Few things are more embarrassing than your ringtone going off at precisely the wrong moment, especially if you weren't even supposed to have your iPhone switched on. Normally, you can silence your iPhone in one gesture using the silence toggle on its side; if that doesn't work, however, you have several other options.
Press the Button
Provided you've enabled the relevant option in the settings and your iPhone's screen isn't locked, pressing the "Volume Down" button will lower the volume of ringtones and other alerts. Hold the button down for a few seconds, and the volume will be set to the minimum. This does not entirely silence the iPhone, but the sounds coming from it will be so faint as to be nearly inaudible, especially if you keep it tucked inside your pocket or your bag. To ensure the volume buttons can control the volume of your iPhone's ringtone and alerts, open the Settings app, tap "Sounds" and set the "Change With Buttons" switch to "On."
No Ringtones, No Problem
If you want your iPhone to be completely silent all the time, the easiest way to do this is to simply disable all sounds. Open the Settings app, tap "Sounds," tap an entry in the "Sounds and Vibration Patterns" list and then tap "None." You can do this for every single alert type, except for the actual ringtone; if you want to silence that permanently, you'll need to create a custom, silent ringtone (see Resources), sync it to your iPhone and select it. While you're in the Sounds menu, make sure you also disable the "Lock Sounds" and "Keyboard Clicks" switches for a truly silent iPhone.
Silence on Demand
The iPhone's "Do Not Disturb" mode is designed to prevent you from being woken up by phone calls, but it can also serve as a quick silent switch. Open the Settings app, tap "Do Not Disturb" and configure the various options to your liking; depending on the use you intend to make of the feature, for example, you may want to disable the options that allow repeated calls and calls from contacts in your favorites to always ring through. From here, you can also set the feature to automatically activate and deactivate at specific hours. To switch the feature on or off manually, swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen to open the control center and then tap the crescent moon icon. When the feature is active, a crescent moon appears in the status bar, near the battery indicator.
Mind Your Apps
All alternatives to the silent switch, and even the silent switch itself, only mute certain select sounds, such as ringtones and alerts; others, including music, videos and app sounds, will still play, regardless of your settings. If this is a concern, go through all your apps and ensure their sounds are toggled off. Move apps that can't be silenced to their own folder to avoid accidentally launching them at the wrong moment.
Information in this article applies to iPhones running iOS 7. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.
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