How to Keep Your iPhone Silent Except for Specific Contacts

It’s a bit more detailed and confusing than it should be, so this guide will take you every single step of the way through creating a “contact group” – which will allow you to add one or more specific contacts that will not be muted when you set your iPhone to “Do Not Disturb” (silent mode). Here goes!

  1. First things first, you’re going to need to set up iCloud if you haven’t yet. Apple has great instructions on how to do it. If you’re thinking “oh no, not iCloud” – don’t worry. This is a “set it and forget it” thing. If you’ve already setup iCloud, jump to step #2.
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Scroll down to iCloud and tap it.
  4. Toggle Contacts to “ON” if it’s OFF
  5. Now launch your browser of choice, and visit https://www.icloud.com. If you’re prompted to sign in with your Apple ID and Password, do so.
  6. Locate Contacts and click it.
  7. What you’re going to do is create a new Group – which you can put certain contacts ‘into’, and contacts in that Group will always cause your phone to ring/vibrate, even when set to “Do Not Disturb”.

    Click the “plus sign” ( + ) in the bottom corner of the iCloud Contacts menu.

  8. Select New Group
  9. Give your “group” a name. I opted for Family, since the people I will be putting in my “always ring” list are family members.
  10. Now simply “drag and drop” names from your Contact List into your new group (see screenshot below).
  11. Back on your iPhone, launch the Contacts app again, and tap Groups from the top left corner.
  12. In the iCloud section, make sure your new Group is selected.
  13. Now return to the iPhone Settings and tap the Do Not Disturb setting.
  14. Tap the Allow Calls From option.
  15. Select your newly created group, and only your newly created group.
  16. Back in the Do Not Disturb settings, you may want to toggle Repeated Calls to OFF. Sometimes coworkers think that the end of the world is approaching, and it’s not.
  17. That’s it – you’re done! Now you can enable Do Not Disturb at night (or in meetings, on dates, whatever) – and your really important contacts will still be able to reach you.
{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Vishal Raj October 27, 2016, 7:59 am

    There is no need to follow all of the above long and confusing instructions… If you need a call from a specific contact… Open Contacts and open the contact card of the specific contact… tap edit… tap on Ringtones and in the selection window… scroll to the top of the list and enable the option, “Emergency Bypass” this will enable ringtone for this contact even though the phone is in silent.

  • Ross McKillop October 27, 2016, 4:27 pm

    Great tip!!!

  • RainShines November 14, 2016, 6:01 pm

    Thank you! This is really helpful.

  • Ray February 15, 2017, 6:33 pm

    Much easier.. and this can be used for text messages as well, something the blog post doesn’t mention, but was important to me.

  • Gillian Moore July 15, 2017, 7:15 pm

    “Do not disturb” does not always get read. Moreover it may make the caller insist and does NOT set phone on SILENT alert.

  • Jason Patz August 18, 2018, 4:24 am

    Vishal Raj has the best answer. My wife has her phone set to be silent all the time. She went in and edited my contact and now can hear when I call or text her. Marital harmony remains intact! Thanks Vishal!

  • Chrissy April 9, 2019, 5:08 pm

    I was looking for a way to always allow calls from my husband while on do not disturb and you made it so easy! Thank you!

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