How to mute iMessage threads, and spot those you accidentally silenced

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shhh mute iMessage
Shut those annoying conversations up right now.
Photo: Shawn Rossi/Flickr CC

Have you ever had your regular (important) iMessages swamped by a flurry of notifications for that inane group conversations about matcha-flavored KitKats? Or maybe you want to keep your iPad’s notifications switched on, but you want to mute iMessages from your boss until Monday, because she has no concept of boundaries?

If so, you need iMessage’s handy conversation-muting feature. It’s so easy to use that you may have turned it on by mistake. If you’re no longer getting alerts for certain messages, you may want to check this, too.

Mute iMessage threads

Toggling do not disturb is easy. Perhaps too easy.
Toggling do not disturb is easy. Perhaps too easy.
Photo: Cult of Mac

iMessage alerts can be controlled by the usual notifications settings, and are automatically switched off whenever you’re in Do Not Disturb mode. But those settings affect all conversations in the Messages app. Today, we’ll see how you can mute a single message thread, or messages from individuals, while leaving the rest active.

To mute alerts, open up the Messages app and find the person/group chat you want to silence. Then, tap the little Details icon ⓘ, find the switch for Hide Alerts, and toggle it on. Now any new messages from that group (or person) will be suppressed. If and when you decide to unmute the conversation, just hit the switch again. Unfortunately, this is manual-only. You can’t choose to silence a conversation for a specific period of time.

WhatsApp, for instance, lets you mute conversations for eight hours, one week or a whole year. By contrast, once an iMessage conversation is off, it remains off until you turn it back on again. Which can lead to problems.

Fixing accidentally muted iMessage conversations

The little moon icon shows muted conversations.
The little moon icon shows muted conversations.
Photo: Cult of Mac

You already know the fix for this — toggle the notifications in the Details ⓘ section of the message thread. But how do you know which conversations you have muted, perhaps by mistake? That’s easy. Whenever a conversation is muted, a tiny crescent-moon icon appears next to it in the main iMessage list screen (or the conversation sidebar on the iPad). I discovered this when The Lady seemed to be ignoring my messages, and had somehow (accidentally, she claims) muted only my alerts.

Bonus content: Using the Details ⓘ screen

While you’re in the Details screen, you may want to take a look around. In here you’ll find a map showing the location of the contact (if they’re sharing their location with you), as well as the option to send/share your own location. You can also toggle read receipts per conversation (switched on for your husband, and off for your boss, for instance). And in a group conversation, you can opt out of the chat entirely.

And finally, you can quickly call or FaceTime the person/people in the message thread. This is how I FaceTime people, because the FaceTime app itself must be the worst piece of software Apple ever designed.