How To Configure Auto-Reply Responders for Incoming Texts on iPhones

The iPhone has a handy auto-reply feature that allows you to automatically send a text message response when you receive an incoming text message. This can be useful in situations when you cannot respond right away, such as when driving, in a meeting, or sleeping.

Configuring auto-reply responders on an iPhone is easy to set up. Here is a step-by-step guide:


  • An iPhone model running iOS 15 or later
  • The Driving Focus configured (instructions below)

Step 1: Set Up the Driving Focus

The auto-reply feature is built into the iPhone’s Driving Focus mode. To set this up:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Focus
  3. Tap Driving to configure the Driving Focus specifically
  4. Toggle Driving on to enable it

If you don’t already have a Driving Focus set up, tap the + icon in the top right corner to add it.

Step 2: Enable Auto-Reply

  1. In the Driving Focus settings, tap Auto-Reply
  2. Choose who you want to auto-reply to:
  • No One: Disables auto-reply
  • Recents: Replies to recent contacts
  • Favorites: Replies to favorite contacts
  • All Contacts: Replies to everyone
  1. Edit the auto-reply message or keep the default

Step 3. Turn On Driving Focus

To activate the auto-reply:

  1. Open Control Center
  2. Long press on the Focus icon
  3. Tap Driving

The Driving Focus icon will appear in the status bar to indicate it’s on.

Now when anyone in your selected auto-reply list sends you a text, they will automatically receive your customized auto-reply message.

Customizing Your Auto-Reply

You can customize the auto-reply message to say whatever makes sense for your situation. For example:

  • “I’m driving right now and can’t respond. I’ll get back to you when I arrive.”
  • “I’m in a meeting at the moment. I’ll reply when I’m free later today.”
  • “I’m about to board a flight and will be unavailable. I’ll respond when I land in a few hours.”

Allowing Exceptions

If you still want to receive texts from certain important contacts even when Driving Focus is on, you can configure exceptions:

  1. In Driving Focus Settings, tap Allowed Notifications
  2. Tap People
  3. Tap Allow Notifications From
  4. Select the contacts you want to allow notifications for

You will now get notifications from these contacts even when your auto-reply is active.

Auto-Reply Considerations

Keep a few things in mind when using auto-reply:

  • Auto-reply only works for incoming texts, not calls
  • Your device needs to remain powered on with cellular connectivity
  • Some users report auto-reply can be intermittent even when set up correctly
  • The Driving Focus name is never shared, only that notifications are silenced
  • Replying “urgent” to the auto-reply text will notify you anyway

Custom Focus Modes

While Driving is the only default Focus mode with auto-reply, you can create custom Focus modes and apply the same auto-reply steps:

  1. Tap the + icon in Focus Settings
  2. Give the custom Focus a name like “Sleeping”
  3. Tap Auto-Reply and configure it
  4. Turn on the custom Focus when needed

The process is identical to the Driving Focus. This allows you to auto-reply in situations besides just driving.


  • Auto-reply for incoming iPhone texts can be enabled through the Driving Focus
  • Customize the auto-reply message to share your unavailable status
  • Allow exceptions for priority contacts to notify you anyway
  • Create custom Focus modes to auto-reply when sleeping, in meetings, etc.
  • Replying “urgent” will notify you even when auto-reply is active

Configuring auto-reply on your iPhone for incoming texts is simple and helps communicate your availability status when you cannot respond personally. Give it a try for driving, meetings, or other Focus modes.