If it matters any I have an HTC Desire Z with the original Sense install.

We have this monitoring service at work that keeps an eye on the various servers and starts frantically SMS'ing me whenever things aren't working right.

I'd like to set a separate notification tone for SMS's from that one contact. How do you do that? Under the contact I have an option for the Ringtone, but there doesn't seem to be an option for the SMS notification tone.

  • As pointed out by bstewart below, there is a no "3rd party app required" solution built into android. It's just a little buried is all.
    – Madivad
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 11:03
  • In android 8.1 stock phones, you can achieve this as follows. Tap "new message" icon on the desired contact, then go to top-right menu in the new message screen, tap "Details" and you will see an option for notifications which allows you set a custom notification setting just for the selected contact. You can verify it later by navigating from the settings app to see notification settings for Messages app. It shows up under a new section "Conversations". Enjoy!
    – ottodidakt
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 6:46

7 Answers 7


Go into your contacts. Open the contact you want to personalize the message tone. Click "edit". Then scroll down to the bottom and click on "ADD ANOTHER FIELD". Tap to put a check mark beside "Message tone" then tap "OK". Then tap on "Message tone" and your options should come up e.g. Media storage, Zedge, etc. Tap which option you want to choose the message tone for that person. then choose the ringtone for them and tap "set ringtone". Make sure you then "save" that contact.
That worked for me with my Samsung Galaxy S5. Hope this works for you.

  • Answers that have built in solutions are always the best. Came here because I was looking for this feature. I thought it existed but couldn't find it. Thanks @bstewart that's exactly what I wanted. Now, to find a fog horn sound for the Mrs' SMSs :)
    – Madivad
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 11:00
  • This needs to be the correct answer! Thanks!!!
    – Yeti
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 6:54
  • 2
    Does not seem to work with Android 6.1.0. There's no "Add another field" action in Contacts, anymore. Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 11:39

Ryan is correct and I would recommend SMS Popup. Been using it since my G1 days. Lots of options like quick replies, custom vibration, and alert repetition to complement the custom message tones. You will need to turn off the native message notifications though, but it's definitely worth it.

  • 1
    Plus, as I understand, the author tries to maintain it using only user donations. Thus it doesn't contain any ads as Handcent does, for example. Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 19:32

Another option is Ringo (Play Store, developer's site), which I've been using for over a year and it works great for just this purpose (I have a server that yells at me too). The free version has everything I need, though there is a paid version with more options as well.

Update if you use Hangouts as your messaging app: As of Hangouts version 2.1.2 (June 2014), you can customize the sound for each conversation. To do so:

  1. Open (or start) a conversation with the contact you'd like to edit
  2. Tap the three dots in the upper right corner
  3. Tap "People & options"
  4. Tap "Chat message sound" and select the sound you'd like

Update if you use Messenger as your messaging app: As of sometime in 2015 or earlier, you can follow the same instructions as for Hangouts above, except in #4 you select "Sound".

  • Thanks! Ringo is fantastic, does what I wanted. I've set it to play the sounds and the messages app to notify, but without sound. So now I get the nice notification and custom sounds.
    – Campey
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 19:34
  • Link is dead, and I am not sure if this is the same Ringo google finds -- "low cost international calls". Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 9:27
  • @greenoldman - Sorry I hadn't seen this sooner. Updated the link and added info about Messenger. Thanks for the heads up.
    – kevinmicke
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 11:01

You cannot change the notification tone for a single user, only the Ringtone. You may be able to find a 3rd party SMS that will allow you to set up different notification sounds for specific users, but I am not aware of any.

  • 1
    I think Handcent will allow you to do it.
    – Chance
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 19:17
  • Handcent is an additional SMS app. Technically you disable sounds from the built-in app and use Handcent which has more configuration options, including the option to use custom notification sound for each person. Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 11:41

Use Go SMS Pro to change individual customization for notification.


If you don't want to download a new messenger app, you can try using Contact Alert. It allows you to set custom notification sounds per contact and runs parallel to whatever messaging app you currently use. You will have to turn off sounds in your current messenger app to prevent your phone from playing 2 notifications at once.


this is what I did without any 3rd party apps.. for a long time I used go sms.. but.. if you go into and make your own file folders by coopying and pasting.. voile'!

  1. Open My Files application (The default file manager on Samsung devices)
  2. Under Local Storage, open the Device Storage option
  3. Browse the audio file, long press on it, tap the 3dot icon, and select the Copy option
  4. under Device Storage, find the "Notifications" folder, open it, and Paste the copied audio file
  5. Now, open the Messages application
  6. Tap the 3dot icon and Settings after that
  7. Tap the Notifications option, and then the Notification Sound.
  8. On the opened list, you should now see the name of your audio file, and you just need to select it.
  • 1
    The answer changes all notification sounds, not just the desired contact's notifications. Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 10:36

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