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How to receive messages from specific contacts in Do Not Disturb mode on iPhone and iPad

How to use Contacts on iPhone and iPad
How to use Contacts on iPhone and iPad

If you have ever missed an important call from a specific person because you forgot that your iPhone or iPad was in Do Not Disturb mode, you're not alone. iOS 10 has a new feature that can help, but no one seems to be talking about it. It's called Emergency Bypass and it was the people over at iAccessibility that first brought it to light for us.

Note: You have to turn on Emergency Bypass for phone calls and text messages separately.

What does Emergency Bypass do?

Emergency Bypass lets you pick which notifications (calls or texts) get through to you from a specific contact while Do Not Disturb mode is active, and it will also bypass silent mode. I'll give you an example.

Let's say you're about to head into a meeting at work and you want to turn your iPhone to Do Not Disturb mode, but you are waiting on an important call from your Mom. If you set your Mom to an Emergency Bypass contact, her phone call or text message can still come through loud and proud.

This is different than the "Always Allow Calls From" setting for Do Not Disturb. Always Allow only lets you choose contact groups. You'd have to set up a group first, even if you only want one person to be able to bypass Do Not Disturb. Emergency Bypass lets you select a single contact instead. You can also choose multiple contacts without having to put them into a group first.

How to turn on Emergency Bypass for phone calls on iPhone and iPad

You have to enable Emergency Bypass for each contact individually.

  1. Launch Contacts from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on the contact you want on Emergency Bypass.
  3. Tap Edit.
  4. Tap Ringtone

  1. Tap the Emergency Bypass switch. The switch should be green when it's enabled.
  2. Tap Done
  3. Tap Done again.

You can follow these same steps to turn off Emergency Bypass for any contact whenever you want.

How to turn on Emergency Bypass for texts on iPhone and iPad

  1. Launch Contacts from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on the contact you want on Emergency Bypass.
  3. Tap Edit.
  4. Tap Text Tone

  1. Tap the Emergency Bypass switch. The switch should be green when it's enabled.
  2. Tap Done
  3. Tap Done again.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

9 Comments
  • Interesting, thanks! I don't know how good this feature is however, as I would prefer my phone not to ring when I'm in the toilet...
  • Be careful with this feature. It not only bypasses "Do Not Disturb", it also ignores the silent switch. It truly is an "emergency" bypass. There still seems no way to allow texts to bypass "Do Not Disturb" *only*.
  • That's unfortunate... I was hoping to use this feature as a more selective version of "Do Not Disturb," but I'll have to ignore it if it rings through even when the silent switch is enabled.
  • Put those people in your Favorites and enable allow Favorites to come through in Do Not Disturb.
  • Doesn't that only work for phone calls? I never get notification of my wife's messages during scheduled do not disturb hours, which is quite irritating.
  • Yep; was not happy when my wife's texts kept pinging me during a meeting. Thanks Apple. Never, ever bypass the silent switch. Just let it vibrate to alert me, please. Apple's weak DND functionality is the only thing I miss switching from Android - which gets DND functionality spot on.
  • YES
  • What if the contact doesn't have a selected text tone?
  • I am testing this with my wife set to Emergency Bypass On for Text Tone, and Alert Tone to "None" which suggests that it should just vibrate as I keep my phone in silent mode all the time.