How to stop your iPhone from autoplaying music in the car

Apple CarPlay auto-play
(Image credit: Apple)

As auto manufacturers and Apple have progressed forward in their relationship to make your car as smart as possible, occasionally not-smart things happen. Like your vehicle blasting music (or the latest audiobook chapter) into your ears when you first get in the car.

While the original impulse may have been a helpful one on the part of the manufacturers — surely, users want to hear their music first thing — it's often ended up a nuisance. Spoiler: If you're listening to a steamy romance book on your AirPods, you don't want that chapter to blast in the car when driving your mother to the mall.

Unfortunately, Apple's provided no easy "Turn off auto-playing music over Bluetooth" switch directly on your iPhone or iPad. But you can still solve this somewhat irksome issue with a couple of other fixes.

Option 1: Check your car to see if there are any auto-play settings

Depending on your car's make and model, it may offer its own auto-playing Bluetooth settings, separate from your iPhone (or any other smartphone.) Before you go diving to shut off your iPhone, check there.

A car dashboard showing Sound Settings.

(Image credit: iMore / Ally Kazmucha)

Even if there's no auto-play disable switch in your car, you may be able to find a default volume setting, which can limit the volume of auto-playing music or audiobooks.

Option 2: Tell your iPhone to cut it out

By default, your iPhone will try to play its last audio source when you connect to your car; for most people, that's your music library (in alphabetical order), but if you've been listening to an audiobook, podcast, or another app, your car may try to start playing from that app, instead.

Depending on the circumstance, there are a few ways to keep your iPhone from automatically playing audio you don't want to hear:

Add a silent track to your music library.

You can use the iPhone's propensity to play songs in alphabetical order to trick your car's Bluetooth stereo: Find a silent song like John Cage's 4'33" and rename it so that it shows up as the very first song in your library; next time, when you get into the car, it should auto-play the sweet, sweet sound of silence.

Tell Siri to stop.

If you tell Siri "Stop playing" at any point, your iPhone will disable all noise. Conveniently, triggering Siri will also shut off your music.

Force quit the Music (or any other) app.

If your unwanted audio is coming from the Music app or any other third-party application, you can double-press the Home button to force quit the respective app and immediately bring an end to the noise.

Turn off CarPlay.

This tip comes from bed269 in our forums, who notes that even if your Bluetooth stereo system doesn't officially support CarPlay, you can use the Screentime section of the Settings app to disable the feature — which, in turn, disables auto-play. That said, if you rely on an actual CarPlay system, this may not be the best route to take. If you want to give it a go, however, here's how to do it.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap Content & Privacy restrictions.

  1. Enter your Screen Time passcode.
  2. Tap Allowed Apps.
  3. Switch CarPlay off.

Turn off Cellular Data.

True, turning off cellular data will only stop streaming audio — but if you primarily stream your content, this will put a quick end to any unwanted chatter.

Option 3: Send Apple Feedback

Ultimately, none of the above suggestions are iron-proof fixes to this problem: The best way to get your iPhone to stop automatically playing is to ask Apple (opens in new tab) to put in a Settings switch to make that happen.

The end of auto-play

There is a time and place for auto-play features, but the moment you turn on your car is probably not it. Now you're equipped with the tools you need to end auto-play functionality when you turn on your car, and you can always turn it back on if you change your mind later. Keep that morning drive peaceful and be the boss of what comes blaring out of the car stereo from your best iPhone.

Updated August 2022: Updated for latest version of iOS.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

With contributions from