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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Getting around Do Not Disturb with Emergency Bypass for calls, texts

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

On our most recent episode of The Rebound, my co-hosts and I were discussing our usage of iOS’s very handy Do Not Disturb feature. One of them mentioned the frustration that it doesn’t apply to texts, which reminded me of a lesser known feature that accomplishes many of the same purposes: Emergency Bypass.

Added in iOS 10, Emergency Bypass is a way to ensure that you will always be alerted by a certain contact’s phone calls and/or texts, even if the phone is in Do Not Disturb mode and even if the mute switch is engaged. But this feature is a little bit hidden, so here’s how to turn it on.

Emergency Bypass

First, open the Contacts or Phone app, and go to the selected contact. Tap the Edit button in the top right corner, then scroll down and tap either the Ringtone field or the Text Tone field.

At the top you’ll see a slider for Emergency Bypass, which tells you that you’ll get alerts (sounds and vibrations) when that person calls or texts, even when Do Not Disturb is on. (If you want both call and text alerts to bypass DND, you need to activate this feature for both the ringtone and text tone separately.) Turn that on, tap Done, and you’re all set. You’ll notice the entry next to the tone will now say “Emergency Bypass On” instead of listing the alert sound.

If you want to get alerts, but don’t like the idea of sounds always going off, you can set the Ringtone or Text Tone to None and just enable a vibration instead. That can be handy if you’ve got someone’s ringtone set to Old Car Horn, for example. Not that I would ever do that to anybody.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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