How to Fix Android Messages Having No Notification Sound

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    Date Posted:
    Aug. 25, 2020
    Last Updated:
    Aug. 22, 2021
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This guide is specifically for Google’s “Messages” app (com.google.android.apps.messaging) – this is the default / stock messages app that comes with many new Android phones, including the newest Pixel 4A model. However, some of the advice about generic notifications settings is applicable to all apps and Android in general. Especially for apps that have their own notification controls.

The Issue

The problem is pretty straightforward.

After getting a brand new phone (Pixel 4a, with Android 10), incoming text messages / SMS no longer triggered an audible notification sound. Even after tweaking global notifications settings and setting ringer volume to maximum, no text messages could trigger an audio alert. There would be a visual notification shown, but no sound.

Searching across the internet, it is clear this is not an isolated incident. At first, I was going to blame myself, but when the same exact thing happened to some one else I knew, I realized there is a clear issue at hand.

The Fix

After tweaking every setting I could find related to notifications, I finally found the solution in a menu buried several layers deep. Turns out that Messages has its own notifications settings that override global settings, and for some reason, the notification sound was set to none! Setting it to any other sound option fixed it.

There are a few ways to get to this buried setting.

  1. Open the “Messages” App
  2. Tap the three dots in the upper right to open the menu, then select Settings
  3. Tap the Notifications menu option
  4. Tap the Incoming messages menu option
  5. Make sure the setting on this page is set to “Alerting” and not “Silent”. Now look towards the bottom of the screen and tap the Advanced label to expand the advanced sub menu
  6. In advanced sub menu, look for the Sound option. If it is set to None, then this is definitely your issue!
  7. Tap the Sound option and select one of your ringtones / notification; this will be the sound that plays when you get a new message. Make sure to hit save!
  8. You are done! Try to test it by having someone send you a text message. Or use a site like this one to test it.

Alternatively, you can get to the setting by starting a slightly different way:

  1. Long press the “Messages” app icon in your app drawer or home screen, and tap the App Info option or icon
  2. Tap the Notifications option
  3. You can now start on step 4 of the above section.

If you want to see these steps in action, below is a screen recording I made:

You can also find the video above here.

If this fix did not solve your issue, feel free to explore the “Further troubleshooting” section below.

The Culprit / Theories

Since I observed this issue happening to two different users who were both switching to new phones (with Android 10), my guess is that it has to do with Google’s protocol for device migration and setting sync (related: backup overview). My theory is something like this:

  1. User is on an older version of Android. They have their messaging app notifications set to either default notification sound, a system specific sound, or a custom sound
  2. User gets a brand new Android phone and / or upgrades to Android 10+
  3. The Android setup process tries to transfer the old setting, but the previous setting is not an option on the new phone. This could be because the ringtone file did not get transferred over, the previous user used a system level notification sound which was deprecated in Android 10, or some other reason.
  4. Rather than default to a specific notification sound, the system defaults to null / None.

If I could talk to a Google engineer, I would point out that this feels like a UX process that could be improved. I would argue that the majority of users probably want some sound set as the default, even if they can’t keep their old setting.

Further troubleshooting

If the above fix did not solve your issue, here are some further things you can try (in combination with making sure the above has been tried):

  • Make sure there is a default notification sound set:
    • Search: “default notification sound”
    • Path: Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> Notifications -> Advanced -> Default notification sound
  • Make sure “Do Not Disturb” mode (aka DND) is OFF
    • Search “do not disturb” OR “dnd”
    • Path: Settings -> Sound -> Do Not Disturb
    • You can also toggle DND through the Android pull down shade, and depending on your settings, you might also have DND configured to turn on automatically based on schedule and/or other triggers
    • If it is ON, you should see a persistent icon in the status bar that looks something like this:
      • Android's 'Do Not Disturb' (aka DND) Mode Icon in Status Bar
  • Make sure your Ring volume is not set to zero / vibrate only
    • It used to be that “ringtone” volume was separate from “notifications” volume, but starting with Android 10 (?), these have been combined into one setting: “Ring volume”. If it is set to zero or vibrate only, then no notifications will emit sound (unless there is an app-specific override?)
      • If it is set to vibrate only, you should see this icon in your status bar:
        • Android vibrate only ringtone mode icon in status bar
      • If it is set to zero and vibrate is off, you should see this icon in your status bar:
        • Android's icon for completely silent ringer, with vibration off, in status bar
    • Warning: Using the physical rocker buttons on your phone to adjust volume no longer adjusts the ring volume (starting with Android Pie?) – it adjusts the Media volume. I agree with those dissenting that this is a silly change for Android to make.
  • Make sure that you don’t have individual per-contact / conversation notifications set to silent
    • See below section

Per Contact Messages Notification Settings

Android actually lets you set the messaging notifications setting as granular as per-contact / conversation. So, for example, contact “Joshua” that texts you too many jokes that don’t need immediate attention can be set to “silent”, whereas “Boss” is set to “priority”, since you never want to miss a text from them.

Unfortunately, this is also a way that your notifications settings can get screwed up. There are a few ways to check for this, and remedy it.

If you want to check to see if any contacts have a customized messaging notification setting, navigate to Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> Conversations:

  • This screen shows you any text conversations / contacts that have a special non-default notification setting applied (or if you even opened up that panel in the past)
  • There seems to be a glitch with this settings page, at least on my device:
    • All entries show as Default settings within the list, even if they are actually set to Silent or something else, which does show up if you click through to change the setting

To fix this, and restore contacts to the default setting, you can:

  • Use the above route ( Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> Conversations) and change each entry in the list to Default
  • Within individual messaging conversations within the Messages app, you can access the notification setting for that conversation by clicking the three dots in the upper right, then Details, and finally Notifications
  • Bulk: In my research, the only bulk approach that I came across was by clearing the data for the messaging app. According to multiple comments, this will reset all the per-conversation notification settings, but not delete any messages.
    • I am slightly reluctant to recommend this, as it is something I have never tried. If you were to try this, I would strongly recommend backing up all your messages first (like in this guide).

Video Overview

This video does an excellent job of covering an exhaustive list of reasons why incoming messages might not be triggering audio alerts:

It is also uploaded here, and here.

33 thoughts on “How to Fix Android Messages Having No Notification Sound”

  1. Linda N Todd says:

    Thank you! This has been driving me crazy! You fixed my problem.

  2. Lynn Force says:

    Thank You so much for posting this. The issue of message notifications not making any sound was driving me nuts. I set and reset the settings, made sure sound was turned on, made sure notifications were on…I had no idea of what else to do. I followed your instructions and everything works fine now. Yay!! Again, thanks for the detailed info.

    1. joshuatz says:

      Glad it helped you!

  3. luma says:

    OMG, thank you! I’ve been searching for an answer to this problem and none of the others I found worked on my phone. But this one did. Yay!

  4. Vlad says:

    Fix my problem. Thanks a lot for sharing the secret.

  5. Ron Schloss says:

    I don’t have an “incoming messages” setting on my new Samsung S8 with Android 9.

    1. joshuatz says:

      This post was specifically for Android 10 (I should probably have made this more clear), and I don’t have a way to troubleshoot version 9, since I don’t own a device with that version. But I found this guide, which might help you – https://support.google.com/messages/thread/11851501?hl=en.

  6. anonymous coward says:

    This worked great for me, thanks! It’s amazing how sometimes we need to be reminded of the simple fixes.

  7. Iris Simmons says:

    Thank you!! I have a Pixel 4a and I don’t recall when it stopped, but missing notifications for two apps in particular made me nuts. I hope they can find a way to streamline this sooner than later.

  8. Tp says:

    Thanks! Finally (!) Gotta it fixed thanks to you. I was honestly about to get rid of my damn pixel 4…

  9. Larry says:

    You saved the day…..could not find the answer until now. Thank you.

  10. J says:

    Mine still isn’t working right., but thanks anyway for this! I’ve Googled and looked at different settings and nothing has worked. I only recently bought my Pixel 4a and the text notifcation sound has never worked at all.

  11. Lodie says:

    Thank you – the solution to my problem

  12. Lorri says:

    I have an S10e and I do not have an incoming messages

  13. Laurent says:

    Thank you very much, this was driving me nuts !

  14. Chris Read says:

    Thanks. Super helpful. Too bad the Android developers can’t get their act together enough to understand good UX.

  15. Leonard B. Gow says:

    Ok until “Save”. Where is it? A532

    1. joshuatz says:

      Hi Leonard,

      It should be in the upper right corner of the screen, while selecting the new sound option. The video embedded below the steps includes this step; let me know if the video or instructions don’t match what you are seeing.

  16. Ritergeek says:

    My tone has come and gone on both a OnePlus 5T and a Pixel 4, Android 9-11. One thing that often works for me for both phone ringer and messages is to reboot the phone. Today that did not work, and neither did digging in all those settings. But somehow as I just dug one more time, without changing a thing, it kicked back in. Who the whatever knows?

  17. Philip says:

    Thank you very much indeed. This fixed the problem on my Pixel 3A (Android 11). Now I just need to discover how I lost the sounds in the first place!

  18. Robert says:

    Rats, I’ve been struggling with this for weeks, but followed this to the letter, and I’m still not even receiving pop up SMS notifications, let alone sound. Been missing a lot of texts lately. Android 11 on Pixel 3a.

  19. E G says:

    Genius! I got fooled by the Incoming Messages field having a checkbox (with a check in it), and didn’t realize that you can click on the field for more settings! Thank you very much!!

  20. Phil says:

    Perfect! Why oh why did they do this…

  21. John says:

    I’ve been battling this on my wife’s Motorola phone. Thanks very much for you help.

    Your advice got me on the right track. However, following your advice to the letter did not work for me so I added some tricks of my own …

    If a setting looks ok already, change it and then change it back. Then, when finished, reboot. It seems to have done the trick.

  22. Dallas Bergmann says:

    YES!! Thank you! I tried everything else, but your advice actually worked. THANK YOU!!!!!!

  23. Nazar Davis says:

    wish i found this when i did a search – about 3 weeks and just about ready to buy a new phone.
    further problem i had (motoe6s) all current messages were set to silent, global fixed the new messages but not the old ones, had to delete all the messages or change every message to sound.
    the only thing i can think of was an update caused my ringtone to change and notification sound to become silent – i will not be buying another motorola.

  24. Garry says:

    Wife was getting frustrated with her new Pixel 4a missing the message notification sound which she had in her previous phone (Moto 5G Plus) so this is a great help for her! Thanks so much!!!!

  25. RichT says:

    On my Moto E the problem was that my Bluetooth was on. I turned that off and waah la I can hear my incoming texts again. The phone thinks you are using a headset when on Bluetooth. Go figure!

  26. Ian says:

    Thank you! Somehow notifications got turned off and it wasn’t even showing the blue LED it used to after a text message arrived. I just couldn’t find the right place to check the setting.

  27. Cindy says:

    Thanks for your post. After getting my notification sounds to work again, I also was able to restore all my choices of sounds and alarms by using another user’s suggestion to “wipe the cache partition”. That may help someone else, so I thought I’d share it here.

  28. Julie says:

    Finally, hallelujah! Thank you! Nearly a year with no sound notifications. Would have never configured it properly without your help. Much thanks!

  29. Sue says:

    I did everything else first. Before doing the data and cache clearing. Honestly my next move was a full factory reset. I am pretty sure FB messenger was my culprit. I think it some jow corrupted the phones inate messaging app. I only had FB messenger installed for a day. I only use FB on my computer and it sucks enough time there 😂. Anyway thanks for posting all these options you saved me a few days of annoyance a full factory reset would have caused.

  30. JoJesty says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU… stupid Android idiots, deep in the menus, impossible to find. But they won’t read thjis…oh well!

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