Master notifications in Android Lollipop with Notification Priority and Downtime

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Android 5.0 Lollipop comes with a cadre of features that let you take better control of the notifications you see on your phone—and set times for when you don’t want to be inundated with notifications at all. We’ll show you how to take advantage of these features, so you never again get woken up at 1am just because someone mentioned you on Twitter.

To start, head on over to your phone’s Settings app, then tap Sound & notification—a one-stop shop of sorts for all things related to notifications and alert sounds.

Priority interruptions

Lollipop introduces the concept of “priority notifications”: These notifications rise to the top of the notifications screen, and you’ll continue to receive auditory or vibrate alerts for these notifications even when you have all other notifications muted.

If you’d like to be alerted only to these sorts of notifications, tap Interruptions. From this screen, you can choose to limit the sorts of notifications you’ll be alerted to, and whether you want to set some quiet hours.

First, set your priority preferences by tapping “When calls and notifications arrive.” A menu pops open with three options:

  • Always interrupt allows all notifications through—everything from calls to texts to app updates
  • Allow only priority interruptions will only alert you of certain kinds of notifications—calls, messages, events, and reminders. You can pick and choose which of these you want to be alerted to.
  • Don’t interrupt turns off all alerts for all notifications.

For the sake of this example, we want to limit alerts to only priority interruptions, so choose “Allow only priority interruptions” from the menu. Once you do that, it’s time to choose which kinds of notifications you want to give priority to. Toggle the Events and reminders, Calls, and Messages sliders accordingly, based on your preferences. For this example, I’m switching all three to the “on” position so all three kinds of notifications receive priority.

interruptions settings

Priority interruptions lets you continue to receive audio alerts for certain kinds of notifications while silencing others.

If you decide to allow calls and messages through as priority interruptions, tap Calls/Messages from, and choose whether you want to receive notifications for calls from anyone, from starred contacts only, or from all your contacts but nobody else (“Contacts only”).


If you want to allow all notification alerts through most of the time, but want to limit alerts during certain hours (like when you’re sleeping or at the office), Downtime is for you. During Downtime hours, you’ll only be alerted to priority interruptions; your phone will receive all other notifications silently. They'll be there, waiting for you when you wake up, but your phone will not light up the screen, make a noise, or vibrate.


Lollipop lets you set Downtime for specifc days of the week.

If you want to use Downtime, you first need to choose the days of the week and times you want to set as notification quiet hours. Start by tapping Days: Select the days of the week you want to have Downtime do its thing, then tap Done. Next, tap Start time and select what time you’d like to start Downtime. Tap OK, then tap End time and repeat the process.

App notifications

Lollipop also lets you choose to block apps from sending notifications entirely, or to mark notifications from certain apps as priority notifications. 

app notifications

You can designate notifications from specific apps as priority notifications—or block them entirely.

First, head back to the Sound & notification settings screen. Next, scroll to the bottom and tap App notifications, then tap on the app for which you want to adjust notification settings. Toggle the Block slider to the “on” position to stop receiving notifications from that app. Toggle the Priority slider to “on” if you want notifications from that app to be considered Priority notifications.

You can also get to this screen any time an app's notification appears by pressing and holding on the notification until you see the little info button (it looks like a lowercase "i" in a circle) appear. Tap on that, and you'll go straight to the notification settings for that app.

Once you’re done, exit the Settings app and enjoy your newfound mastery of Lollipop’s notification system.

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