Why and How to Insert a "Pause" or "Wait" Key on Your iPhone

Believe it or not, there are a few really cool tricks when it comes to entering phone numbers on your iPhone. In today's tech talk, I will cover two of them... "pause" and "wait".

You've been there, done that. You need to hop on to a conference call or call into a business where you are forced to enter an automated menu system. Yuk! It can be annoying when you dial the main number, wait for a list of options, choose the one you want only to wait again until the next set of options... especially if you call this number often. While I can't do anything about that unavoidable runaround, I can help to automate the process for you.

The next time you enter a phone number for someone in Contacts, try pressing the "+*#" button in the lower left-hand corner of the number pad. When you do, you will reveal two new options:


On the left, you will see "pause" and on the right, you will see "wait".

Tapping the "pause" button will insert a comma. When this number is eventually dialed, it will pause dialing for a few seconds at each comma, then resume dialing the numbers that come after the comma. Let's use this example:


When dialed, your iPhone will dial this phone number (which happens to be Google's Customer Service number), pause for a few seconds, then proceed to dial the remaining 9. If a few seconds isn't log enough, try adding more commas in sequence (i.e.: 6502530000,,,9). You can also use commas in several places throughout the number (i.e.: 6502530000,9,3,4). This is especially useful when navigating through a complicated phone menu system with several layers of options. Of course the benefit of using this method is when you already know the options you want to press ahead of time. If you aren't sure which options you will need to press, then you will need to listen to the menu.

Now let's talk about the "wait" button. This is essentially the same concept as the pause button with one major difference... instead of pausing for a few seconds, it will insert an indefinite pause... until you press a hidden button that will tell the phone app to continue dialing. This is a really great feature to use when calling into a conference bridge (like GoToMeeting).

When you press the "wait" button, a semi-colon will be injected into the number string. Let's use this example:


When this number is dialed, an indefinite pause will be used after it dials the initial number (1-213-929-4130) until you press the button telling the phone app when to continue dialing. This button is located in the lower left-hand corner of the screen during the call:


This is useful because sometimes, you just don't know how long the pause will need to be in order to meet the requirements of the phone system you are calling.

Note: while the "pause" and "wait" buttons can be extremely useful when entering phone numbers in Contacts or as part of a calendar event, it's useless when dialing a number using the number pad. The reasoning is that if you are manually dialing a number, you will probably need to manually navigate the system you are calling. 

Posted on April 2, 2015 and filed under How To, iOS, iPhone, Opinion.