How to Set & Use "Do Not Disturb" in iOS 6

I confess… I am a ringtone and notification junkie! I have custom sounds that resonate when any of my contacts phone or text me. I have dozens of apps that include built-in sounds as part of their notification features. I have sounds for incoming news bulletins, weather alerts, package delivery alerts, time-to-pay-the-mortgage alerts, low bank balance alerts, my-new-iPad-mini-has-arrived-in-Anchorage alerts…I could go on and on.

If the sounds weren't enough, I also have vibrations enabled on my iPhone. And don't get me started on the camera flash LED that blinks along with the audible alerts. I walk around with my breast pocket lighting up like a Christmas tree and firing off alerts like an emergency annunciator, and, to top it all off, I get a nice massage.

Problem is; I have so many different beeps, rings, pops, and buzzes that I no longer remember what each means. But that's another story for another time. For now, I want to tell you about a great way to stop all this—even if temporarily.

The Do Not Disturb control in Settings.

Do Not Disturb is located in Settings.

Of all the great new features in the recently released iOS 6, my favorite has to be Do Not Disturb. It provides dual functionality. First, it lets you silence - on demand - all calls, alerts, and notifications. Secondly, it lets you establish a time period when you do not want to be disturbed so that you and others (like my wife and goldfish)…well, won't be disturbed.

A very small number of apps incorporate this feature internally, but now it's available as part of iOS. Let's examine how to enable and use the new Do Not Disturb feature in iOS 6 installed on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

First, a caveat for you: The Do Not Disturb feature does not silence an alarm set in Apple's Clock app! This is actually a desirable feature, but be aware of it.

To enable Do Not Disturb, tap Settings. You will find the new Do Not Disturb control near the top. This is pretty straightforward. When the switch is set to ON, and the device is locked, all sound alerts, vibrations, phone rings, LED alerts, and screen wake with alerts are all disabled. Simply put, your device will do nothing to disturb your peace. 

The Settings pane showing the Do Not Disturb control.

The new Do Not Disturb control is located in Settings.

There are two exceptions. The first, as mentioned before, an alarm set via Apple's Clock will go off. Also, there are settings that will allow certain incoming calls to ring. I'll cover this aspect shortly.

Now, let's look at your other options. Just below the Do Not Disturb control, tap Notifications. This puts you into the Notifications Center. Next, tap on Do Not Disturb to take you to that feature's settings pane.

The Notifications Panel leads to additional Do Not Disturb settings.

The Notifications Panel leads to additional Do Not Disturb settings.

There are three settings you can configure here.

First, tapping on the Scheduled on/off switch will allow you to set a range of time when you do not wish to be disturbed—all calls and alerts are silenced. Incoming calls are sent to voicemail. Notifications will accumulate, without activating the screen, for you to peruse later. In the illustration, you can see that my quiet hours are between 12:30 AM and 6:30 AM.

Next, there is a control called Allow Calls From where you can choose between "Everyone," "No One," or "Favorites." You also have the option of allowing calls only from any of your contacts, or only from members of specific groups configured in your Contacts app.

This means that you can create a special group of contacts for the purpose of allowing their calls through during the Do Not Disturb period.  The Favorites listed in the top section refers to the Favorites list of contacts that you configure in the Phone app.

You may be wondering how things differ on the iPad and iPod touch since phone ring issues don't apply. On these devices the Do Not Disturb controls govern the use of FaceTime as well as all other alerts.

Finally, back in the Do Not Disturb settings, you'll see a Repeated Calls switch. When this switch is ON, a second call from the same person within three minutes will ring. This accommodates emergency situations where someone is calling you repeatedly until you pick up the call.

I suggest you don't advertise this to your contacts. There's always that one goofy uncle who, armed with that knowledge, will surely pester you with calls at all hours. (Heh, heh… I'm the goofy uncle in my family!)

Keep in mind that the ad-hoc Do Not Disturb switch at the top page of Settings is completely independent of the second set of Do Not Control settings. It is NOT a master switch. In other words, the settings for Scheduled, Allow Calls From, and Repeated Calls will prevail, no matter what.

The Status Bar shows a quarter-moon indicating that Do Not Disturb is enabled.

If you see the quarter-moon in the screen's status bar, Do Not Disturb is enabled.

I almost forgot to tell you that you can quickly view the status of your Do Not Disturb setting. When it's enabled, an icon depicting a quarter-moon will appear to the left of the current time in the status bar at the top of the screen.

In conclusion, I'm sure you'll agree with me that Do Not Disturb is an awesome new feature. Be careful, though. All bets are off when you are actively working on your device or its otherwise unlocked while Do Not Disturb is enabled. All alerts will activate until you lock the device. You could use the Ring/Silent switch, but that still lets vibrations through. Setting the device in Airplane Mode doesn't prevent local app alerts from sounding. And—as if I haven't stressed this enough—clock alarms will ring when your device is in Do Not Disturb mode and/or Silent mode enabled via the Ring/Silent switch.