National News

Turning a Deaf Ear to Chattering Group Texts

Posted May 31, 2018 4:28 p.m. EDT

Your family has roped you into another group text about politics, which has your phone buzzing like crazy for the rest of the day. If you’re tired of the distraction, here’s how to deal with those annoying group messages without silencing everything else on your phone.

— Option One: Mute Notifications for a Group Message (iPhone and Android)

Both iPhones and Android phones have the ability to mute notifications on a conversation-by-conversation basis. That way, you can ignore group messages that don’t interest you, but still get notifications for all your other text messages. New messages will still appear in those muted conversations, and you can read them at your leisure — this merely stops your phone from dinging constantly as your relatives discuss the issue du jour.

If you’re using an iPhone, open the group message in question, tap the “i” icon in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen, and scroll down to the “Hide Alerts” switch. Flick that on, and you’ll no longer be bothered by notifications for that group.

Every Android phone is a little different, but you should be able to mute notifications by opening the group message in question, clicking the three dots in the upper-right-hand corner, and going to “People & Options” (or something similar). From that settings page, tap “Notifications” and turn them off.

— Option Two: Leave a Group Message Entirely (iPhone Only)

If you’re using an iPhone, you have another more aggressive option: leaving the group message entirely. Other group members will see that you’ve left, and their messages will not appear on your phone at all. This works only if the entire conversation is among iPhone users using iMessage (with the blue bubbles). If you have any non-iPhone users in the conversation, you’ll be able to mute it only as described above.

If it’s a blue-bubbled iMessage conversation with more than three people, though, you can open it, tap the “i” icon in the upper-right-hand corner, and scroll down to “Leave This Conversation.” Tap that button, and you will leave the conversation for good (or at least until someone starts a new group message with you on it).

— WhatsApp, Facebook and Other Apps

This annoyance isn’t limited to text messages. Most other messaging apps offer options to mute notifications and leave group messages. In WhatsApp, you can open the conversation, tap the menu button, and go to “Group Info” to turn off notifications or exit the group. In Facebook Messenger, head to the conversation’s options and turn notifications off or leave the group entirely. (You can also “ignore” the group, which will move it to “message requests” where you don’t have to see it, but the other recipients won’t be notified like they would if you left the group.)

When in doubt, any messaging app you’re using probably has this option — you just have to check the options for the message you want to ignore. Of course, you could also tell your aunt to stop messaging everyone with pictures of puppies, but if you’d rather not rock the boat, muting the conversation will suffice.