Daily tip: How to automatically dial an extension on iPhone

iOS 4.3 features: New wait button on add contact keyboard

Trying to figure out how to automatically dial an extension on your iPhone? If you're anything like me, you have quite a few friends and colleagues that have extensions to their phone numbers. Luckily, Apple built this feature right into iOS, and the last update made it even easier!

As we all know, you'll typically have to listen to some type of message or wait for the answering service to pick up before you can dial. Inserting a pause will allow the phone time to connect the call, then it will dial the extension. If you really want to, you could also add a few additional pauses if you'd like.

  • Open your iPhone address book and click edit on the contact you'd like to add an extension to.
  • Tap the phone number you'd like to edit and the dial pad should pop up like the picture below

  • After you've entered the regular phone number, tap the +*# key
  • Tap Pause and you'll see a comma is inserted after the number (you may insert more than one pause if you'd like the iPhone to wait a bit longer before dialing the extension)
  • Type in the extension number and tap done

Bonus tip: If you tap Wait instead of Pause, you'll get a hard break -- shown with a semicolon -- which means you need to hit the Dial button again for it to continue. This is handy if you don't know how long you'll need to pause for ahead of time.

You're done! Your iPhone now dials extensions on its own without you ever having to remember one again! If any of you try this, let us know how it worked for you in the comments!

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Daily tip: How to automatically dial an extension on iPhone


This used to work on my OLD Verizon phones too. I use the ,, (2 commas) to give the recording a chance to start and then dial the extension. Good tip.

I like the way Blackberry does it better. It dials the main number then pops up a little box that waits for you to click on. That way you can wait the proper amount of time for the recording to start and then dial the extension. Every recording is different so you are constantly futzing with 1 comma, 4 commas, rats, maybe 3 commas will work. Nuts....

Tap Wait instead of Pause and iPhone will wait for you to tap Dial again before entering the extra digits. (In the iOS 4.3 update)

Yup! You are correct! Sorry for the noise. I had Googled this the other day and that article did not mention it. So when this one came out I just skimmed it.
For the record I have an iPhone and switched from a Blackberry and do not intend on going back. But no matter how much I love it, it is not perfect. Yet.....

Excellent! I'm still fairly new to the iPhone, and this is just what I've been looking for, when it comes to dialing extensions. Thank you! (^_^)

You can also do this with the Dialer, keep pressed "*" and you get "," (pause), keep pressed "#" and you get ";" (wait), that´s it.

Wait!! I don't understand. You can use the iPhone to make PHONE CALLS? No way. I didn't realize AT&T offered that.

Wow! That's one of the best/coolest tips I've found so far. Thats great when using hands free bluetooth in my car while driving. I hated having to get. Phone out just for extensions

Here's the funny part: the comma-as-pause goes back to the AT command set used to control dial-up modems. Of course you have to have a few grey hairs to know that. Bonus points if you started with a 300 Baud modem - and yes, that was 300 bps.
"Grandpa, what's a dial-up modem?"

Awesome! I knew about the old-school pauses, but the wait thing is awesome!
I just had to setup a work bridge yesterday, and this saved my bacon. Love my iPhone, but scrambling to get all the codes in place while "occupied" was a real struggle. This works great!
Two (free) thumbs-up!

This is brilliant for regular contacts, but is there a way of dialing directly into a conference call from a calandar invite please?

wow this is awesome advise! i've always entered the extension in the notes field and manually looked up before dialing. often i would forget and have to redial... thanks a bunch, this saves me a ton of time!

This is great. Could you also modify this post to include the following? If you're dialing on the fly, you can hold the * and it will insert a pause (,) or hold the # and it will insert a wait (;). Also, you can add these characters (comma or semicolon) in the phone number string if you're maintaining contacts on a computer. Thanks for this post! I'm a new iPhone user and googled, finding your post.

this is what i was wondering, but my problem is i have a whole contact list from my blackberry with all extention entered as 555-1212 x12. do i have to go in and manually change EVERY one????

You can modify a large list of contacts by

  1. Exported contacts from Outlook to Microsoft Excel
  2. Opened up the exported (.xls) document
  3. Located the appropriate column for Business Phone, Assistant Phone, etc. that would have extensions.
  4. Highlight the appropriate columns and open up the Find/Replace function.
  5. I performed a replace on the following (".ext", "ext", "x", etc.) replacing with "; "
  6. Then I saved the .xls file.
  7. Backup your current Outlook contacts
  8. Delete your Outlook contacts.
  9. Import the updated contacts from the .xls file
  10. Resync with iTunes

Like Suzeckel above, my outlook contacts are full of 123-555-1212 X123, it worked a treat on the blackberry, too bad Apple is not supporting "X" for extension in contacts

Is there a way to associate a certain dial number if the "work" number in the contact is only the extension...... Meaning, whenver there is only a 4 digit number the phone automatically knows to dial the main number and then prompts as to when to enter the extension. BB has this feature (for the past 8 years)... It wouild be extremely helpful. Thanks.

I imported 2,000 contacts from Outlook when I converted from Windows to Mac. It's not feasible for me to go into each contact and make this adjustment. Does anyone know of a way to fix a large group of phone numbers?

I've never used outlook, but if you can export as a comma separated value (csv) file, and use find and replace in your word processor of choice, then import the file.

Thanks for the help. I never would have figured that out. I need an iPhone for dummies book! LOL

what if the pause is not working and the dial button does not work when you use a wait? that is the problem I am having on my iphone 3GS. When I use a wait the dial button is there but when I press it, tap it, whatever, it will not dial. When I use a pause, it never dials the next number.

This is not working on the iphone 5.

Even without pauses programmed, it puts long pauses between the numbers on playback.

Worked well on my palm device.

Need a fix soon!!!

There's an app for that! MobileDay let's you join as the host or the guest and you don't even have to program anything!

Awesome, Just what I was looking for. This feature must have existed decades ago I believe, but I just got to know about it and this will definitely help plummet my frustrations.