Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have an iPhone 4, and I have the switch on the side set to switch silent mode on and off.

I'd like specific contacts (for example, She Who Must Be Obeyed) to ring when they call, even in silent mode.

I've seen various hacks on the internet suggesting using a "silent" ring tone, but that's not what I want. I basically want two states:

  1. All callers cause the phone to ring (according to their individual ring tone settings)
  2. Almost all callers are silent except for VIPs

Is this possible?

share|improve this question
The mute button has priority over other controls. An app that made noise while the mute button was set to mute would not be approved by Apple so you'd have to get a jailbroken phone and custom app. – Old Pro May 19 '13 at 21:29

That's one of the benefits of the "Do not disturb" function in iOS 6:

  • assign all contacts which can reach you even when you don't want to be disturbed int a contact group via iCloud
  • activate "Do not disturb" in Settings and configure the Notifications settings to still allow calls from the contact group you created. You can also schedule a time range when you want Do Not Disturb to automatically activate.
  • silence switch will still work as intended (silencing the phone)
share|improve this answer
Thanks for the suggestion. Does that mean I'd need to go and manually switch DND on/off in the Settings app? I can't quite wrap my head around how many "modes" that would leave me with when combined with the switch. I really just want the two modes - anyone can cause a ring and only VIPs can cause a ring. – dty Dec 21 '12 at 11:21
In this case leave the hardware switch in the On/non-silent position and just toggle "do not disturb". While in DND calls will still come in and go to Voice Mail unless the caller is in the VIP list. – patrix Dec 21 '12 at 12:32
Ah, I don't want them to go to VM. I still want the phone to vibrate - just not make a noise. I want to be able to answer the call if I choose. I just don't want it to be disruptive for my colleagues. But if the wife calls, I want to make sure I don't miss it because it's only vibrating with its feeble little vibrate! :-) – dty Dec 21 '12 at 13:29

What you are looking for is not possible with the defaults settings available to you. The only way you can differentiate users is via the VIP, and so you need to do the workaround you suggested in order to only have a selection of users ring.

  • Use a silent ringtone as default
  • Choose an actual ringtone for your VIP's

Of course, the obvious drawback is that when not muted, your non-VIP contacts are still muted. You can then perhaps further workaround this by setting a vibrate setting, and then setting vibrate when silent to off, which will mean that VIPs always ring, but non VIPs bibrate, or do nothing.

share|improve this answer
What you are suggesting seems to be what @dty is not looking for as stated in her/his question. – Alex Mar 6 '13 at 9:12

One (painful) workaround is to give She Who Must Be Obayed access to your Apple ID so she can use Find iPhone to "Play Sound" if you don't answer your phone. AFAIK that is the only Apple-approved way to play a sound on an iPhone while the phone is muted.

share|improve this answer

Don't use the mute button. Instead, use the Do Not Disturb manual function in settings and select "Allow calls from Favorites". Open a contact and select the star from the bottom right to make it a favorite.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.