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Android Lollipop (including 5.0 and 5.1) has a new way to help you deal with interruptions. It’s called Priority Mode, which is like a gatekeeper for notifications. You tell it what to let through, and what to keep out. Here’s how to use it to limit distractions and get back the silent mode you had on your last version of Android.

We’ve talked about some of Android Lollipop’s cool new features Android 5.0 Lollipop: What It Is And When You'll Get It Android 5.0 Lollipop: What It Is And When You'll Get It Android 5.0 Lollipop is here, but only on Nexus devices. What exactly is new about this operating system, and when can you expect it to arrive on your device? Read More , but we didn’t mention Priority Mode then because it was a small thing. Additionally, we were on the fence about it since Google also did away with the traditional yet reliable silent mode.

But Priority Mode seems here to stay, so in this guide, we’ll help you take control of it.

What Is Priority Mode and What Does It Do?

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If you have an Android device running 5.0 Lollipop or newer, you’ll have Priority Mode by default. To access it, press the Volume Up or Volume Down button on your phone, and you’ll see the option under the volume slider indicated by a star.

Priority Mode’s job is to block annoying notifications in Android How to Disable Notifications from Any App in Android How to Disable Notifications from Any App in Android Getting annoying ad notifications on your Android device? Turn them off quickly and easily. Read More . However, the app isn’t a smart app; i.e. it does not automatically learn which app is annoying or which person’s calls you want to receive. That is something you will have to set yourself.

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Additionally, Priority Mode can be set to kick into action automatically at a certain time on certain days, or a certain time every day. For example, it is easy to automate Android to not disturb you at night The Quiet Guide: Don't Let Your Droid Disturb You During The Night The Quiet Guide: Don't Let Your Droid Disturb You During The Night Mobile devices provide lots of tools that allow you to become far more productive than ever before. No matter where you are, on a moment’s notice, you can connect with the outside world, fix problems... Read More .

How to Set Priority Mode Durations & Automate It

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When you activate Priority Mode through the volume buttons, you can set it to run:

  1. Indefinitely — You will have to manually deactivate it when you’re ready to allow interruptions
  2. For a fixed time — You can set it to be automatically deactivated after 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, or 8 hours.

Downtime-priority-mode

Next to “Priority Interruptions Only”, you’ll see a little Settings cog. Tap that, and you can fix a custom “Downtime” where the phone will automatically go into Priority Mode, or you can even set a complete Do-Not-Disturb (DND) mode where no interruptions are allowed.

Scroll to the bottom of the settings, and you can:

  1. Pick the days of the week you want Downtime to kick in automatically.
  2. Set a start time and an end time.
  3. Under “Interruptions allowed”, choose “Priority Only” to allow Priority Mode, or “None” for the blanket DND Mode.

For example, setting up a DND mode for the weekends might be useful to get you that downtime you need away from work, and it’ll stop the phone from ruining your life How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life Your smartphone could be ruining your life, or at least have the capacity to do so in the future. Read More .

How to Allow Calls and Texts from the Right People

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In the same Settings page, you can also toggle events, reminders, calls, and texts to allow or disallow them in Priority Mode.

For calls and texts, you can further filter them according to people. You can allow calls and messages from anyone, from people in your contacts book, or only from starred contacts in your phone book.

If you don’t have starred contacts, you’ll have to go into your phonebook and do that. You can use the default Android Contacts app or a third-party solution like the best Contacts and Dialer app What Is the Best Contacts & Dialer App for Android? What Is the Best Contacts & Dialer App for Android? You don't have to settle for your phone's built-in contacts and dialer apps. Read More , Contacts+.

How to Allow an App in Priority Mode

As we discussed, Priority Mode is a gatekeeper of sorts. It will only allow notifications from apps that you approve of. So how do you allow these apps?

settings-app-notifications

In Android Lollipop, there is a new menu to manage notifications for all apps, which is where you will need to go.

  1. Go to Settings > Sound and Notification > App Notifications
  2. Tap the app you want to allow in Priority Mode
  3. Tap the toggle for Priority, which will let this app’s notifications go through in Priority Mode.

app-notifications-priority-toggle

However, this does not work in tandem with your starred contacts. For example, if you allow WhatsApp Messenger in Priority Mode, that means you will get notifications about anything that happens on WhatsApp, not just messages and WhatsApp voice calls WhatsApp Voice Call: Everything You Need to Know WhatsApp Voice Call: Everything You Need to Know Popular instant messaging app WhatsApp has finally launched a new voice calling service, enabling users to make phone calls over the Internet. Read More from starred contacts in your Android phonebook.

You could use WhatsApp’s own notifications settings to further filter who you want to get notifications from and who you don’t. Most major social networking and messenger apps on Android allow you to set notifications at this level.

How Do I Bring Back Silent Mode?

soundhub-sliders

Don’t like Priority Mode and you want good old Silent Mode back? As always, there’s an app for that! Meet SoundHUD, which you can download and try for free for two weeks, after which it’s paid.

SoundHUD adds deeper volume control settings to your Volume Up/Down buttons. With this, you can control the volume for your phone’s ringer, notifications, alarm, music, and voice calls. It shows up when you press the volume buttons, so you can quickly adjust settings for a particular sound source and get back to what you were doing.

If you plan on using SoundHUD, we recommend going into the app’s Advanced Settings and enabling the options for Ignore long presses and Disable on lockscreen. That way, the app doesn’t mess with other Android features.

Download: SoundHUD for Android (Free trial for 14 days | $1.5 to unlock)

Do You Like Priority Mode?

Priority Mode has got a lot of hate in the Android community — mainly because true silent mode was taken away. However, the more I play with Priority Mode, the more I’m warming up to it.

What do you think of this feature from Android? Do you miss silent mode? Let us know in the comments.

  1. david gwinup
    November 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    I just switched from iOS to Android and I cannot believe there is no easy way to silence the entire phone. I use the hardware switch probably a dozen times a day based on what I'm doing and the environments I move between. Any more than a couple clicks for guaranteed silence or guaranteed notifications is beyond idiotic and will not work for me.

  2. Sue
    October 20, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    This is crazy. There should be a simple way to silence the phone. What if you are in an emergency situation and your phone making any noise could endanger your life but you NEED the phone to get help?

  3. Maria
    September 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Not liking priority mode so far in fact bordering on hate it. It keeps switching on unintentionally very annoying

    • Robyn
      September 20, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      I'm not even bordering on hate it any more, I totally hate it. It keeps turning on and I can't get it to stay off. Have missed way too many calls and texts. I have tried all the suggested "fixes" and nothing works

  4. ann lovett
    July 26, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    I DON'T LIKE IT ..MY VOLUME KEEPS GOING DOWN AND I HAVE MISSED 3 DR.S APPOINTMENTS BECAUSE OF IT...WHY DO l HAVE TO PAY TO GET RID OF IT ...I DIDN'T ASK FOF IT TO BE PUT ON MY PHONE....I WANT IT OFF OR DISABLED OR WHATEVER...DONT WANT ON MY PHONE...

  5. Steve McDonald
    November 13, 2015 at 12:06 am

    I'm running 5.0 & don't have it

  6. Naftali Friedman
    August 20, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I find None is a good as silent. I agree that it takes getting used to, but it happens

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      I kinda agree, over time, you get used to it. But I still miss Silent Mode :(

  7. Ted B.
    August 20, 2015 at 11:42 am

    That's it.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      ?

  8. Lori Walsh-Cook
    August 20, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I have 5.0 and I don't have priority mode. Is there something in the setting that I need to unlock?

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 20, 2015 at 3:13 am

      Running stock Android? Nothing you need to unlock on stock Android.

    • Andy Roberts
      August 25, 2015 at 9:16 am

      I've got 5.0.1 stock Android, but no priority mode either.

    • Vincent Bevort
      August 27, 2015 at 7:36 am

      I have a stock 5.0.2 tab S that also doesn't have this feature.
      Is this really released for 5.0.x or is it only in 5.1.x?

      • Mihir Patkar
        August 27, 2015 at 6:16 pm

        Strange. 5.0 for me, stock, I get priority mode.

  9. Ted B.
    August 19, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Power Toggles widget also has these advanced volume features and it's free

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