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How to prevent butt dialing calls from your iPhone

Here's how to avoid accidental calls from your iPhone so you're not a pain in the butt.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Phone in pocket
Olga Ihnatsyeva/Getty Images

We've probably all been guilty of butt dialing, aka pocket dialing. Nestled in your pocket, your phone accidentally rubs against a part of your body, thereby placing a call to a random person in your contact list. 

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That person waits there, wondering why you called but aren't saying anything. To avoid these embarrassing situations, there are ways to stop butt dials from your iPhone.

How to avoid dialing unwanted calls from your iPhone

1. Lock your iPhone

How often do you simply put your iPhone in your pocket when you no longer need it? Well, that's the problem. To avoid butt dials, you need to lock your phone before you put it away. Otherwise, the wrong screen may pop up and trigger a call. Simply tap the on/off button to go into lock mode and then place the phone in your pocket.

Lock your iPhone
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

2. Enable or confirm your passcode

Next, you'll want to set up a passcode if you don't already have one. This is not only to prevent butt dials but also to protect your phone from unwanted access. For this, go to Settings and select Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode. Swipe toward the bottom of the screen and tap the option for Turn Passcode On.

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By default, you're asked to create a six-digit passcode. To vary this, tap the link for Passcode Options and choose whether you want to use a custom alphanumeric code, a custom numeric code, or a four-digit numeric code.

The more digits, the easier it is to prevent butt dials and unwanted access. Type the code you wish to use, tap Next, retype the code, and then tap Done. Type the password for your Apple ID to confirm the new passcode.

Enable or confirm your passcode
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

3. Require Face ID or Touch ID to unlock the phone

Make sure you've enabled your phone's biometric authentication to unlock the screen. Assuming Face ID or Touch ID is already activated, go to Settings and select Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode. Enter your passcode and then turn on the switch for iPhone Unlock if it's turned off.

Require Face ID or Touch ID to unlock the phone
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

4. Decrease the Auto-Lock time

If you keep forgetting to lock your phone before putting it in your pocket, you may want to set a specific time for it to automatically lock. Go to Settings, select Display & Brightness, and then select Auto-Lock.

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Setting a lower number will place your phone in Lock mode more quickly but may interfere with your current activity. Instead, you can set a higher number for normal operation and switch to a lower number for times when you're putting your phone in your pocket more frequently.

Decreasing the Auto-Lock time
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

5. Turn off Raise to Wake

The Raise to Wake feature automatically wakes your phone up from Lock mode if you raise it a specific way. But even with the phone in your pocket, certain types of movement could be misinterpreted as it is being raised. To guard against this, go to Settings, select Display & Brightness, and then turn off the switch for Raise to Wake.

Turning off Raise to Wake
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

6. Disable calls from your Lock Screen

Your Lock Screen may be set to allow returned calls, increasing the odds of butt dialing someone who's called you. To disable this option, go to Settings and select Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode. After entering your passcode, swipe down the screen to the section for Allow Access When Locked and turn off the switch for Return Missed Calls.

Disable calls from your Lock screen
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

7. Disable the touchscreen

As a final resort, you can disable your iPhone's entire touchscreen via a feature called Guided Access. For this, head to Settings and select Accessibility. Swipe down the screen to the General section, tap the option for Guided Access, and then turn on its switch.

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Next, open an app or screen on your phone that's relatively innocuous and won't accidentally trigger a phone call. Triple-press the on/off button and select Guided Access. At the Guided Access screen, tap Option at the lower left corner. Turn off the switch for Touch and tap Start.

Type and then retype a passcode that will let you exit Guided Access. You're now in Guided Access mode with the current screen on display and the touchscreen inaccessible. To exit Guided Access mode, triple press the on/off button, type the passcode that you set, and then tap End at the Guided Access screen.

To go into Guided Access mode at any time, just launch the app or window you wish to see, triple-tap the on/off button, and tap Guided Access. To end this mode, triple-press the same button, enter the passcode, and tap End.

Disable calls from your Lock screen
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET
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