How to call someone who is using Do Not Disturb mode

November 5, 2016


Is there any way to tell if the person I’m trying to contact is using Do Not Disturb mode on their iPhone? And if so, is there any way to call someone who is using Do Not Disturb?

Do Not Disturb mode is a useful feature that was added to iOS back in 2012, as part of the iOS 6 update. When activated on an iPhone or iPad, manually or by schedule, it silences all incoming notifications, calls and similar so you don’t get woken up/distracted. Handy for nighttime or while you’re trying to get some work done.

It’s useful for the person using the mode, then, but what happens if you’re trying to get in touch with someone who’s using Do Not Disturb mode? Is there any way to tell if the person who isn’t picking up your calls is using Do Not Disturb? And if they are, is there any way to override Do Not Disturb and call them anyway?

In this article we answer all these questions and more.

How to tell if someone is using Do Not Disturb mode: What happens if you phone or text someone using Do Not Disturb?

We tested this feature by getting a colleague to turn on Do Not Disturb then calling and texting them.

When we called, we heard a single ring and were then put through to voicemail. (But our colleague’s phone didn’t actually ring, and they didn’t get any kind of audible or lit-screen notification. However, when they turned the screen back on manually they saw a ‘Missed Call’ notification, as well as the missed-call text alert specific to certain carriers.)


When we sent an iMessage, the message appeared to send normally. The text bubble displayed blue and the ‘Delivered’ notification showed.


(Again, our colleague didn’t get a notification, but when they turned the screen on they saw the message on the Lock screen.)

How to tell if someone is using Do Not Disturb mode: Are they blocking me instead?

The symptoms of Do Not Disturb and a full-on block are fairly similar, but the solutions are different: if someone has blocked you then it’s possible to mask your caller ID and this will bypass the block.

You can find out more in further articles: How to tell if someone has blocked you on iPhone and How to call someone who has blocked you on iPhone. And if you’re interested in finding out more about how the process works, here How to block someone on iPhone.

How to tell if someone is using Do Not Disturb mode: How do I know if I’m using Do Not Disturb?

A faint little crescent-moon icon appears in the top bar on your iPhone’s screen. On the righthand side, slightly to the left of the battery indicator.

(Try switching DND on and off, either in Settings > Do Not Disturb or by swiping up and using the Control Centre. You’ll see that the moon icon ‘waxes’ and ‘wanes’ in a very satisfying manner.)

How to tell if someone is using Do Not Disturb mode: How to call someone using Do Not Disturb

It’s useful to know that Do Not Disturb has some optional loopholes deliberately built in, so that people can allow calls through in emergencies. There are essentially three loopholes you may be able to exploit… er, I mean, use responsibly.

To explore these settings yourself, open the Settings app. Tap Do Not Disturb (bottom of the second group of categories). You’ll see that Do Not Disturb is a flexible tool that can be used in a variety of ways.


How to call someone using Do Not Disturb mode: Call again

By default, Do Not Disturb is set up to allow calls through if the same number calls again within three minutes – the idea is to ignore most calls but let through urgent ones. (My colleague Lewis thinks this should be increased to ten calls in two minutes so you really know it’s urgent…)

In other words, your first step if you suspect your friend is using Do Not Disturb should be to call again right away. If they’ve still got that default feature activated, you’ll break through the DND barrier. But be aware that, if your friend is using Do Not Disturb and if your call is essentially trivial in nature, they may be ticked off that you’ve pretended to have an emergency. I suppose you could feign ignorance and claim it was just coincidence that you called again so soon, but this is pretty shabby behaviour between mates.

How to call someone using Do Not Disturb mode: Call from a different phone

You can also tailor your Do Not Disturb mode by telling it to let some people through but not others. The default setting is to ‘Allow Calls From… No One’, but by tapping this you can set it to allow calls from Everyone, or Favourites, or only members of a particular group in your contacts.

Your friend is less likely to be using this feature because it’s deactivated by default; and even if they are, if you’re not in the favoured group there’s not all that much you can do about it.

However, if you’re a close friend of the contact but happen to have been calling from an old or borrowed phone, it might be worth calling again from your usual number. Or if you’re a somewhat close friend but a potentially closer mutual friend is with you, you could ask to borrow their phone or ask them to call for you. (The latter approach may seem deceptive if it turns out that they had blocked you.)

How to tell if someone is using Do Not Disturb mode: Call at a different time

Finally, Do Not Disturb can be and frequently is scheduled to activate at certain times of day (most commonly during the night, so as to avoid being disturbed by texts and phone calls from night-owl mates, wicket alerts from cricket matches on the other side of the world etc). To set this up for yourself, tap the slider next Scheduled and choose a From and To time for DND to switch on and turn off.

If your friend or contact is using Do Not Disturb on a schedule – or, for that matter, if they’re using Do Not Disturb manually because of temporary circumstances – you may be able to get through if you call again at a different time. This is particularly likely to be the case if you’re calling at an antisocial time, or if you know your friend is doing important work, at an important social event or otherwise likely to be refusing calls. (Perhaps you shouldn’t call at those times anyway?)

Call again in the morning or after the event has ended. Still can’t get through? You may have been blocked.

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