How to Turn Off Phone Calls on the iPhone but Keep Data & iMessage

May 8, 2013 - 34 Comments

Turn off phone calls but keep iPhone data working

Ever wished you could turn off the phone call portion of your iPhone, while still retaining the ability to use data, access the internet, even send iMessages? You can do that with a funky workaround we’ll cover here, and it’s an amazing solution if you’re looking for some peace and quiet but in a situation where you still need to use your iPhones data connection and internet access. The other benefit? You can still make outbound phone calls, you just won’t receive any phone calls back to the iPhone itself.

How to Turn Off Phone Calls on iPhone, While Keeping Internet, Data, Messages Working

There’s no way to directly turn off just the phone portion of an iPhone, so instead we’ll use an alternate method to get the job done. This utilizes call forwarding to automatically send all incoming calls to either a nonexistent number (bringing total isolation, your phone will appear as if it has been turned off or is no longer accepting calls), or send all calls automatically to voicemail (this is better, because people can still leave you voicemail and you can still check them to see if it’s important).

Maintaining cellular data usage is why this trick differs from just toggling AirPlane Mode, which turns off internet functionality and basically makes an iPhone into an iPod touch that is unable to reach the outside world at all. Do Not Disturb is different too, because although data usage remains intact, Do Not Disturb basically just mutes the phone and doesn’t actually prevent inbound calls from coming through to the phone, they are just silenced when the feature is on.

1a: Find the Voice Mail Number

Each mobile phone number has an entirely separate unique phone number specifically for voice mail, that is what we’re going to retrieve here:

  • Open the phone app on the iPhone and dial *#67# then hit Call
  • Ignore all the “Setting Interrogation Succeeded Voice Call Forwarding” stuff and just pay attention to the number following “Forwards to” – this is the voice mail number
  • Jot the voice mail number down somewhere you can easily retreive it, or take a screenshot (Power+Home button concurrently)

This is what this two-step process will look like, the resulting voice mail number has been blurred out for obvious reasons:

Find voice mail number by dialing *#67#

Or you can go the alternate route and find a number that isn’t real or is out of service.

1b: Alternatively, Find a Non-Existent Phone Number

Would you rather your iPhone sound as if it’s been disconnected or is no longer accepting calls? That’s easy, you just need to locate a phone number that doesn’t actually exist. Typically, any random area code followed by 555-5555 works, but you’ll want to call the number yourself first to be sure it’s not actually a real number.

If you’re feeling funny, you could even forward your phone number to some weird service, 800 number, the person who is calling you nonstop and annoying you, or someone else… you get the idea, but that’s not what we’re covering here.

2: Forward Inbound Calls to the Voice Mail or Nonexistent Phone Number

We’ve discussed the the how to use the iPhone’s call forwarding feature before, and if you’re familiar go ahead and jump to it, otherwise here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Open Settings, then go to “Phone”
  • Choose “Call Forwarding” and flip it ON
  • Tap “Forward to” and enter the number in the prior step, whether it’s the voicemail number from *#67# or the disconnected number
  • Exit out of Settings

Forward all inbound calls to voicemail

Note about Call Forwarding for Verizon users: Verizon users often don’t have the “Call Forwarding” option built into iOS as described above. Instead, dial *72 followed by the phone number to forward to. You can then dial *73 at a later time to disable call forwarding and return to normal.

You can always double-check the trick is functioning as intended by calling your number from someone else’s phone or by calling yourself from Skype or Google Voice. If you chose the voicemail option, the iPhone will appear as if it has been turned off or is out of service area and instead goes directly to your voice mail box, without you having to manually send each call there yourself. If you chose the nonexistent number option, the iPhone will appear as if the phone number is no longer in service at all as if it was canceled.

You’ll know this is working because you’ll see the little Call Forward icon in the iOS menu bar, it looks like an old fashioned phone handset with an arrow pointing out of it.

Calls sent to voicemail automatically on iPhone by using forwarding

Result: iPhone with Data, Internet, iMessage, Skype, etc but No Incoming Phone Calls

Data still works beautifully. Every internet-based app on the iPhone will work as intended. iMessage still works to send and receive messages. Skype works. Personal Hotspot even continues to work. The only difference is the iPhone will no longer take phone calls as long as call forwarding is active. Why isn’t there feature on the iPhone to begin with that would let us temporarily disable the phone? Who knows, but we’re glad to have a workaround, even if it is in the same quirky vein as creating blocked lists to stop calls from certain annoying numbers.

When you’re all done zenning out in silence and want to receive phone calls again, you can just go back into Settings > Phone > Call Forwarding > and flip the switch to OFF. The iPhone will now take phone calls as usual, and the forwarding option will always be just another ON toggle away because the number becomes saved in the options. Enjoy your peace and quiet!

Cheers to some helpful posts at ATT Forums and iLounge for the voicemail number retrieval trick. By the way, this will also work on phones other than iPhone by using *#67# to find the voicemail, then *21*number# to enable call forwarding. That manual approach to forwarding can be ended at any time by using ##002# to go back to normal again. Note that most Android phones have the Forwarding setting in their phone options so the manual trick is really only necessary for pre-smartphones.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Camila says:

    Does this work for whatsapp calls?

  2. Trish says:

    Can you ‘forward’ particular numbers, so only those numbers go direct to voicemail?

  3. Bonny says:

    Thanks a lot. This really helped.

  4. Miss Xo says:

    I’m the idiot who didn’t read the entire article and went and dialed *#67# saw the screen that only had a dismiss option at the bottom so I pressed it and went back to read and realized that I was supposed to write down a freaking number !!!!what do I do now ?

  5. Ghost says:

    Perfect! SSN scammers may now leave me alone while they order a pizza or call the non emergency line or something useful. Oh btw, sprint doesn’t seem to support this also so I searched call forwarding in the settings search bar and pulled up what I needed to forward calls.

  6. May says:

    This will not work well if you are roaming as call forward will cost u money so you end up having to receive the call and dial out (if non exisiting number maybe no charge)

  7. Jo says:

    i Only want my i6s to ring when the calls are from people in my contact list. I want Random numbers and no caller I’d to go directly to voice mail. How can I do that???
    I’m desperate to get rid of the 10 calls each day I receive from salesmen.

  8. Fraunk says:

    Worked perfectly! Thanks for the easy to understand instructions!

  9. Angela says:

    Just turn off “phone” under cellular data instead of all of this.

  10. Mary says:

    Oh and when you go to settings and then phone , there is no forward call in an iPhone 6s, at least not mine

  11. Mary says:

    This doesn’t work. I dialed the *#67# and got s busy signal and it didnt show anything…

  12. Eein S. Edward says:

    It doesn’t work. Ive tried more than 15 times.

  13. Colin says:

    Do you have any ideas as to how to reject calls with “No Caller Id”? Wuuld be very interested in that. Or make it that these always go straight to Voicemail where one can put a message about rejectin No Caller Id calls.

  14. Stan says:

    Thanks. Just what I need!

  15. nad isaac says:

    I just hit button calls *#67# it’s bout if I want to cancel it do I need to get back normal incoming calls

  16. Sharon says:

    Worked great thanks!!

  17. E says:

    An iPhone 5c on Verizon requires a call to customer service. The configuration for managing Call Forward is available only through Verizon. It is an “all or none” option and cannot be enabled directly onto the phone for manual control by the user.

    Not ideal but at least it stops those annoying interruptions when you are on a call.

  18. Wasim hashmi says:

    I have iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, both have own numbers, well I synchronised with same Apple ID, now issue is when I call from one phone to someone the call records appears on both phones, even I shut off the option of calls on other devices

  19. Alison says:

    I couldn’t get the voice mail number. when I pushed *#67# and then Call, I got a recording saying it was an incorrect code.

  20. Nicolas says:

    I wonder what would happen if you forwarded it to your mobile number : )

  21. Mae says:

    Very helpful! Can enjoy some me-time while traveling without being disturbed 🙊

  22. Winnie says:

    Thank you very much, this helped a lot unlike some spammy sites.

  23. Adam says:

    If this is activated and someone rings me, will it come up saying I have a missed call from them or not?

  24. Siddiq says:

    That’s a kool solution. Tnx….😉👍

  25. Thom Garner says:

    The technique described for finding out your VM # may work for AT&T but doesn’t seem to work for Verizon customers.

  26. Hammy says:

    this was a very helpful article. Thank you very much.

  27. Zipora says:

    Thank you, much appreciated. Because, I live in a rural area, I use my hotspot as an ISP, l and this works perfect to keep me from being bumped off the hotspot every time someone calls. :)

  28. data says:

    Good workaround but once you off call forwarding, it does save the number for future use. Mine is using iOS 8.1.3

  29. riley3212 says:

    Thanks my work pays my cell bill but I don’t want to be bothered on weekends. Now I can forward to voicemail and listen to see if its important or not. Thanks

  30. Rony says:

    How can I delete the forward number and choose another one ?

  31. Lisa Marie says:

    Thank you! Fabulous read!

  32. Reed Gilboy says:

    Thank you very much. Great article

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