Difference between Do Not Disturb and the iPhone Silent Switch

Difference between Do Not Disturb and the iPhone Silent Switch

Many iPhone users know to flip the Ring/Silent switch on their iPhone to silence incoming calls. Many people also use Do Not Disturb at night while they are sleeping, but what do these features do differently? In this article we will explain the differences as well as go into exactly what gets silenced when using each of these features.

The Differences

We’ll go into details below about how to enable and use both the Do Not Disturb and the Ring/Silent switch features, but first we’ll give a quick overview of the differences:

  • The Ring/Silent switch is the easiest to turn on or off, so its really the best if you find yourself somewhere your phone shouldn’t be ringing, like a meeting.
  • Do Not Disturb can be scheduled, so it’s good for nighttime.
    • Do Not Disturb can dim the Lock Screen and send notifications to the Notification Center during scheduled Do Not Disturb time.
  • Do Not Disturb can be customized, to some extent.

Note: Alarms set using the Clock app will still ring when your iPhone is in Do Not Disturb mode or Silent Mode.

Do Not Disturb

You can use Do Not Disturb to silence calls, alerts and notifications.

Turn Do Not Disturb On or Off

There are two ways to turn Do Not Disturb on or off:

  1. Go to Control Center on your iPhone or iPad:
    1. If you have a Home button on your device, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. If you don’t have a Home button, swipe down from the upper-right corner of your screen.
    2. Tap on the crescent moon icon to turn it on or off.
  2. Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb then toggle the switch next to Do Not Disturb to the ON position.

Do Not Disturb Settings

You can access the Do Not Disturb settings by either going to Control Center and pressing (not just tapping) the crescent moon icon, or by going to Settings > Do Not Disturb. In the settings menu, you can:

  • Create a scheduled time for Do Not Disturb, for example, you can set your iPhone to Do Not Disturb while you sleep at night.
  • Choose whether calls and notifications will always be silenced, or just while your phone is locked.
  • Allow calls from:
    • Everyone
    • Your Favorites
    • Everyone in your contacts
    • No one
  • Allow repeated calls to ring. So if someone really needs to talk to you, they can call again and get through.
  • Choose to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb while you are driving. This works a little differently than the regular Do Not Disturb in that calls can be allowed, if connected to your car via Bluetooth, but text messages don’t come through. This feature is probably the most useful for those who don’t have CarPlay.

The Ring/Silent Switch

The Ring/Silent switch is located on the left side of your iPhone. Your iPhone is in Silent mode when you see the orange bar on the switch; it’s in Ring mode when you don’t.

Ring Mode

In Ring mode you can hear:

  • Ringtones
  • Alerts
  • Other sounds – music, video, etc.

Silent Mode

In Silent Mode you only hear:

  • Other sounds – music, video, etc.

In Silent Mode you don’t hear ringtones and alerts.


When your calls are being silenced, your iPhone may still vibrate. Depending on where your phone is located, this can be disruptive. To turn this off, go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics and toggle the switch next to Vibrate on Silent.

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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