How to Fix Android Messages Having No Notification Sound

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    Date Posted:
    Aug. 25, 2020
    Last Updated:
    Aug. 25, 2020
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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.

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.

11 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.

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