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How to unsilence notifications on an iPhone

Silence isn't always golden.

Published onApril 16, 2024

The point of an iPhone is to keep in touch with people and services nominally, and when you miss a notification, that point goes out the window — especially if it’s your partner, family, or workplace trying to reach you. Below, we’ll explain various ways to unsilence/unmute iPhone notifications, including specific instructions for contacts and apps.


To unsilence notifications on an iPhone, first check if the mute switch is off. If notifications are still silenced, consider checking the alert volume, if any Focus modes are toggled on, and if you have a ringtone selected that's noticeable enough.


How to unmute and turn on your iPhone notifications

Depending on your situation, there are a variety of basic things you may have to do to both receive and hear notifications.

Flip off the mute switch

iPhone mute switch 3
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As of this writing, at least, all iPhones have a dedicated mute switch (a.k.a. “ring/silent,” as Apple calls it). If you can see an orange stripe, that means mute is switched on, and you won’t hear any audio feedback for incoming notifications.

This is potentially just fine. You’ll still get vibration alerts, and you may also be getting notifications via a connected smartwatch such as an Apple Watch. In fact, Apple’s vibration motors are so powerful that they can make noise in their own right. But if you’re expecting mission-critical notifications, it’s best to leave your ringer on, even if that means putting up with sound for unimportant things like marketing.

Check ringtone and alert volume

By default, ringtone/alert volume is separate from overall system volume on an iPhone. If the former is set too low, some alerts may be too faint to hear, and turning it all the way down is equivalent to having your mute switch on. You can adjust ringtone/alert volume by going to Settings > Sounds and Haptics and using the labelled slider.

Note that if you toggle Change with Buttons, you can control ringtone/alert volume with your iPhone’s general volume buttons. We’d recommend against this though, since it becomes possible to accidentally mute or unmute an iPhone, and you’ll usually want rings coming in quieter than your powerlifting soundtrack for the gym.

Disable active Focus modes

While Apple’s Focus modes can be immensely useful for cutting out distractions and serving up apps when you need them, if you leave them on, they tend to block notifications you actually want.

To disable a Focus mode, swipe down over your battery status to open Control Center, then tap Focus. If an unnecessary mode is highlighted, such as Do Not Disturb or Fitness, tap on it to toggle it off.

How to unsilence contact notifications on an iPhone

If you’re missing communications from a particular person, but everything else seems fine, you’ve probably silenced their associated entry in the Contacts app. Here’s how to undo that:

  • If you’re simply not seeing Messages notifications, open your conversation with the affected person and tap on their contact name at the top of the screen. In the window that pops up, toggle off Hide Alerts.
  • If you’re not receiving phone calls or text messages, someone may be blocked entirely. Go to Settings > Phone > Blocked Contacts, tap Edit, then remove the person from the Blocked list.

How to unsilence app notifications on an iPhone

Apps are silenced or unsilenced on a per-app basis. There are a couple of things you might have to do:

  • In most cases, you’ll have to go to Settings > Notifications, select the app you want to control, then toggle on Allow Notifications and Sounds if they’re not already active. You can also customize how notifications will look, including badges.
  • If you see a notification from a silenced app in the Notification Center, do a short swipe left on the notification until you see buttons appear. Tap Options, then Unmute if the selection is available. If it’s not, you probably have to use the method above.

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