How to block contacts from calling, texting and emailing

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Make Like A Lego And Get Blocked
Here are all the details on how to block a number on iPhone.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Spam calls and text messages seem absolutely relentless these days — you’ll want to know how to block a number on your iPhone to keep your sanity. Luckily, it’s easy. There are a variety of ways you can stop unwanted calls. You can block an incoming phone call or text message. And you can send unknown callers directly to Live Voicemail.

If you’re blocking a person in your contacts list, it doesn’t matter which app you block them from — Messages, Phone, Contacts, Mail, Settings — they will be blocked everywhere. Here’s how to block calls from unknown numbers on iPhone and generally keep spammers at bay.

How to block contacts from phoning, texting and emailing

If you remember the good old days before cellphones became ubiquitous, you know the serenity that comes from being unreachable. There were no late-night text messages from your boss, no spam emails phishing for your credit card number. Yes, you might receive a few unwanted phone calls, but they arrived only in your home or office — not when you were playing golf, lounging by the pool or sitting down to dinner in a fancy restaurant.

The iPhone changed all that. And while you can set up Focus modes to gain some peace and quiet in certain settings, nothing beats blocking a spammer for good. Follow the steps below to keep unwanted calls, texts and emails at bay.

Table of contents: How to block contacts from calling, texting and emailing

Block a number on iPhone

Block a number on iPhone from Messages
If it’s a group chat, you can tap on an individual contact and tap Block Caller as well.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you get a spam text or you want to block someone, you can do it directly from Messages. Tap on the contact icon at the top, tap Info, then scroll down and tap Block Caller. You will no longer receive incoming texts or phone calls from the contact.

It’s easy to do from the Phone app, too. Tap the Recents tab on the bottom. Tap the next to a phone call log, then at the bottom of the screen, tap Block Caller. The process is similar from inside the FaceTime app as well.

Block a contact from Mail
Of course this is just an example; you shouldn’t unsubscribe from the Cult of Mac Today newsletter.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

From Mail, you can block an unwarranted contact, too. Tap on an email, then tap the Reply button in the toolbar at the bottom. For some reason, this Reply button brings up a full menu of options, whereas the other Reply button at the bottom of a message instantly creates a reply. Scroll down the list and tap Block Sender at the bottom. Emails from blocked contacts are automatically moved to the trash. If you want emails from blocked contacts to stay in your inbox (for some reason) you can change this behavior. Go to Settings > Mail > Blocked Sender Options and check Leave in Inbox.

Add someone to your block list in Settings

Block a number on iPhone from Settings
I have a rather exhaustive list of scammers I’ve been irritated by.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You might want to preemptively block someone before they have the chance to text, call or email. Maybe you switched from Android to iPhone and want to add in your blocked contacts — or maybe you made a mortal enemy today.

No matter the situation, open Settings. For phone numbers and text messages, go to Settings > Phone > Blocked Contacts and tap Add New. If you don’t see it, the button is at the very bottom of the list. To block an email address, go to Settings > Mail > Blocked and tap Add New, following the same procedure. (Note: If you add someone from your contacts list with both a phone number and email address, they will automatically be added to both block lists.)

If you don’t already have the person as a contact, you need to create one first. Unfortunately, you cannot preemptively block a phone number or email address by typing one in. Go to Phone > Contacts (or the Contacts app) and tap + in the upper right. Type in the phone number and email address, then give it a name. Next, go back to Settings and add this person to your block list.

Pro tip: If you don’t want the blocked person’s name to live in your contact list, you can name the contact “Blocked” — and simply add the contact information for all the different people you want to block to this one contact. It’s an easy way to aggregate all the people you never want to hear from again.

Unblock a contact or manage your blocked contacts

If you make a mistake and accidentally block somebody you shouldn’t have — or they make a remarkable turnaround and you want to hear from them again — it’s easy to unblock a contact. You won’t be able to see the messages or emails you stopped yourself from seeing, but you will receive them going forward.

To unblock a person, go to either Settings > Phone > Blocked Contacts or Settings > Mail > Blocked. Then tap Edit in the top right. Tap then tap Delete on the contact you want to unblock.

Silence incoming phone calls on iPhone

Live voicemail on iOS 17: “Hey Griffin listen I think the deal is off I am I'm not feeling too good about this lightning cable, wholesaling, business, call mothers, intuition or something”
Figure out whether it’s important enough to pick up or not.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Obviously, you can’t block every shady number on your iPhone in advance. There are simply too many spammers in the world. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to shield yourself from all unknown calls. By utilizing a combination of two great iOS features, you can radically reduce the number of junk calls you get. Those two features are called Silence Unknown Callers and Live Voicemail, and they work well together. (According to Apple, “Live Voicemail is available only in English in the United States and Canada, excluding Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”)

Live Voicemail falls somewhere in the gray area between accepting and declining a phone call. Tap this button and your iPhone stops ringing and the call goes directly to voicemail. However, it creates a live transcription of the voicemail even as the person on the other line is talking. So if the call turns out to be important, you can pick it up and answer at any time.

Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers: A killer combination for blocking unwanted iPhone calls

If you use Live Voicemail in conjunction with Silence Unknown Callers, you can reduce the ringing without the fear of missing out on that one actually important call you might get.

Live Voicemail is a smart feature. Any number you’ve called recently will automatically be let through. That means the pharmacy you just dialed to fill a prescription, or the pizza place you ordered delivery from, can get through to you if they need to call back with a follow-up question.

Go to Settings > Phone and scroll down to enable Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers. You won’t be sorry.

More iPhone basics

Now that you know how to block a number on an iPhone and keep spam texts and emails at bay, why not learn more about how to get the most out of your device? Here are some more iPhone how-tos for your enjoyment.

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