There’s no getting around it: there will always be people you just don’t want to talk to. For many of us, those unwanted calls come in the form of persistent ex-lovers trying to rekindle what has been lost or telemarketers offering an all-expenses-paid luxury cruise to a tropical island off the southern tip of Costa Rica. Thankfully, Apple’s most-recent mobile operating system and the iBlacklist app have finally supplied a workaround method for blocking pesky callers. Whether the separation is merely temporary, or more permanent, is entirely up to you.
Updated 01-13-2016 by Kyle Wiggers: Added methods for blocking calls using iBlacklist and Do Not Disturb Mode.
Here’s our how-to guide about how to block calls with an Apple iPhone regardless of your OS version. You won’t be able to block unlisted numbers and those blocked using other methods, but at least you’ll be able to bar any known number from contacting you via phone calls, messages, and FaceTime.
Block calls using iOS 7, 8, or 9
It’s been a long time coming, but Apple has finally built an OS with built-in blocking utilities (and we are better for it). The feature, coupled with all versions of iOS since the release of iOS 7, allows users to quickly block calls, messages, and Facetime requests sans any unnecessary external software or third-party apps. It’s a welcome and convenient inclusion — one accessible through both your iPhone’s settings menu and contact list — but one also only available on the iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch.
Once properly set up, blocked calls will automatically be routed to your voicemail. There will be no indication a call, text, or FaceTime request has been received on your end, but send receipts and other indications will still appear on the sender’s device as they would normally — meaning the sender will not be alerted of your decision to block them. Call blocking is a one way street when using iOS 7 – 9, so you can still contact blocked numbers via phone call, text, and FaceTime with no hindrance, if you should decide that you want to.
Step 1: Download and install iOS 7, 8, or 9 — If you haven’t already, back up your device and upgrade to iOS 7, 8, or 9 via iTunes or your Wi-Fi network. To do so using the latter option, tap the main Settings icon from your smartphone’s home screen, select the General option near the top of the resulting menu, and then tap Software Update. Ensure your device is connected to a power source and tap the Download and Install button.
Step 2: Navigate to Blocked menu — Tap the main Settings icon when viewing the home screen, select the Phone option from the resulting menu and tap the Blocked option beneath the Calls section. Alternatively, select either the Messages or FaceTime option from the main Settings menu to access the same Blocked menu offered through the Phone settings.
Step 3: Block the number — Tap the blue Add New button and select the desired number you wish to block from the resulting contact list. To unblock a user, simply tap the blue Edit option in the top-right corner of the Blocked menu, followed by the red subtraction sign directly beside the user you wish to unblock. Afterward, tap the red Unblock button to confirm the changes.
Alternative blocking method — Tap the Phone icon while viewing the home screen, select either all calls or missed calls and tap the information icon to the right of the number you wish to block. Now, scroll to the bottom of the resulting info panel, and tap the blue Block this Caller option, followed by Block Contact to confirm the request.
Next page: Block using iBlacklist (iOS 3,4, 5 and 6).
Block calls using iBlacklist (iOS 3, 4, 5 and 6)
Not everyone has the option to upgrade to iOS 7 given the hardware limitations of older devices. Luckily, the iBlacklist app does a fantastic job of blocking both calls and texts from specific people or unknown numbers if you’re willing to risk jailbreaking your iPhone and shelling out an additional $12 in the Cydia app store. It’s not a difficult or a lengthy process, but it’s one effective way to block unwanted communication. Check out the iBlacklist manual at the top the application’s website for a detailed, photo-laden rundown of the software and all of its features.
Step 1: Navigate to the iBlacklist app — To begin, tap the Cydia icon on your phone, search for “iBlacklist” in the search tab, and select the app from the search results. We’re assuming you’ve already jailbroken your iPhone and have access to the Cydia app. If not, refer to our guide for how to jailbreak your iPhone to unlock the alternate store.
Step 2: Download and install the iBlacklist app — Follow the on-screen instructions for downloading and purchasing iBlacklist. When done downloading, click “Close Window” to close Cydia and return to your homescreen. You may have to restart your phone before the changes will take effect.
Step 3: Block the number — Scroll through your apps to find the iBlacklist icon and open up the app. Tap Blacklists from the main menu to access your current blacklisted groups and numbers. To add a new number tap Add new Blacklist, and select Import from Address Book to block an entire contact list. Alternatively, select General BL, and tap the addition sign in the upper right-hand corner to add individual contacts from your address book, recent calls list, recent SMS list, or to manually enter a number and accompanying contact info.
Step 4: Toggle blocked forms of communication — After you’ve entered the contact to be blocked, look for the red call icon on the configuration role. Set the switch to On to block incoming calls from that contact. You can also block SMS, MMS, and FaceTime by toggling the switches next to the red icons for each form of communication.
Step 5: Set action for blocked calls — Now you’ll need to tap Action when viewing a contact to choose your desired action when the unwanted call comes in. You can choose to accept the call, immediately accept and hang up, send the caller straight to voicemail, issue a busy signal or block the call before your phone even rings. When finished, close the contact and the changes will be automatically saved. Continue blocking people in the same manner until you’re satisfied with your blacklist.
Next Page: Block calls using Do Not Disturb mode (iOS 6)
Block calls using your phones Do Not Disturb mode (iOS 6)
Although iBlacklist is the best option for blocking calls for those lacking iOS 7, it may not be the most enticing. Jailbreaking your iPhone voids your warranty and opens your smartphone up to a slew of stability and security issues that may leave some users skeptical about taking the plunge.
That being said, the built-in Do Not Disturb mode in iOS 6 can accomplish the blocking task to a certain degree, but it essentially works in reverse. Instead of receiving incoming calls from everyone but the contacts you block, the tool will actually block incoming calls from everyone but the contacts you allow. It’s overkill, yes, but a nice option if you want to drop off the radar for a spell and only receive calls from a select few individuals, especially given iOS 6 is available for older devices incompatible with iOS 7.
Step 1: Download and install iOS 6 — If you haven’t already, back up your device and upgrade to iOS 6 via iTunes or your Wi-Fi network. To do so using the latter option, tap the main Settings icon from your smartphone’s home screen, select the General option near the top of the resulting men, and tap Software Update on the resulting screen. Afterward, ensure your device is connected to a power source and tap the Download and Install button.
Step 2: Open the Do Not Disturb settings — Click the Settings icon with the gears, tap the Notifications and select the Do Not Disturb option at the top the list.
Step 3: Set the utility specifics — Once opened, you can schedule the mode to automatically turn on during specified hours hours of the day and select the contacts you wish to receive calls from. Simply choose the Allow Calls From option and choose favorites to allow calls from contacts on your favorites list. Alternatively you can select no one and everyone (which seems counter intuitive, if you ask us). There’s also an option to toggle on Repeated Calls, an option that doesn’t silence phone calls from the same person if they call you more than once within three minutes.
Step 4: Activate the Do Not Disturb mode —Finally, toggle on the Do Not Disturb mode from your iPhone’s main settings to initiate the function. When active, a crescent moon icon will appear to the left of the clock at the top of your phone, indicating that the comprehensive blocking feature is in full effect.
Next Page: Block calls at the carrier level
If no amount of finagling gets call screening working properly on your iPhone, there’s the nuclear option: carrier-level blocking. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer the service, albeit not in all cases without restrictions.
If you’ve got an online account with Sprint, blocking a number is as easy as logging into Sprint.com, navigating to the My Preferences tab, then Limits and Permissions, and finally Block voice. From there, you can select the phone numbers you’d like to block, or block all outbound and/or inbound voice calls for however long you wish.
It’s a relatively simple process with T-Mobile, too. Sign in to your account, and then click Tools > Family Allowance > Access Family Allowances. From the Blocking Numbers menu, you can choose up to 10 contacts.
In contrast to T-Mobile and Sprint, Verizon makes blocking specific numbers a bit of a hassle. To activate call screening, log in to your account and select Manage Verizon Family Safeguards & Controls. Then, pull up Call & Message Blocking Feature and add numbers. You’re limited to five, and they’ll reset every 90 days — permanent blocking requires Verizon’s $5 a month FamilyBase plan.
Next Page: Call-blocking apps
Sometimes, built-in settings and carrier-level blocking don’t provide the level of customization you desire. That’s where third-party apps come in. Many services sport spam databases and location-based blocking fare more versatile than any of iOS’s options, and at the very least should help prevent that out-of-state political campaigner who keeps asking for your social security number from ever calling again.
Whitepages ID (free)
Whitepages ID might best be described as a crowdsourced call screening tool. While not a number blocking app per se, the service helps you avoid scammers, telemarketers, and other unwanted callers by comparing incoming calls to a directory of 500,000 rated numbers. It alerts you when there’s a match, and lets you report new spam to the Number Cop community. If you let it, the app will scan your text messages for potentially malicious links, too.
Call Bliss ($10)
The conceit of Call Bliss is simple: You can block numbers depending on scenarios like the time of day, location, or activity. If you’re at home, for instance, you can let your wife’s calls through while silencing your co-workers’ numbers. And you can create groups of numbers that you can block with a single tap, such as “friends” or “family.” There’s a master blacklist option, and a “Suppress All Callers” mode to send all calls to voicemail. The only downside? Call Bliss requires iOS 6 or later.
If you’re looking for a no-frills call blocking app, iWhitelist will more than likely satisfy. It silences calls and notifications from numbers that you’ve added to a blacklist, and gives you granular options for each entry in said blacklist. There’s a whitelist option, also, for those times you’d rather not be bothered by any but a select few calls.
TrapCall ($3.95 – $19.95 per month)
TrapCall, a paid service, takes a different approach to number filtering. Rather than block calls indiscriminately, any number the service identifies as blocked or restricted is automatically “unmasked” when you reject the call; TrapCall collects the name, address, and phone number of callers without caller ID. After doing so, it rings you back with the unblocked number and sends you an SMS with the aforementioned information.
What do you think of our quick-hit guide on how to block calls on an Apple iPhone? Do you need further clarification or have a better method not outlined above? Let us know in the comments below.