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How To Set Priority Conversations In Android & What That Does

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Android has contained some way to set priority for conversations for quite some time but that’s never been the most intuitive feature to find. And, moreover, not every user is likely to know what the feature even is. Let alone how it works. So, if you’re looking for a how-to for setting the priority of your conversations and corresponding notifications on Android, you’ve come to the right place.

Why would you want to set priority for conversations? What does that do?

Now, the first thing to know about setting priority conversations in Android, aside from how to do it, is exactly what the feature is. And that’s a fairly straightforward question to answer.

Conversations and associated notifications from apps in Android come with three basic settings. Those are Silent, Default, and Priority. As the branding suggests, Priority Conversations are those that have had their notifications set to ‘Priority’. Specifically for a given conversation within a communication app. But what exactly does each of those settings mean?

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Silent is, it almost goes without saying, the lowest priority setting. And, true to its branding, it silences any sound or vibration associated with the conversation or app too. Default, conversely, prioritizes the appearance of messages in the notification shade in the order they’ve arrived in. And, of course, utilizes the default settings for sounds and vibration. That means that it follows Do Not Disturb and any other settings that have been configured.

Priority, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily follow all of those rules. Priority conversations always appear in their own segment, above other notifications. And they do, by default, push through past Do Not Disturb mode. That means that any conversations you have that may be more important can be seen, heard, and interacted with. Not only more easily, since they always appear on top. But also through modes that would normally potentially cause them to be missed.

Here’s how to do this for your conversations

When it comes to setting priority, there are effectively two ways to accomplish that. Whether at the app or conversation level. We’ll be discussing how the task can be accomplished with the update to Android 12, specifically, and the new menus the update brings. But at least a couple of the methods can be accomplished outside of the Settings app. And the adjustment in Settings is fairly comparable too.

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So this guide should still be able to help you find that, even if you don’t have the latest Android version yet.

Set priority for your conversations in Settings

The first place you can look for how to set your priority for conversations is in the Settings app. With the latest Android and the appearance of a “Conversations” option, you can actually set priority on an individual level. So that any individual conversation from across a multitude of apps can be adjusted. Whether that’s for Google’s default messaging app, Slack, Telegram, or any other communication app you might be using.

  1. Navigate to the Settings application
  2. Scroll down to and select “Notifications” — or skip to the second part of the next step if the option doesn’t appear in your OEM version of Android
  3. Select the “Conversations” option from under the “Conversation” sub-header. Conversely, on the home page of the settings app, you can use the search to look for “Conversations” and select the option from there
  4. The resulting sub-menu in Android showcases Recent conversations and, at the top of the page, a segment for any conversations you’ve recently made changes to. The conversations stem from across all communications-focused apps you have installed. With the exception of Gmail. Although Gmail, as an app, can be set to priority by default, that’s not typically recommended since most users receive a ton of non-priority emails alongside those that are a priority. It would simply cause unreasonable interruptions and potentially become very annoying or disruptive.
  5. Tap on the conversation you’d like to set priority for
  6. Select “Priority” on the resulting page. Google will encircle the icon for the app the conversation exists in to denote that it’s been set as Priority. It will also be moved to a new “Priority” segment in the Conversations sub-menu
  7. As an added bonus, if there are any conversations in the menu that aren’t actually conversations, the above-noted sub-menu also displays an option to inform the system that it isn’t a conversation. That will remove the ‘conversation’ from the menu
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Make a change from your notification shade

Another way Google provides for how to adjust the Priority setting for any conversations is directly in the notification shade. And, in fact, in Android 12 at least, there are two ways it provides that option. The first is a single-step process, shown in the images below. Namely, Google recommends a conversation be added directly in the notification UI. A single tap on the corresponding button sets the conversation as a priority.

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Otherwise, the process is fairly straightforward and, of course, can be accomplished on some older versions of Android as well.

  1. Swipe down once from the top of your display on any screen to bring down the Notification Shade
  2. Long-press the notification for the conversation you’d like to set as a priority
  3. Select “Priority” in the resulting menu
  4. Tap “Done” at the lower-right-hand side of the notification to apply the change and revert back to the standard notification view

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