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How to make exceptions for the Do Not Disturb mode on your iPhone

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When you absolutely need to let that call through

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

When you’re watching a movie, in a meeting, or just feeling mellow, you may not want your phone to interrupt whatever you’re doing. That’s where Do Not Disturb settings come in. They temporarily stop calls from getting in the way.

However, sometimes life gets complicated. You may not want your phone to ring if just anyone is calling, but you also don’t want to miss a call from your kid, spouse, best friend, or pet sitter. No problem. Here’s how to get notified of calls and texts while in Do Not Disturb mode on your iPhone.

Get calls from a group of contacts

Since iOS 12, it’s been easy to make an exception for a group of contacts on the Do Not Disturb settings screens. To add a group:

  • Open Settings
  • Tap “Do Not Disturb”
  • Toggle Do Not Disturb to “on”
  • In the Phone section of the screen, tap “Allow Calls From”
  • You can choose to allow calls from Everyone, No One, or the contacts you’ve selected as Favorites. You can also make an exception for an existing Contacts group. (You can only create a Group using iCloud on your Mac.)

Get calls from individual contacts

If there’s an individual contact who you want to hear from, but they are not on your Favorites list, you can still make an exception to Do Not Disturb on a person-by-person basis.

  • Open Contacts
  • Select the entry for the person you want to bypass DND
  • Tap “Edit” in the card’s upper right corner
  • Scroll down to “Ringtone” and tap it
  • At the top of the next card, toggle Emergency Bypass to “on.” That allows calls from that person to bypass Do Not Disturb.
  • Before you tap “Done” to finish, stop and think for a moment. You might not want to miss a call, but if you don’t want to interrupt a meeting, you may want to set a more subtle ringtone or alert sound for that person than your usual ringtone.
  • You can also let texts from an individual bypass DND. Go back to the person’s Contact card, tap “Edit,” and tap “Text Tone.”
  • Toggle Emergency Bypass to “on.”
  • There’s one way that Text Tone differs from Ringtone: where calls require some kind of sound to be selected, you can turn off text alarm sounds completely, relying on just vibrations to notify you. (As always, you can select from an array of vibration patterns or create your own.)

Calls or messages from important individuals (even if they’re not marked as Favorites) will now get through to you, whether your Do Not Disturb is active or not.

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