How do I change the notification sound for a specific contact?

Custom notification sounds allow users to set distinct ringtones and sounds for different contacts. This can be useful for quickly identifying callers without having to look at your phone. Unique sounds for specific people also help maintain separation between personal and professional relationships.

Assigning custom notification tones is especially beneficial for avoiding unwanted spam calls or unimportant notifications. You can set a specific sound for priority contacts so you never miss an urgent call or message from them. Custom sounds also let you express your personality by choosing fun ringtones that represent certain friends or family members.

Overall, customizing notification sounds gives users more control, convenience, and personalization for how their device alerts them about incoming communications. With just a few quick settings adjustments, you can enable specialized sounds to improve your notification experience.

Identify the Contact

The first step is to open the Contacts app. There are a few ways to access Contacts on your device:

  • On Android phones, tap the Contacts icon on your home screen or app drawer (1).
  • On iPhones, open the Contacts app from the home screen (2).
  • You can also navigate to Contacts from the Phone app on many devices.

Once in the Contacts app, scroll or search to find the specific contact you want to customize the notification sound for. Tap on the contact to open their details.

Access Notification Settings

To customize the notification sound for a specific contact, you need to access the notification settings for that contact. Here’s how to do that:

1. Open your phone’s Contacts app.
2. Tap on the contact you want to customize notifications for.
3. Tap on the “Edit” button at the top right of the screen.
4. Scroll down to the “Ringtone” section. Tap on it to open the list of available ringtones and notification sounds.
5. Select the ringtone or notification sound you want to assign to that contact.
6. Optionally, you can set a custom vibration pattern for that contact’s notifications. Tap on “Vibration pattern” and select a preset pattern or create a custom one.

Now the chosen sound and/or vibration will be used for notifications from that specific contact only, while the default/global sound will continue being used for other notifications. This allows you to easily identify notifications from important contacts without having to check your phone.


Select Ringtone

To select a custom ringtone for a specific contact on your iPhone:

Open the Contacts app and tap on the contact you want to customize. Tap Edit in the upper-right corner. Scroll down and tap on Ringtone. This will open up the list of ringtones on your iPhone.

Browse through the available ringtones and select the desired sound you want that contact to have. Some popular ringtones include the iPhone Marimba, Crazy Frog, or custom sounds you’ve added.

Tap on the ringtone to preview it. Once you’ve selected the ringtone you want, tap Done in the upper-right corner. This will set the custom ringtone for that individual contact.

Set Vibration Pattern

You can customize the vibration pattern that accompanies the ringtone when receiving a notification from a specific contact. This allows you to identify the contact without having to check your phone.

To choose a vibration pattern on iPhone, go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics and choose from the default vibration patterns under System Haptics [1]. Android also provides built-in options under Settings > Sound. For more customization install third party apps like BuzzKill on Android [2].

Pairing a custom vibration pattern with your chosen ringtone creates a unique notification alert for each important contact. Just be careful not to create confusion with too many similar patterns.

Set Notification Tone for Other Apps

The process for changing the notification tone for a specific contact can be repeated in other apps like Email, Messages, etc. For example, in the Gmail app you can go to Settings > Notifications > Advanced settings. From there, select the contact and customize the notification tone and vibration pattern specifically for that contact.

The key steps would be:

  1. Open the app’s notification settings
  2. Go to the advanced settings for notifications
  3. Select the contact
  4. Choose a custom ringtone and vibration pattern

This allows you to set a unique notification alert for important contacts across multiple apps on your Android device. The ability to customize notifications based on contact differs between apps, but many messaging, email, and social media apps have advanced notification settings.

Customize Based on Group

You can assign unique notification tones and vibration patterns for different groups of contacts on your iPhone. To do this:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Notifications.
  2. Tap on a messaging app such as Messages.
  3. Find Groups near the bottom and tap it.
  4. Enable custom tones and vibration patterns for specific groups. For example, enable it for “Family” and select a special tone.

This way your iPhone will play a unique sound when someone in your Family group messages you. You can follow similar steps to set custom tones for other groups like Friends, Work, etc. This lets you identify who is messaging without needing to look at the screen.

Note that this feature is limited to apps that support contact groups for notifications like Messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger etc. Email apps and some others don’t offer this level of customization.

For more details, check this article.


If you are unable to set a custom notification sound for a contact after following the steps above, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Check app permissions – Go to your phone’s Settings > Apps and make sure the app you are trying to set a custom notification for has notification permissions enabled. If needed, toggle permissions off and then back on.
  • Restart your phone – Sometimes issues can be fixed by simply restarting your phone. Shut down your phone completely and then turn it back on.
  • Update apps – Go to your phone’s app store, as both apps (the native Contact or Messaging app as well as the third party app) need to be updated to the latest version. Updating apps may fix bugs that cause issues with notification sounds.
  • If these basic troubleshooting steps do not resolve your issue with setting a custom notification sound for a specific contact, there may be a deeper issue. Please contact your phone’s support forums or customer service for additional help.

Automate Unique Tones with IFTTT or Tasker

You can use automation apps like IFTTT or Tasker to set up customized notification tones and vibration patterns based on specific triggers. For example, with IFTTT you can create “Applets” such as:

  • Receive a special tone when your partner texts you
  • Get a notification sound for important work emails
  • Set custom ringtones for calls from family members

The Optimize Your Notifications guide from IFTTT provides additional examples for customizing alerts. Tasker offers even deeper personalization based on contexts like time of day, your location, battery level and more.

Automating custom notification tones takes some initial setup but in the long run saves you hassle. You won’t need to manually change sounds each time. With creative use of tools like IFTTT and Tasker, you can stay on top of the alerts that matter most to you.

Here are the key points covered in this guide on setting custom notification tones for contacts:


Custom notification tones for contacts can make it easier to identify who is contacting you without having to look at your phone. According to the New York Times, most modern smartphones allow users to assign unique alert noises to each contact.

Setting a custom ringtone or vibration pattern for specific contacts enables you to recognize incoming notifications even when your phone is in your pocket or bag. You don’t have to pull out your phone every time.

Custom tones can also help prioritize certain contacts. For example, you may want to set a more urgent sound for close family and friends versus work contacts.

Overall, custom notification tones give you more control and personalization over how your phone communicates with you. This guide covered key steps like selecting a contact, changing notification settings, choosing ringtones and vibrations, customizing based on groups, and troubleshooting issues.

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