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 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.
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.
- Open the “Messages” App
- Tap the three dots in the upper right to open the menu, then select
- Tap the
- Tap the
Incoming messagesmenu option
- 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
Advancedlabel to expand the advanced sub menu
- In advanced sub menu, look for the
Soundoption. If it is set to
None, then this is definitely your issue!
- Tap the
Soundoption 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!
- 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:
- Long press the “Messages” app icon in your app drawer or home screen, and tap the
App Infooption or icon
- Tap the
- 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:
- 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
- User gets a brand new Android phone and / or upgrades to Android 10+
- 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.
- Rather than default to a specific notification sound, the system defaults to
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.
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”
Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> Notifications -> Advanced -> Default notification sound
- Make sure “Do Not Disturb” mode (aka DND) is OFF
- Search “do not disturb” OR “dnd”
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:
- 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?)
- 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 settingswithin the list, even if they are actually set to
Silentor something else, which does show up if you click through to change the setting
- All entries show as
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
- 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
- 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).
This video does an excellent job of covering an exhaustive list of reasons why incoming messages might not be triggering audio alerts: