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Summary. It is sometimes desirable to have an audible ringer for some callers while silencing the phone for other callers. By default, this feature is not an option for the iPhone. This page describes a way of making this possible. This ability is very helpful for busy people who simply can’t take calls or be interrupted throughout the day because they are frequently already on the phone and/or in meetings.

Create a Silent Ring Tone. Follow these instructions to create a silent ringtone.

  1. Go to the iTunes store and find a song with an extended period of silence at the beginning of the song, end of the song, or during the song. An example of this would be He Will Carry Me by Mark Schultz which has about 5 seconds of silence at the end. Or you can begin with the songs already in your existing library. Note that the following procedure only works for songs that have at one time been downloaded from iTunes. It doesn’t work with songs imported from CD.
  2. When viewing songs in the iTunes store (or in your own library), choose to view the Ringtones column by right clicking on the column headings above the songs listed and then put a check mark next to Ringtone to display the column and see if a given song is available for download as a ringtone. If a bell is displayed in the column, the song is available as a ringtone. Purchase the song (if on the iTunes store) or if it is in your library continue to step #3 below. If you left click on the bell icon while in the iTunes store, instructions are provided that tell more about creating ring tones.
  3. Once the song from the iTunes store has been added to your library, click on the bell icon in the Ringtone column near the song title. This will cause the ringtone editor to appear at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Use the horizontal scroll to scroll to the end of the song (most songs have silence at the end). The waveform of the song (the volume level) will be depicted graphically. Find the point in the song where the waveform (volume) is flat (silent). Highlight that section of the song, preview it, and then buy it as a ring tone.
  5. Once the ringtone is in your library, you can rename it to include the description “silent -” before the song name to remind you that it is the silent ringtone. This silent ringtone will be used for selectively silencing the phone.

Silencing Everyone Except a Few People. If you are in an important meeting and there’s really nobody you want to be interrupted by except a few people, you can set the default ringer for the phone as the silent ringtone created above. Then, the few distinct ringtones assigned to a few important contacts will be the only ones that might interrupt your meeting.

Silencing Only a Few People but Taking All Other Calls. If you have a few persistent callers who interrupt you throughout the day, you can select to ignore those callers by assigning the silent ringtone to only those callers. The default ringtone on the phone will alert you to all other callers.

Switching Modes. It is fairly easy to switch between the two modes above. Instead of silencing your phone, simply choose the silent ringtone. Then the few important callers can still get your attention. When out of the meeting, change the ringtone back to your preferred ringtone. The few people who have a silent ringtone permanently assigned will still not be able to interrupt you.

Unknown Callers. If you are plagued by people calling from different phone numbers each time or calling using an unidentified caller ID, you can simply leave the silent ringtone as the default ringtone and then give any and all important callers a preferred ringtone that will alert you to them calling.

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