Ask LH: How Can I Make Sure My iPhone Is Always Silent?

Ask LH: How Can I Make Sure My iPhone Is Always Silent?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m an avid iPhone user who has always enjoyed tweaking my phone to make it prettier and more user-friendly. Regardless, there is one thing that I cannot get my head around. How can I know when and why my phone decides to make noise? I don’t mean this in respect of the silent toggle. What happened to me the other day might demonstrate my problem…

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I was sitting at work, which is in my case a very sound-sensitive environment where legal representatives are communicating; I was using my phone and had heard of the new Steve Jackson’s Sorcery for iOS from Kotaku, so I decided to download it. Having enabled the ‘Do Not Disturb’ toggle, turned my phone on silent, turned the volume ringer completely down, and covered the iPhone’s speakers with my thumbs, I decided to open the game. Nevertheless, my phone decided to play the game’s intro video which exploded throughout the room.

I know it was a stupid idea to open the game in the first place, but surely I should be able to disable the speakers without having to drop my iPhone in a glass of water. Any hints? Thanks, Jackson Issues

Dear JI,

Short answer: don’t play games at work. If you simply can’t resist the temptation though, we suggest keeping your headphones connected even when you’re not using them — while this wont completely mask the sound, it will make it far less noisy and embarrassing when a game decides to circumvent your phone’s volume controls. You could also try giving Airplane Mode a try although this will naturally stop you from receiving calls and notifications.

If any readers have an alternative solution (other than ditching iOS for Android) please let JI know in the comments section below.


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  • Q: I know it’s stupid to play games at work but how do I make my phone not be noisy when I’m using it in a quiet environment?
    A: Don’t play games! 😀

    So helpful.

      • So you know of no way to alter universal volume settings on iPhone (or other phone, I guess, but this query relates specifically to iPhone), instead one must change volume/mute settings in each app individually? Why didn’t you just say that?

        • As JI points out, some apps and functions are capable of circumventing the iPhone’s Do Not Disturb and volume controls (same goes for in-app settings — some don’t stay muted after you close and reopen them). Hence, the headphone suggestion.

  • Find yourself an old pair of headphones, and cut the plug off.

    Stick the plug in the jack when you want your phone to be completely silent.

    Not a completely elegant solution, but one that works

  • I feel your pain. I always keep my phone on silent because I work in a very sound sensitive environment. I was in the middle of a high profile gig when somehow inside my pocket I accidentally double tapped the home button and pushed play on the media player (something I couldn’t replicate if I tried). It started playing music at top volume and I didn’t even realise it was me until someone tapped me on the shoulder. Lucky the last album I played was a reasonably good taste soul album and not a track by RATM or Ol Dirty Bizza! The dude is right though, the best way to make sure this never happens is to keep your hand off it! Like you I learned this the hard way.

  • there is 2 volume that you can access. The first one is for the ringing tone that is silenced by the volume buttons on the side of the iphone and the silent switch. The second is the media sound that can be accessed by double tapping the home button, then swiping from left to right twice (you’ll see the background apps, then media control, then the media volume). I have this one off all the time as I use my bluetooth speakers to play music). Also note that this volume is different when you have headphones plugged in.

  • I have had and iPhone and now a Android phone.

    At various times I have attempted to put both devices on silent, but neither actually remained silent. Even some apps built-in to the OS don’t respect “silent” and start blaring away in meetings.

    When I put my phone on silent want total, absolute silence that no app or feature can override. No noise. Not ever.

    What part of the word “silent” don’t Apple and Google understand?

  • The funny thing about this (as a somewhat** happy) Windows Phone user for the past 2.5 years is that global settings rule all!

    **Except when using my phone alarm the day after I bought it made me late to work since it used the global sound amount (since fixed)

    **That and if I have headphones in to listen to music, receive call, hang up, music comes out of phone speakers. srsly wp8, what up with that.

    **… That’s all really. Cheers.

  • It should be noted that Do Not Disturb only takes effect when your phone is in standby.

    If you’re using it (screen on, device unlocked) then iOS assumes you don’t mind being notified of incoming calls, alerts, etc.)

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