How to use Do Not Disturb mode in Android

Our smartphones command our attention many times throughout each day. Some people even check their phones in the middle of the night. Why do we allow this endless torrent of incoming notifications, which are often unimportant, or worse, email spam, to interrupt us? If you can’t resist that blinking LED or that buzzing in your pocket, then you need to get to grips with the Do Not Disturb mode in Android.

Don’t let your smartphone addiction win. Set some ground rules with your phone and ensure that it doesn’t bother you in meetings, at the theater, or when you’re sleeping. Let’s look at how to use Android’s Do Not Disturb mode.

Note: You might find some differences in the menu options from phone to phone, depending on the manufacturer, but Do Not Disturb mode is baked into stock Android, so it should be present on every Android handset running Android 6.0 or later. 

How to use Do Not Disturb mode in Android

If you want to quickly enable Do Not Disturb mode, just swipe down from the top of your screen to open the notification shade, and select the Do Not Disturb icon. A quick tap will enable Do Not Disturb using your predefined settings. If you want to make changes to your settings, long tap on the Do Not Disturb icon to go into the Settings menu. From the Settings menu, you’ll see three sections: Behavior, Exceptions, and Schedule.

You can also arrive here by tapping on the Settings gear icon in the notification drawer, then tapping on Sound > Do Not Disturb. On some phones (like the Samsung Galaxy S8), you’ll see four sections: Turn on now, Turn on as scheduled, Allow exceptions, and Hide Notifications.

Behaviors

In the Behaviors section, there are two options. In Sound & vibration, you can add exceptions for what should be muted: Alarms, Media, and Touch sounds. Toggle each one to make sure they work in Do Not Disturb mode. On some phones, you can access these features in the Allow exceptions section, where you can toggle on or off Alarms, Media, and Touch sounds, as well as decide whether to allow calls or messages from specific contacts, repeat callers, event/task alerts, and reminders.

The second option is Notifications. Here, you can customize how Do Not Disturb works. You can hide just sound from notifications (they will still show up on your device), or you can hide visual and sound interruptions (the default). Tap on the gear icon next to Custom to tailor the feature even further. You can toggle off things like Don’t turn on screen, Don’t blink light, Hide notification dots, and more.

Exceptions

Exceptions is the second section, which allows you to white-list certain contacts or callers. In a subsection called Calls, you can configure exactly who can reach you while Do Not Disturb is turned on, and there’s an option to make it starred contacts only. You can customize starred contacts in the Contacts app of your phone, or just look below to the Starred contacts section to set it up.

On some phones (like the Samsung Galaxy S8), your exceptions for white-listing contacts or callers can be found under Allow exceptions in the Calls from and Messages from sections. You can choose to allow All, Contacts only, Favorite contacts only, or None (the default for Do Not Disturb Mode).

There is a toggle for allowing repeat callers to get through as well, in case you get a call from someone more than once within a 15-minute period.

Schedule

The final section is called Schedule. In this section, there are two different subsections: Duration, and Turn off Automatically.

If you tap on the Duration tab, a popup will appear allowing you to enable Do Not Disturb until you manually turn the feature off, set a defined time limit, or have the system ask you each time you wish to enable Do Not Disturb. The Turn on automatically section is a little more robust. It allows you to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb during sleeping hours and meetings. You can also set custom rules in this section, based on events or time of day. On Pixel phones, there’s an option to turn Do Not Disturb mode when the phone detects you’re driving. You can turn it off here if you don’t want to use it.

Tap on Add rule to create a rule, choose whether it’s an event or a time, add a name, and then follow the instructions on the screen to configure it further.

On some phones, you will find the options for scheduling by toggling on or off Turn on as scheduled and clicking the text to set custom rules based on scheduled days and times.

How to use Do Not Disturb on earlier versions of Android

The methods we’ve dived into so far are from the latest version of Android 10. You might be on an earlier version of Android, in which case Do Not Disturb is a little different.

The fastest way to turn on Do Not Disturb mode is to swipe down from the top of your screen to open the notification shade and tap on the Do Not Disturb icon. On most phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow through Android 9.0 Pie, you’ll get a menu with three options:

  • Total silence: Nothing will interrupt you.
  • Alarms only: Any alarms you have set can disturb you.
  • Priority only: Alarms can get through, but you can customize exactly what else should and shouldn’t disturb you.

Underneath that, you will see the option to specify how long Do Not Disturb mode should be active. You can set it to an hour to cover a meeting you’re going into, specify a time when it should turn off, or tell it to stay on until you turn it off again yourself.

Setting Priority Notifications in Do Not Disturb

If you want to use the Priority only option, then you must first define what a priority notification is.

  • Go to Settings > Sound & notification > Do not disturb and tap Priority only allows. If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, then it’s Settings > Sounds and vibration > Do not disturb > Allow exceptions > Custom.
  • You can choose Reminders, Events, approved contacts, messages or calls from specific contacts, or repeat callers who call twice within 15 minutes.

Setting Automatic rules in Do Not Disturb

You can have Do Not Disturb mode turn on automatically, based on an event or time, by setting some rules.

  • Go to Settings > Sound & notification > Do not disturb and tap Automatic rules. If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, then it’s Settings > Sounds and vibration > Do not disturb > Enable as scheduled.
  • Tap on Add rule, and think about whether you want it to be triggered by a specific time, or by an event.
  • Pick a name for the rule and then specify the triggers.
  • For time-based rules, you can choose days of the week, and specify start and end times. This means you can set one bedtime rule for during the week and another for the weekend if you prefer.
  • By assigning a calendar to the Do Not Disturb function, you’ll enjoy event-based rules that put your phone into Do Not Disturb automatically when you have a scheduled event, like a call or meeting. This will only work for meetings you’ve confirmed, which is a pretty handy feature. Note: Unfortunately, Samsung Galaxy phones aren’t compatible with event-based rules.

Though smartphones have become a ubiquitous feature of human existence, you can still set some boundaries when it comes to your phone ruling your life. You can silence alerts during odd hours (except emergencies) that can help you enjoy your much-needed downtime.

If trivial push notifications constantly inundate you, Do Not Disturb can be a great way to get some peace and quiet. Users have the ability to create exceptions for key contacts, allowing them to reach you in an emergency, all while sparing you the influx of irritating notifications. Just don’t forget to turn Do Not Disturb off when you want alerts once again.

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