How to take control of your Android notifications

It’s time to reign in how often your phone pesters you.

Nothing exemplifies the double-edged sword of life with a smartphone like notifications. Staying connected with push notifications is essential, but if you're like me, you probably get pinged way too often. All of those games, apps, and system notices add up.

Android gives you a ton of controls to tweak notifications just to your liking. However, you have to put in a little bit of work in order to get the experience just the way you want. If you just want to give yourself a little breathing room, it’s worth it to put in the time to get things just right.

Silence! Or mostly quiet, anyway

Android offers a dedicated do not disturb mode if you just want to be completely left alone, such as when you put your phone on the nightstand for the night. By default, it silences all notifications, with the exception of your alarm, calls and texts from the favorites in your contacts list, and anyone who tries to call you more than once within a 15-minute time period. The idea behind this is that you don’t want to miss an emergency from a family member or someone else that really needs to reach you in the middle of the night.

do not disturb

Android gives you plenty of options to make sure you’re not disturbed by those pesky applications.

You’re not stuck with these parameters, however. You can change up the call settings to allow anyone in, or just those in your address book. You can also crack this door open slightly to allow event/task alerts or reminders. This way if you put your phone on do not disturb mode to avoid calls while getting some work done, you’ll still get that Google alert you gave to yourself earlier in the morning through a voice command. You may want to play with these settings to get it the way you want, or change it up from time to time based upon your needs.

If you want to keep it simple, go with No exceptions or Alarms only since those are straightforward, predetermined options. Or you can go into the Custom mode and tweak things to the way you like.

Priority app notifications

Dig a step further, and you’ll find a setting for Priority app notifications. This lets you whitelist certain apps to be allowed through the do not disturb gate and still ping your phone. Specifically, it’s found at Do not disturb > allow exceptions > priority app notifications.

android app notifications

You can tweak many of the specifics from each application.

This is helpful if you use a third-party app for messaging or one of the many apps that let you use a second number on your phone. Turning this on also bumps this app up to the top of the list when you have multiple notifications on your lock screen. Or maybe you really want to find out when it’s time to open another gold chest in that freemium game.

Taming apps that go rogue

Freemium games (I’m looking at you, Clash Royale) like to conveniently leave out notification options from their in-apps settings, so they can continue to pester you a rally to battle or the allure of more gold coins. Fortunately you can put this nonsense to rest.

Go to settings > applications > applications manager and you’ll find a lost of all your installed applications.

Usually you don’t think about this until that irritating notification pops up to pester you again. But this is the right time to take action. Press and hold on the notification, and then touch the wrench icon. This will take you to a specific settings page where you can disable notifications, hide it on the lock screen, or even set it as a priority.

Another method is to tap and hold on an app from the app drawer, and then drag it to the top of the screen where it says App info.

From here, you can disable notifications for this app, as well as perform other customizations. You can also uninstall the app, or disable it if it’s one of the lovely pieces of bloatware installed by your carrier or device maker.

application info

You can shut down an annoying app by using the Application info screen.

Finally, don’t forget if an app becomes too troublesome or you just don’t need it anymore, delete it. It can’t hurt to free up space and back off on the RAM usage that comes from running an application you don’t need. Such maintenance may feel like a pain sometimes, but the fact that Android offers it allows you to bend so many instances of how your phone works to your will. Remember that next time you see that FREE 1,000 COINS! PLAY NOW! notice when it hits your screen.

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