Android and iOS have a setting to mute alerts, calls and notifications when you need some peace and quiet, but you can still let important calls ring through.

J. D. Biersdorfer
  • July 27, 2018

Q. I like the concept of the Do Not Disturb feature on my phone, but I’m afraid I’ll miss an emergency call from a family member. Is there a way to allow calls from specific people?

A. The Do Not Disturb feature, found in slightly different variations on Android and iOS devices, mutes calls, notifications and alerts so you can have some peace — but you can adjust the settings to let calls from certain people through the temporary wall of silence. You just need to make sure the people you want to hear from at any hour are on your list of favorite contacts.

Both Android, left, and iOS include settings to allow calls from favorite contacts to ring through when the device’s Do Not Disturb feature is enabled.CreditThe New York Times

The Android settings vary by version and device, but you can usually get to the Do Not Disturb controls by swiping down from the top of the screen to the Quick Settings box. Tap the Do Not Disturb icon, and then tap More Settings. Select the Priority Only Allows option, and on the next screen tap Calls.

Here, you can choose to allow calls from the people you have “starred” in the Contacts app, like family and close friends. (To add a star to a contact, just open the person’s card in the Contacts app and tap the star icon on the top-right side of the screen.) The Priority settings screen also gives you the option to allow a call to go through if the same person calls twice within 15 minutes.

On an iOS device, go to the home screen, open the Settings app and select Do Not Disturb. On the Do Not Disturb screen, scroll down to the Phone area, tap Allow Calls From and select Favorites. If you haven’t designated any favored contacts, open the person’s entry in the Contacts app and tap Add to Favorites. Back on the Do Not Disturb settings screen, you can also tap on the Repeated Calls button to allow a second call from the same person within three minutes.

In later versions of the iOS software, you can let specified numbers through when Do Not Disturb is enabled, even if those contacts are not on your Favorites list. Just open the contact card, tap the Edit button in the upper-right corner, select Ringtone and turn on the button next to Emergency Bypass. Tap Done.

Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

J.D. Biersdorfer has been answering technology questions — in print, on the web, in audio and in video — since 1998. She also writes the Sunday Book Review’s “Applied Reading” column on ebooks and literary apps, among other things. @jdbiersdorfer


Orignially published in NYT.

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