Muted on Phone: How Do You Know?

Here’s how to tell when someone muted you on the phone:

Depending on the app, there are various chimes, audio cues, and visual aids that let you know when you or another person is muted. 

On plain old telephone calls, you often don’t have a direct indicator to let you know when you have been muted.

In these cases, you have to use context clues to determine what happened.

So if you want to learn all about how to know when someone muted you on the phone, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

Muted on Phone: How Do You Know? (Input or Output)

Did They Mute Your Voice or Their Own on the Phone? (2 Directions)

It’s important to understand that muting can go in two directions.

You can mute yourself on a call to prevent the other party from hearing you. 

Similarly, they can mute you so that they can’t hear you. In the next sections, we’ll go over this in clearer detail together to avoid confusion as we delve deeper into the topic.

#1 Your Inputs Are Muted on Their Phone

When someone mutes you, we can say that they silenced your input.

They will be unable to hear your voice or any sounds coming from your end of the call.

This can be done on modern digital phones and with calling software (such as Google Voice).

With most phones and apps, there is no chime or overt indicator that you have been muted by someone else.

Instead, you have to use context clues. 

You will try to talk to them, and they just won’t respond.

This can be tricky, but if you have any other means of communicating with them, you can let them know that you think you are muted and go from there.

#2 Their Outputs Are Muted on Their Phone

The other type of muting is when you silence sounds coming from your own end.

Or, to use the same example as above, the person you called mutes themselves so that you cannot hear anything coming from them.

There are various reasons to do this.

Someone might be coughing or sneezing and want to spare you the sound. 

There might also be an in-person interruption while they are on the phone.

Muting their sounds simplifies the conversation so they can sort through everything.

When the other person mutes their outputs, most one-on-one calls won’t give you an indicator. Instead, you’ll notice that there is suddenly no sound from the other end. 

Especially if you were getting background noise before, it can be easy to tell.

The hard part is that you might not be able to distinguish between being muted and a call disconnecting.

Once again, an alternative form of communication can clarify things (like sending a text).

How Can You Tell for Standard One-on-One Calls? (2 Things)

So far, we have discussed one-on-one calling.

There are conference-calling features and apps, like Zoom, Discord, Teams, and more.

While the principles behind muting are similar for these apps, the application can look, sound, and feel a bit different.

#1 Activating Mute

Muting is usually pretty easy.

If you are using a digital phone, you will typically have separate options for muting and silencing the call.

The mute option will prevent you from transmitting any sound from your end to the other caller.

Silencing will prevent sounds they send from being played on your end. You can also adjust the volume as needed.

If you have a call app, you might have different buttons for muting, silencing, or deafening.

The convention for what each button does depends on the software.

Suffice it to say that the options are there; you just have to parse through which one is paired with the action you want to take.

#2 Muting Calls vs. Blocking Calls

It is also possible to mute a call before it even connects.

Some might also call this silencing or blocking calls.

This will prevent the ringer from making noise when the call comes through.

Depending on the settings used, it can also prevent a visual display from notifying you that there is a call.

This is a digital phone feature and is not typically available on landlines.

To block calls, you often have a silence option available when you are notified of the call.

You can also preemptively block callers so that their attempts to contact you are always silenced.

Like with other forms of muting, if you are calling and someone chooses this option, you will have no direct way to discern that this is what happened.

The phone will simply ring until it goes to voicemail or you hang up.

How Can You Tell With Conference Calls? (3 Things)

So far, we have discussed one-on-one calling.

There are conference-calling features and apps, like Zoom, Discord, Teams, and more. 

While the principles behind muting are similar for these apps, the application can look, sound, and feel a bit different.

#1 Visual Aids

The first thing to note is that conference calling apps usually have visual aids.

These aids will let you know when anyone in the conversation is actively muted or deafened.

If they are muted, they will not transmit any sound to the group. If they are deafened, they will not hear any sounds coming from the group.

The indicators vary from app to app, but typically the mute indicator will look like a picture of a microphone with a line through it.

The deafen indicator usually looks like a pair of headphones with a line through it.

While these indicators are present, there are also sometimes invisible mute options. As an example, if you are in a Discord conversation, you can mute individual people.

You will not hear them, and they will not receive an indicator that you have them muted.

But, if you use the general mute (for your own transmissions) or deafen buttons, everyone in the conversation will know.

#2 Chimes

These apps also typically have audio cues that tell you when someone is muted, deafened, connected, or disconnected.

These chimes are intended to help you keep up with who is actively participating in the conversation without having to look at the application. 

The sounds vary by app, so it’s best to go through them on an app that you prefer to use.

#3 Moderating Calls

It is also possible for conference calls to have a moderator or administrator.

Typically, this person can mute or unmute people on the call at will. 

Depending on the app, the people may or may not be notified when they are muted.

Because of this, it’s usually best for a moderator to clarify how they are using the mute feature so that people can keep up with the conversation.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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