iPhone. Once enabled, they will not be able to turn it off without a parental passcode. It uses a feature called Screen Time. Here's how to set it up.

  1. On your child's iPhone, go to Settings > Screen Time
  2. Tap Set Up Screen Time, tap Continue, then tap This is my child's device
  3. Work through the menus until you get to Content and Privacy
  4. Tap Continue and set a parental passcode
  5. Tap Content and Privacy Restrictions, then scroll down to make sure that Do Not Disturb While Driving is set to Allow

Learn more by reading, Screen Time and Parental Controls on iPhone and iPad.

How to Use Bedtime & Do Not Disturb

Another place where Do Not Disturb is used is in the Clock app. Apple has a feature called Bedtime, which is used to track your sleep habits and set wake-up alarms. You can set the time you would like to go to bed, as well as the time you would like to wake up. You will get reminders for when to go to bed, and there are a variety of unique, soothing alarms that can be set for specific days of the week.

When Bedtime is enabled, Do Not Disturb is automatically turned on. The lock screen will dim, calls will be silenced, and notifications will go to the Notification Center until your alarm goes off. Learn more about Bedtime in the video below.

How to set up Bedtime on iPhone

Poll: Do You Use Do Not Disturb?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jonathan Wylie

Comments

Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on July 03, 2019:

Try toggling Do Not Disturb While Driving off and then back on again to see if that clears it.

Damon on June 30, 2019:

After the first time of using Do Not Disturb While Driving in Automatically mode, I had to select “I’m Not Driving” to get back into the phone. After that DNDWD no longer works. Please help. I have tried this on 2 different phones and the same thing happened. One was an iPhone 6 and the other iPhone 7. Both are up to date with iOS 12.3.1.

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