I find ringtones and text tones fairly annoying, so my iPhone is almost always set to vibrate on silent mode. Unfortunately, that causes me to miss phone calls and text messages when the device isn’t in my hands or pockets. While I hate missing alerts, I’m still reluctant to switch to ring mode — and that’s where another iOS and iPadOS feature helps out.
Every iPhone model since the iPhone 4 has an LED flash on the rear, and so has almost all iPad Pro models and the newest iPad mini. The flash on these devices isn’t just for taking photos, recording videos, and seeing in the dark — you can also use it for LED alerts.
The LED flash on your iPhone or iPad is bright enough to see during the day, so it’s a great option when your device is face down on a table, couch, floor, etc. It’s even bright enough that I can usually see it flashing through my pockets.
You can set up LED alerts from the Hearing group in the Accessibility menu:
- iOS 13–15: Go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Hearing –> Audio/Visual
- iPadOS 13–15: Go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Hearing –> Audio/Visual
- iOS 12 and older: Go to Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> Hearing –> LED Flash for Alerts
Next, toggle on the “LED Flash for Alerts” switch. On newer systems, you’ll find the button at the bottom of the Audio/Visual menu. To ensure the LED flashes for notifications whenever you have the ring switch set to silent, toggle on the “Flash on Silent” switch that appears.
It’s an easy preference buried in your device’s settings that can help you catch more alerts and notifications on time when using silent mode. However, whenever you’re in a location where other people will be bothered by the flashing light, such as in a movie theater, you’ll want to disable LED flash alerts temporarily.
On iOS 13–14 and iPadOS 13–14, most LED flash alerts will be disabled whenever you activate Do Not Disturb. However, you’ll still see it for phone calls and FaceTime for allowed contacts via Settings –> Do Not Disturb –> Allow Calls From, and anyone who calls twice in a row if “Repeated Calls” is enabled.
Things are different on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 with the new Focus menu. In Settings –> Focus, anybody or any app authorized in the Allowed Notifications group will break through a focus such as Do Not Disturb. So you’ll want to create a focus with no allowed contacts or apps for situations like watching a film in a theater.
Another option for iOS 13–15 and iPadOS 13–15 is creating a custom shortcut that disables LED flash alerts whenever you need to. Start a new shortcut, name it something like “Toggle Flash Alerts,” then add the “Set LED Flash” action. Now choose to turn flash alerts on, off, or toggle them.
To make it a toggle, tap “Turn” in the action box and change it to “Toggle,” and that’s it. Otherwise, you’ll want to make the first action “Choose from List,” name the two options “Off” and “On,” then add the “Set LED Flash” below each choice and set each to the appropriate on/off position. That’s the most straightforward implementation.
Next, add it to your Home Screen for convenient access. When you need to toggle flash alerts, tap the shortcut’s icon. Tap it again to return to the previous state. If using the on/off shortcut, select “On” or “Off” to do just that.
There are other ways to toggle the shortcut on and off, such as Siri and Back Tap, so use the method you find works the best.
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