How To: Configure Do Not Disturb mode in Android Marshmallow

With so many features on a smartphone, it’s not enough to place it in silent mode whenever you need some quiet time. Perhaps you’d still like to hear incoming calls and texts as to not miss anything important in this department, but at the same time muting notifications for various other apps (God knows there are plenty) would let you sleep soundly at night or perform other activities without being bothered by stuff that’s neither urgent or important.

Android 5.0 Lollipop made a shy attempt at implementing a Do Not Disturb mode that some devices didn’t even get at full functionality. For example, the Interruptions menu (found under Settings -> Sounds & Notifications) has a Downtime schedule that’s completely missing from Samsung Galaxy S5 and possibly other devices I may not be aware of. This is where you can set the days of the week and time interval during which only priority interruptions (as defined by the user) are allowed to arrive.

With that said, Android Marshmallow aims to significantly improve Lollipop’s Priority notifications and Downtime functionality, which are now contained by the new Do not disturb function.

Easy access

Given the usefulness of DND it only makes sense it should be rather easy to turn it on/off, therefore you can find its shortcut in the Quick Settings tray.

Android Marshmallow - Do Not Disturb quick toggle

You can either tap on the icon to enable/disable the feature or tap on the text below the icon to open a quick menu where you can set DND to block all notifications, allow only alarms or priority notifications until a certain hour or you turn it off manually.

Android Marshmallow - Do Not Disturb quick options

Defining priority interruptions

As I mentioned above, ‘Priority interruptions’ were available in Android Lollipop as well but now they’re much more useful thanks to the new options offered by ‘Do not disturb’.

To define priority notifications launch the Settings app and navigate to Sound & notification then tap on ‘Do not disturb’. Here, select ‘Priority only allows’ and then you’ll be able to select what type of notifications will be included in your priority interruptions.

Android Marshmallow - Priority only settings

This menu basically lets you select whatever types of notifications you want to see while in DND. These include alarms, reminders, messages, calls and events. Despite the alarms option being present, for now it is greyed out, which means Do Not Disturb will always let alarms ring. Also, in the event of an emergency call from a contact that’s not whitelisted there is the ‘Repeat callers’ option.

I must say this particular option is very similar with one from Windows Phone’s (now Windows Mobile) Quiet Hours feature, except in that case the ring would come through if someone calls twice in 3 minutes. While that can certainly suggest an emergency or at least something important, I’m not sure that calling twice within 15 minutes is the same. I would definitely like to see an option to change this time interval on both Android and Windows Mobile.

To customize priority Messages and Calls, tap on either and a menu with four options will be displayed.

Android Marshmallow - Priority only calls

First, choose whether you want to give priority to notifications for reminders and calendar events. (The option to silence alarms is grayed out for whatever reason.)

Next, review the priority notifications options for Messages and Phone calls. set your priority preferences by tapping either “Messages” or “Calls.” when you do, a menu pops open with four options:

  • From anyone – with this option enabled even people that are not your contacts can reach you
  • From contacts only – you’ll get notifications for messages and/or calls made only by people you added to your Contacts app
  • From starred contacts only – just the contacts you marked as favorite in the Contacts app will have priority notifications
  • None – the last option is self-explanatory. No call or message notification comes through.

Customizing Downtime

Lollipop’s scarce Downtime function has been vastly improved in Marshmallow. It lets you limit notifications during specific intervals and during that time, you’ll receive only priority interruptions with sound alerts. The rest of notifications will arrive as well but with no sound, vibration or the screen waking up.

To customize Downtime, navigate to Settings -> Sound & notification -> Do not disturb -> Automatic rules.

Android Marshmallow - Do Not Disturb automatic rules

There are built-in presets for weekends, weeknights and events but you can add as many rules as you need.

To begin with, it would be a good idea to first customize the existing presets. In our guide we used Weekend as an example so go ahead and tap this option.

Android Marshmallow - Do Not Disturb Weekend rules

Obviously, if you don’t want to use this rule, you can turn it off completely using the switch but if you do need it you can set the days you want the preset to include as well as start and end times for it. Also, you can customize the behavior of ‘Do not disturb’ for this particular preset and you can opt for Alarms only, Priority only or Total silence.

The Event preset can also be very useful if you’re frequently meeting with customers and partners, attending staff meetings and other work or personal events. This option can make sure the notifications you choose won’t go off during events listed on your calendar. All you have to do is enable the Event preset, select your calendar and a default reply status as well as the type of notifications you want to still receive during calendar events.

Android Marshmallow - Do Not Disturb add rule

The last thing you can do in this section of the DND feature is to create additional rules.  Custom rules can be based on specific dates and time intervals or on calendar events, while the rest of the process is just like for the presets.

You can enable/disable a rule at any time, but also delete it by tapping on its name then once more on the trash can icon found in the upper-right corner.

Setting up notifications on a per app basis

Besides all the notification types you can enable for the ‘Priority only’ option of the ‘Do not disturb’ feature, you can further customize them for each app. To do it, launch the Settings app and tap on Sound & notification once more.

Now, scroll down and select App notifications then select the app for which you want to change the notification settings. You can completely disable notifications for the app using the Block all slider. Turning on the ‘Treat as priority’ option will ensure you’ll be alerted by this app’s notifications even when DND is set to ‘Priority only’.

Android Marshmallow - App notifications settings

Just in case you’re wondering, the ‘Allow peeking’ option is the setting that enables Heads up notifications for the selected app (you can read more about it in this guide).

There’s always a chance you might change your mind about an app’s notification behavior and you can quickly access this screen from a notification sent by the app in question. Simply press and hold on the notification until the info button shows up (“i”) then tap on it and it will open the ‘App notifications’ menu.

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