How do I use an audio file as a message notification?

Using a custom audio file for your notification sound can be beneficial in several ways. As noted in this article, custom notification sounds help users identify and differentiate your app’s alerts from the default notification sounds on their device. Additionally, creating sounds that are associated with your brand makes your app more recognizable and memorable.

Setting a custom notification sound is easy to do on both Android and iOS devices. This guide will walk through the steps for preparing an audio file and setting it as the default notification sound or for alerts from specific apps. We’ll also cover advanced topics like custom vibration patterns and notification sounds for accessibility.

Preparing the Audio File

When selecting an audio file to use for a custom notification sound, there are a few key requirements to keep in mind:

  • Supported formats: Android supports common audio formats like MP3, AAC, WAV, and OGG for notification sounds. iPhone supports non-DRM MP3, WAV, and AAC files.
  • Length: Notification sounds should be short, usually less than 30 seconds.
  • Storage location: Save the notification sound files in the Notifications folder on Android or the Ringtones folder on iPhone.

Choosing an audio file that follows these requirements will allow it to properly play as the notification tone when received. Before setting a longer audio file like a song snippet as the notification sound, edit it down to under 30 seconds.

Setting a Custom Notification Sound on Android

Adding a custom notification sound on Android is easy. To get started, access your phone’s sound settings by going to Settings > Sound & vibration (according to

Once you open the Sound settings page, tap on “Default notification sound” followed by “My Sounds” to select a custom notification sound. Here, you’ll be able to select from previously added sounds as well as upload your own audio file.

If you plan to use an audio clip from your phone’s storage, make sure it is an MP3 or other support media file format. Then simply tap the “+” button in the My Sounds menu to access your phone’s file browser.

Select the audio file you wish to use for notifications. Once selected, it will now show up in your list of custom notification sounds, ready to be applied.

Setting a Custom Notification Sound on iPhone

Apple makes it easy to customize notification sounds on your iPhone or iPad. To access the sound settings, start by opening the Settings app and tapping on Sounds & Haptics.

Under the Sounds and Haptic Patterns section, tap on Ringtone or Text Tone. Here you can select from the built-in options or tap Add New Ringtone to use your own audio file (such as an MP3, AAC, or m4r).

“To select a custom notification sound from your files,” as directed in the Apple support article (, “tap the GarageBand option to open GarageBand. Here you can select the audio file you want to use and then export it as a ringtone. Tap Share > Ringtone. Then choose the sound from your saved ringtones in Settings.”

Setting a Custom Notification Sound on Android for Specific Apps

On Android devices running Android 8.0 or higher, you can set custom notification sounds for individual apps using notification channels. Here’s how:

  1. Open the app you want to customize notifications for and go to its notification settings.
  2. Look for the Channels section. Tap on the channel you want to change the sound for.
  3. Tap on the Sound option and select a custom sound file from your phone’s internal storage.
  4. Tap OK to save the custom notification sound for that channel.

This allows complete control in customizing notification sounds on a per-channel basis for each app. So you can set different sounds for different types of notifications from the same app.

Setting Custom Notification Sounds for Apps on iPhone

On iPhone, the process is different as there is no notification channels concept.

  1. Open the Settings app and tap on Notifications.
  2. Scroll down and select the app you want to customize.
  3. Tap on Sounds and select the custom sound file you want.

This will set the custom sound for all notifications from that app. Each app can only have one custom sound associated with it.

So while iPhone does not have the flexibility of Android’s notification channels, you can still set custom sounds for alerts from specific apps.

Testing the Custom Notification Sound

To ensure the custom notification sound has been properly set, it’s important to test it. Here are some tips on testing the sound and troubleshooting any potential issues:

To test the sound, send yourself a test notification. For iPhone, you can ask Siri to remind you of something or use the Screen Time feature to schedule a notification. For Android, you can use the notification log under Settings > Notifications to send yourself a test notification. You can also use a variety of apps that can schedule test notifications.

If you sent a test notification but still do not hear your custom sound, try the following steps to troubleshoot:

  • Make sure your device volume is turned up.
  • Check that your device is not set to silent/do not disturb. Custom notification sounds will not play if silent mode is enabled.
  • Try listening to the audio file in your device’s music player app. If the file plays there but not for notifications, it may be an incompatible file type.
  • If on Android, make sure you have properly set the audio file as your default notification sound through your device’s sound settings.
  • If the sound plays for some apps but not others, the custom sound may not be supported by that particular app.

If everything is properly set up and you still don’t hear the custom notification sound, try removing and re-adding the sound or rebooting your device. For persistent issues, contact the device manufacturer about possible device-specific limitations.

Custom Vibration Patterns

Knowing someone is contacting you by the vibration pattern is useful and saves time looking at the phone. Android and iPhones allow custom vibration patterns for notifications.

On Android, go to Settings > Sound & vibration > Vibration preferences (or tap Advanced) and select Vibration intensity and pattern. Tap Add and set the vibration length and pauses to create a pattern. Give it a name to easily identify it later. Then under App vibrations you can assign custom patterns to specific apps.

According to this Android Police article, some launchers like Nova Launcher also allow per-contact vibration patterns to tell who is contacting you without looking.

iPhones also support custom vibrations. Open the Settings app and go to Sounds & Haptics. Under Ringtones and Sounds you can create and manage custom vibration patterns to assign to contacts or notifications.

With custom vibration patterns, you can identify callers and notifications just by the vibration, no need to look at the phone.

Custom Notification Sounds for Accessibility

Custom notification sounds can provide important benefits for those with visual impairments. By assigning distinctive notification sounds to apps and contacts, users can recognize notifications without needing to visually check the screen.

When selecting a custom notification sound for accessibility purposes, you want to choose a unique sound that will stand out from other sounds and ambient noise. The sound should be easily identifiable and associated with a specific app or contact. Some tips for choosing a custom accessibility sound:

  • Pick sounds that are short, simple, and high pitched like chimes, rings, and pings as these are easiest for most people to hear
  • Avoid long or complex sound files as they may be difficult to recognize
  • Use naturally distinctive sounds like animal noises rather than instrument sounds that can blend together
  • Try to use a different sound for each frequently used app and your most important contacts so you can tell them apart without looking

Testing your custom sound notification with different types of ambient noise is important. It should be loud and unique enough to stand out so the user knows there is an alert.

Custom accessibility sounds help those with visual impairment independently recognize essential notifications without help from others. With thoughtful sound choices, they can confidently navigate daily life.

Creative Uses for Custom Sounds

Custom notification sounds don’t have to be boring or generic. With a little creativity, you can set fun and entertaining audio clips as your custom sounds. Here are some ideas for creative uses:

Funny Sounds

Make your friends laugh by setting funny sound clips as your custom notification tones. Try using sound bites from comedy shows, YouTube videos, or audio memes. For example, the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” or “What Are Those?!” clips are funny options. Just make sure any custom sounds are short enough to work for notifications.

Movie/TV/Game Clips

Use iconic one-liners, sound effects, or theme songs from your favorite movies, TV shows, or video games for a dose of nostalgia every time you get a notification. For example, you could use the Pac Man waka-waka sound, Mario coin sound, light saber sound effects, or the “You’ve Got Mail” clip from AOL.

Personalized Recordings

Create customized sounds using your own voice to record phrases like “You have a new message” or silly sayings. This adds a unique personal touch. You can also record sounds from special events, family members saying hello, or even your pet’s funny noises.

Get creative and have fun making wacky, emotional, or entertaining custom notification tones. Just be mindful of volume, length, and appropriateness if using sounds in professional or public settings.


Setting a custom notification sound on your Android or iPhone is a straightforward process that allows you to personalize your device alerts. By selecting an audio file that is meaningful to you, you can ensure you never miss an important notification. The process involves just a few simple steps like choosing the desired sound file, allowing access to media if needed, and selecting it as the default tone in your sound settings.

In the future, we may see even more customization options for notification sounds. Phone manufacturers could potentially allow mixing and editing of notification audio files, using song clips, or setting unique sounds for individual contacts. As phone software continues to advance, custom notifications could become more intricate with options like custom vibration patterns, notification LED colors, and repeating alerts for urgent contacts. For now, the ability to set a custom sound for all notifications provides a simple but effective way to personalize your mobile experience.

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