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Phone with no signal.

Kill Interruptions with Android’s Do Not Disturb Mode

I love my smartphone as much as the next person. But when it comes time to get serious work done (or I just want some peace and quiet), I sometimes want to throw the thing against the wall. The constant beeping and buzzing and ringing of incoming messages can make it impossible to concentrate. But things are much better now that I have started using the Do Not Disturb option built into my Android phone.

I’ve known about the Airplane Mode on smartphones for years. I use it all the time when flying. And I use it at night when I go to sleep and don’t want to be awakened by spam email, or somebody’s drunken Facebook post at 2am. It works great for this.

But Airplane Mode is hard-core. Your phone’s built-in radios are deactivated. No calls or messages arrive from anyone. You can’t place calls either. And you have no GPS or Internet either. You are completely out of touch when Airplane Mode is on.

Do Not Disturb mode on Android phones gives you much more control. In this mode, your phone is still connected to the world. You can use the Internet, make calls, send messages, all that good stuff. And people can still send you messages.

But Do Not Disturb mode stops the phone from notifying you about those calls and messages. It mutes all incoming calls and alerts. In other words, you still get messages on your phone. And people can still leave you voice mail. You just won’t get the noise and flashing lights that would otherwise distract you from what you are doing.

You can also use this mode to block only certain people, or set it to activate automatically on a schedule. But in this post I’m going to show you how to find and use the basic Do Not Disturb mode. If you want details on the fancier aspects, leave me a message below and I’ll do another post specifically on that.

This puts you in control. Instead of incoming stuff grabbing your attention whenever it arrives, you only see the stuff when you want to. Using Do Not Disturb makes it easier to concentrate when you need to and gives you a bit of control over the endless distractions that bombard you every day.

So if this all sounds good to you, let me show you how to put the basic Android Do Not Disturb mode to work.

How to Turn Do Not Disturb Mode On and Off

I’m going to walk you through this step by step. But before I do, I have to make a disclaimer. Android phones don’t all work exactly the same. Each version of Android does things slightly differently. And phone manufacturers often add their own bells and whistles to the stock Android setup. On top of that, mobile phone companies (the guys who own the phone networks, not the ones who manufacture the phones) sometimes add their own unique twists to the interfaces of phones that run on their networks. And if you are using a non-Android device I am virtually certain it won’t work but you shouldn’t be reading this post anyway.

That’s all to say that while what I am about to tell you works on my phone (a Samsung Galaxy J7 running Android 5.1.1), I can’t guarantee that it will work on yours. It probably will, but I can’t guarantee it. The bright side of the story is that what we are about to do here can’t break your phone in any way so there is no risk in trying. Ready?

Finding Do Not Disturb

The first step is to find the Do Not Disturb option on your phone. If your phone has this capability, you should be able to find it somewhere on the Settings screen. On my particular model of phone, it is an option in the Notifications section of the the Sounds and notifications page. This is the logical place for it, and if your phone supports it, you will likely find it here.

Do Not Disturb on Sounds and notifications screen

Look for the Do Not Disturb option here.

Using Do Not Disturb

As I said, today we are not concerned with the fancier options under Do Not Disturb. To activate this mode, tap Do not disturb. You should then see a slider or similar option that allows you to turn this mode On or Off. That’s all it takes.

You can tell when Do Not Disturb is active by looking for its icon on the phone’s notification area at the top of the screen. In the image below it is the leftmost icon at the top of the screen.

The Do Not Disturb icon

The Do Not Disturb icon is the one in the top left corner of the screen.

Turning this mode on and off is easy once you get to the right place. But if you are going to be using this option regularly, you probably would like it to be easier to get at. We can make that happen too (depending on the capabilities of your specific phone of course).

Adding Do Not Disturb to the Quick Access Settings

Until recently, I was clueless about this aspect of Android. In the standard (stock) version, you can place two fingers side-by-side at the top of the phone screen, then drag them down to display a group of Quick Access Settings. These settings are typically thinks like WiFi, Sound, and so on. However, these may not be the only options you have available. Chances are, you will be able to put Do Not Disturb here in place of one of the other options. Let me show you how this works on my phone.

When I originally did the two-fingered drag, this is what I saw:

My default Quick Settings

Here’s what my Quick Settings used to look like.

Notice the blue text that says, EDIT? When I tapped that, the phone gave me some new options:

More Quick Settings Options

More possibilities to display as Quick Settings.

Note that Do Not Disturb was one of those options and Airplane Mode another. All you need to do is long tap (press and hold) an icon and after a moment you will be able to drag it around the screen. I dragged those two up there, displacing Screen Rotation and Location. Once I was finished, my Quick Settings looked like this. Mission accomplished!

Do Not Disturb on Quick Settings bar.

Do Not Disturb as a Quick Setting for easy access.