How to Set Up the iPhone LED Flash for Alerts

I've mentioned in a previous article here on TMO, "How to Set & Use 'Do Not Disturb' in iOS 6," that I'm a big fan of all types of beeps, bells, buzzes and bings from notifications generated by apps and services on my iPhone. Along with my iPad, I am like Professor Paddywack's One-Man Band, and a real joy to be with.

In addition to the cacophony of alerts, I have my iPhone 5 light up like the fourth of July when I am sent any of several types of iOS notifications, including phone and FaceTime calls and text messages. This is a little-known feature, available on the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, that allows the use of the LED that's intended for flash photography. It's an additional, but optional method the device uses to notify you, and everyone around you, that your attention – and theirs –  is required.

A closeup of the iPhone LED flash.

The iPhone's LED flash is very bright and visible from quite a distance.

Our iOS devices – and, come to think of it, our Macs – offer a number of effective and innovative assistive technology features. These are not just for those folks whose needs they are intended to address.  Anyone can take advantage of Accessibility settings, and several are quite useful. The ability to use the LED flash as a signaling device is just such an accessibility feature designed primarily for the hearing impaired.


A simple on/off is all you need to control this feature.

Allow me to shed some light on how simple it is to set up this feature on your iPhone 4, 4S or 5. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility, then scroll down to the "Hearing" section. There, you will see the on/off switch called "LED Flash for Alerts."

That's all there is to it!

Aside from letting me be just plain obnoxious, I do put this feature to practical use. As originally intended, it allows me to be visually alerted at times when I would not be able to hear an audible alert. Examples include working in high-noise environments or when listening to music with headphones.

Be sure to check out the other features found in the Accessibility preferences of your devices and your Mac. You'll find many to be quite useful for your regular computing and communicating needs.