Take These Steps to Customise Your Android Notifications

Take These Steps to Customise Your Android Notifications

Left unchecked, our smartphones can become constant distractions, buzzing and bleeping all throughout the day—so much so that it can be difficult to do anything else in between reading and replying to messages, and scrolling through feeds. Are you in an unmanageable number of group chats? Yeah, me too.

There is hope: Spending a few minutes going through the notification settings on your Android phone can make a significant difference in terms of which apps can ping you and on what terms. Over the years, notification management on Android has slowly improved, up to the point where you now get a very decent level of granular control.

Android being Android, there are variations between different phones, so you may have to adapt the instructions below slightly. They’ve been written to apply to Google Pixel phones running Android 14 or later, and Samsung Galaxy phones running Android 14 and OneUI 6.1 or later.

App notifications

From Settings, head to Notifications, then App notifications, then tap on an app: You’ll see a toggle switch that lets you turn all notifications on or off for the app, so you can quickly silence apps you don’t want to hear from—you’ll need to actually open up the app to see what’s new.

If you’re on a Pixel phone, you’ll see a list of notification channels (or types): For the Clock app, for example, they include alarms, timers, and stopwatch alerts. Tap on any channel to turn the particular notification on or off, or to switch it between the Default (using your phone’s current alert setting) or Silent (the notification will show on screen, but won’t trigger a noise or vibration, irrespective of your phone’s setting).

You can set which types of notifications each app can show.
Credit: Lifehacker

On Galaxy phones, you need to do a bit of extra work to see these channels. From the main Notifications screen, pick Advanced settings, then enable Manage notification categories for each app. This then gives you access to the individual channels, under Notification categories, when you select a particular app.

Each individual app page lets you control whether its notifications trigger pop-ups on screen, and dots or badges on the app icon (in the app drawer and on the home screens). Sounds and vibrations can be handled separately too, and you’ll also see lock screen options: App notifications can appear in full on the lock screen, or appear without a preview (just in case someone else is looking at your phone), or not appear at all.

Notification sounds can be customized for each app.
Credit: Lifehacker

Head back to the main Notifications screen to find more options, though they vary slightly between Pixel phones and Galaxy phones. You can set certain conversations in your messaging apps as higher priority, so they appear at the top of chat and notification lists, and control whether or not notifications can appear as floating bubbles on top of other apps. You’re also able to enable or disable notification snoozing, and see your notification history (handy if you missed an alert).

To set the default sound and vibration setting for notifications, head to Sound and vibration (Pixel) or Sounds and vibration (Galaxy) from Settings. Note that apps can have their own individual notification sound if needed, which you can set by going back to the notification channels we looked at before, but vibration patterns can’t be configured on an app-by-app basis.

Set up Do Not Disturb

You don’t necessarily want the same notification settings to apply all day and all night, which is where Do Not Disturb comes in. You can get to it from Notifications in Settings, and you’ll see you can either turn the mode on and off manually, or have it automatically enabled or disabled based on a schedule. Unless you make any changes, Do Not Disturb hides and mutes all incoming notifications.

Multiple schedules can be set up, so you might, for example, have one that applies overnight, and one that applies in the mornings on weekdays. Each schedule can either have its own individual settings in terms of the notifications you do and don’t see, or it can follow the default Do Not Disturb configuration.

Use Do Not Disturb to change notification settings based on a time of day.
Credit: Lifehacker

To set that configuration, you’ve got three main options. The first is People (Pixel) or Calls and messages (Galaxy): Here you can specify contacts whose calls and texts will override Do Not Disturb. Then there’s Apps (Pixel) or App notifications (Galaxy), where you can choose specific apps that Do Not Disturb doesn’t apply to.

The third option is Alarms and other interruptions (Pixel) or Alarms and sounds (Galaxy). Here you’re able to control whether or not alarms, games, and media apps (such as your favorite podcast player) can interrupt you when Do Not Disturb is enabled. Once you’ve set up these three options for Do Not Disturb, and for each of your schedules, your notifications should be quite comprehensively tailored to your needs.

You’re able to set up multiple schedules, if required.
Credit: Lifehacker

Tap Display options for hidden notifications (Pixel) or Hide notifications (Galaxy) and you can choose how alerts are hidden when Do Not Disturb is active—you can choose to hide them completely so you’re none the wiser, for example, or have them show up on screen but not make a sound or trigger a vibration.

The final option to bear in mind here is your phone’s silent mode options. On a Pixel, tap the volume up or down button, then the icon above the slider; on a Galaxy, swipe down from the top of the screen, then tap the top left icon in Quick Settings. There are three options—sounds and vibrations enabled, vibrations only, or sounds and vibrations both muted—and they’ll apply across all of your apps and notifications.

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