How To Add Hard (Wait) And Soft (2-3 Sec) Pauses To Your Android Contacts

This article describes how to add hard and soft pauses to your contacts' phone numbers on your Android phone.

These tricks are quite useful, but it surprises me how relatively unpublished and unknown they are.

What's This All About?

I'm sure you can think of a situation where having some sort of a pause in a phone number could save quite a bit of time, as you could program the whole sequence once and never enter it manually again.

For example, I have a calling card which asks me a whole bunch of information, like the language I want the menu in, my account and pin, and the phone number I want to dial.

All these things would be a huge pain to enter every time, and without having any kind of pausing mechanism, they would get sent prematurely.

Enter hard and soft pauses.

Hard Pause

A hard pause is a pause that will wait for your confirmation to send the rest of the digits when reached.

You can use it when there is an undefined amount of time that can pass before sending the numbers would do anything. For example, if you are calling a company directory which can take anywhere from 1 to 10 seconds to pick up before you can enter an extension, you want to use a Hard Pause.

For example, if you want to dial extension 1337 after calling 555-555-5555 which requires you to press 1 to dial by extension, enter

555-555-5555 w 1 w 1337

To add a hard pause, pull up a contact, switch to the alphabet mode, and enter w.

Update: a semicolon ; seems to be equivalent to w. Thanks to everyone who reported this.

How To Add Hard (Wait) And Soft (2-3 Sec) Pauses To Your Android Contacts

Soft Pause

A soft pause will pause dialing for 2-3 seconds and then carry on automatically.

For example, my calling card number always picks up within 1 second and accepts input after another 3, so I can enter the number like this:

555-999-9999 pp 123456

To add a soft pause, you enter a letter p.

Update: a comma , seems to be equivalent to p. Thanks to everyone who reported this.

 How To Add Hard (Wait) And Soft (2-3 Sec) Pauses To Your Android Contacts

And this is how this pie is baked, folks.

By the way, for those wondering, p and w are the only 2 letters Android allows in a phone number - the others simply cannot be entered, to avoid confusion.

Note: you cannot enter pauses in the dialer - it has to be done while editing a contact in your People app.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • http://www.planetandroid.com Ed Burnette

    Thanks for the tip! That could come in handy.

  • Ben

    I use a comma in the number for a soft pause and it seems to work.

  • darren

    I also use a comma for a short pause, more commas longer the pause. Any one know a command to disconnect automatically? Cheers

    • Kane

      I don't think there is a command like that.

  • Waacow

    On Nexus one, the hard wait is semicolon (;) and soft pause is comma (,)

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Thanks to everyone who shared the tips about the alternative keys "," and ";". I've updated the post now to reflect this new information.

    • ricpue

      Confirmed also semicolon (;) works for hard pause on MetroPCS LG MS690. I am using it to make international calls using a calling card.

  • cde

    On the G1, this can be done from the dialer. Pauses and waits do not start until after the call is answered as well.

  • http://www.iamnoopur.com Noopur Julka

    Thanks . In Samsung Galaxy 5, It displays ; and , with corresponding alphabets. :D

  • Steve

    Thanks! Just received a HTC Incredible S and was setting up my work voice mail and couldn't find this documented in the manual. Googled and found this site.

  • Erich

    The limit on entering letters in the dial er depends on the phone and dialer you have. My stock EVO wouldn't allow me to paste or put letters in, my Droid X2 does. For the EVO I downloaded a different dialer application (I love Android; try doing that on your iPhone... not impossible, but much less user friendly), that allowed both.

  • Ray

    My nexus thinks the number is a url, any tips on how to force it to see the numbers as a phone number? Thanks

  • Jonathan

    On T-Mobile G2 (Android 2.3.4), comma and semicolon are indeed allowed in the dialer. Further, pressing Menu shows options for "Add 2-sec pause" and "Add wait," which insert a comma and semicolon, respectively.

  • laix

    why use ; and , to instead w and p, is there some reason?

  • Meg

    We now are starting to go to Androids as well as Blackberry's and the commas work great on the BB as pauses, and I need them for a MML in a location field for a meeting notice. I can not get the pauses to work for the Androids in the Location field of a meeting notice, they seem to work in a phone field for contacts but that's it. Anybody know if there is something that can work. Thanks

  • Steve

    I can insert [p]auses and [w]aits when dialing a number on my HTC Desire S - simply long press the * key for a [p]ause and the # key for a [w]ait. :)

    BTW, the p and w have been around for many years - they worked on all my Nokia symbian phones and on Windows Mobile.

  • Mike

    This was extremely helpful! I have a daily conference call that requires me to dial in and then enter a long ID number. When I am on the road that can be tricky, if not dangerous. Now I use a voice command to dial and my hands never leave the steering wheel. Excellent!

  • EricJ

    My Galaxy 2s erases "," from every contact number at shutdown. Any solution? I've re-entered these contacts new manually from phone keyboard, re-entered them by editing existing contacts. They work well for days then commas disappear after shutdown.

  • John

    I am using 
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.technochakra.meetingautodialer&hl=en to dial into my conferences and it automatically takes care of the wait and pauses.  

  • Gary

    I have the Sony Xperia Pro and this phone doesn't accept 'p' or 'w' in the phone numbers. It does accept * and # as per Steve's response below

  • Brenda M

    My new Android does not offer any letters or , in the dialer - just the period. Has anyone had experience with using . instead of , ?

  • Shawn

    Also... it's now blatant on the ICS or the Samsung Galaxy III under symbols

  • Dave

    I stopped at a verizon store and they told me this could not be done. I was able to on a previous phone. This worked but you must edit the phone number in your contacts. I also had to enter 2 pauses between the phone number and pin number.

  • DarB

    My samsung galaxy s2 on the ICS does have the symbols, but still does not work properly. It adds the pauses but does not read any additional entries after call is placed. For example, when using voice mail and adding a pause then password, all goes through fine but when you need to manually type another number to delete a message the keys do not work. As well when sending tones through it plays a horrendous long tone sound. Any help to solve this problem would be appreciated.

  • Tah

    None of these options work for my phone (MyTouch4g). I tried all of them. Either it didn't pick it up or it dialed all the symbols and came back the number could not be completed as dialed.

    • jack

      Thx for a great article
      Still batting 1000 with learning curve on onetouch sonic and long phone sequences

  • http://twitter.com/BobbShen Bobby

    Maybe this has been said already, but on my Android (Galaxy S) I am able to add these pauses and waits in the dialer. It is just in the menu button.

  • IncCo

    Pretty awesome article. It is also worth mentioning that you can add several commas (,,,) if you want a longer soft pause, each one is 2 seconds.

  • Mary

    Thanks so much for the help!

  • No One in Particular

    Comma and semicolon (not p or w) work great on LG Motion.

  • ogfd

    This worked on my old phone (Thunderbolt). The dialing/pause works on new phone (S3), but, after getting into voicemail and listening to the first message, the keyboard in non responsive, and so I cannot delete or save the voicemail I'm listening to, nor can I advance to the second voicemail. Any suggestions appreciated.

    • Don b

      Having same prob. Going to T Mobile for fix, they said others are experiencing too. If I learn more will let u know.

  • Ryancleyndert

    I have a problem... The problem is when I use these useful shortcuts, doesnt matter which one, my phone slowly dials the number. Almost like holding down the numbers. I use this feature for phone cards. so I dial a number which then is supposed to pause and dial another number. I calling from Canada to the UK.

    Phone: Galaxy Nexus
    Version: 4.1.1

  • Kevin Still

    On the Galaxy S4 it seems like you need to type the number out first then save it.. You can't do it via the PHONE BOOK.

  • Peter

    Hi, Is there a simular code for for hanging up/ending the call?

  • JAS

    With my Note3...While entering a phone number in contacts there is a symbol button that has wait and pause. On the keypad there is a letter P next to the asterisk. To use the wait symbol simply start to dial the phone number then press menu and the wait symbol will be shown, as well as the pause.

  • http://blaztek.postach.io/ Andy Strain

    I realize that this is an old post but I'm running Android 5.0.1 and noticed that the Contacts app has Wait (;) and Pause (,) buttons now! Thanks for the article, though, because I was wondering how they worked exactly!