How to change the notification sounds in Lumia 950 & 950 XL

With more than one person in the office having multiple Windows 10 Mobile devices on their desk, it can get confusing which phone is sounding off a notification. Enough is enough, so I decided to finally change the default notification sounds. This is also helpful If you're tired of hearing the same notification sounds on your Lumia 950 or 950 XL. You can customize the sound per app. It's not very obvious in the Settings, so I'll show you how to do it.

  1. Go to Settings (Swipe down from top of the screen and tap All Settings)
  2. Tap System > Notifications & actions
  3. Tap an app from the list to change its default notification sound
  4. Select a sound under the Notification sound list. You can tap the play button next to the sound for a preview.

Notification Sounds

That's it! You'll need to do this for each app that you want to change the notification sound for. These instructions also work for other devices with Windows 10 Mobile.

You don't need to pick the same sound for each one. For example, I've changed the notification sounds for the apps I frequently use: Messaging app, Facebook Messenger, Outlook Mail, 6tag, and Slack Beta.

Are you changing up your default notification apps on your Lumia 950 or 950 XL? Let us know in the comments!

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Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

61 Comments
  • Custom tones as well???
  • Yes
  • Yup! Just put your custom sounds in the 'Ringtones' folder. This applies to ALL Windows 10 phones, not just 950/950 XL. :)
  • Or go to: Settings > Personalization > Sounds > Manage App Sounds
  • They should also allow changing alert sounds. The tone when accessing USSD menu is very irritating.
  • Mark, it's also good to note that you cannot change the notification sound on an app that hasn't sent a notification yet.
  • ^ This. I was initially very confused when setting my notification sounds because none of my apps were listed. Only after I received the first notification from each app did it appear in the menu.
  • Glad I could clear something up!
  • Nice observation!
  • Yeah! Took me a while to figure it out too...
  • I do but I'm lazy at times.
  • I think there is a bug.  I set a custom notification sound for WhatsApp and various other apps on my 950XL.  But for some reason when I turn the phone off and then on again, or soft reset, the notification sound for WhatsApp goes back to the default sound.  I then have to go back and change it back to my custom sound.  Anyone else having this issue? 
  • WhatsApp can set the notifications from within the app its self. I suspect it is resetting them, try changing it from within the WhatsApp settings.  
  • WhatsApp only has the option to choose stock notification sounds, not custom ones saved to the phone.
  • This was happening with the alarm sound on an early build of W10M on my 1020. Hasn't happened on my 950XL yet though.
  • Yes, having the same issue since the last build..
  • Same here, also 950XL. I also have the same issue on the new build (.29) with my 1520.3, very annoying! Did a hard reset on both devices and that does not help either
  • I can change all the tones I like, but no matter what I do the default sound is the only one that is used on my 950XL. I had this issue all through the preview builds on my 929 (Icon). I am tempted to try a hard reset since it appears I am the only one with this issue.
  • Yep, brand new 950XL, a build behind current Insider and Twitter loses its tone on power off.
  • Anyone know if it is possible to set different sounds for different email accounts? I did this in 8.1 but cannot see how to now.
  • Yes! Exact same thing happening to me.....also not getting any Facebook notifications even though they are switched on
  • What are the vibrate alerts like or just one short vibrate like on 8.1?
  • De
  • Fg
  • Rated PG?
  • C-c-c-combo b-b-b-breaker!!!!!
  • Any reason why the mp3 I put in the Ringtones folder isn't showing up from the selection menu? It's December. I can't let a December go by without Christmas In Hollis as my ringtone, darnit!
  • Make sure that the genre of the mp3 in the ringtone folder is set to "ringtone"
  • You don't need the genre anymore. The file just needs to be in the 'Ringtones' folder and have a length of less than 30 seconds.
  • Not true. At least for me anyway. I've moved several ringtones to that folder and they refuse to show up. Tried mp3 and wma formats and no difference. It's extremely finicky. 
  • Are people so Fing stupid that they need "how to" manual to change ringtones?! Why don't you make them "how to" make a call or write SMS too...?! :D
  • Well...i mean...when the usual way isnt' working due to a bug, a good conclusion to draw is "hmmm, maybe they switched up the process or something?"
  • Obviously this article isn't meant for super geniuses like you.
  • Isn't Windows Phone supposed to be easy? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Bad attitude dude, many are unaware of things they have not done before, why don't you get over yourself and grow up, your comment helps no one, jeez
  • I am having an issue with my messaging tone. When I try to change it,half the tones are missing and then it crashes and exits to the story screen! Anyone else had the issue?
  • Yup same for me. I have some custom sounds downloaded from Melodia and when scrolling through the ringtones and sounds within someone's profile in the People app it crashes while scrolling through them. I have to keep trying until it lets me pick the sound I want.
  • In settings, when sampling other notification sounds, it won't play the default to let you hear what it is. Ugh!
  • Hello. I use an app called 'Melodia' that has lots of themed tones (from games, other apps, etc) and can save them properly to the phone ringtone list. (y)
  • Not many people uses windows phone so I'll be the one who uses it and attract peoples attention then I'll show them how awesome my phone is. L950
  • Where is the xl review?
  • Regarding this, I´m a Insider, and I do not own a 950 or 950XL, I don't have that much of "Win10 ringtones" only 5 or 6 maybe, I want different sound for notifications, cause I don´t like custom tones for sms or Whatsapp or whatever, I like custom ringtones only for calls, but there´s almost no variety to do so.
  • Download Melodia.
  • This is for ALL Windows 10 phones... also, you can download any ringtone sounds... there's lots of free apps and websites and then just put it in your 'Ringtones' folder.
  • Love the notification sound of the WP central app! First I added it myself but it's okay of the app for some time now.
  • No word about LED notification
  • +930
  • Anyone know where to find some of the default WP 8.1 phone tones that are missing from W10M? There was a message tone present on my L920 & L830 previously running WP 8.1 that is not available running W10M. I've checked Nokia Soundcloud, Zedge app, and Bing search for Nokia or Lumia default tones, and not having any luck. Why does MS need to remove things we like???
  • Tradition, mostly.
  • I have a hard time with notifications. I am used to set a specific sms ringtone for some contacts and it doesn't work. I can set the sms ringtone to a phone ringtone but it is not used when receiving a SMS from that contact. Is there a workaround for this?  
  • Unfortunatley you need to select the "default" sound for the messaging app FIRST in notifications. Then select a custom sms tone for the contact. As well you will lose a custom sound for everyone else's sms in this process. So you actually need to repeat this process for anyone who texts you the most.
  • Which is the opposite of 8.1. I had a specific ringtone set for txt, but could also set one for contacts specifically and the contact was default txt tone. Now if anything but default is chosen for txt, it overrides the set txt tone for contacts. Having 950 dual Sim this is very annoying, I cannot set distinct MMS tones for each Sim, and have custom for contacts. Ringtone does work correctly, so obvious bug.
  • I can't see a way to "play" the Default sound; all the other sounds let you click Play. Do you know how to do that? For me, part of the problem with my new Lumia 950 is that I don't know what each sound means when I hear them. It's not that I want to change them, I just need to learn which is which. Is there any way to hear the Defautl sounds?
  • Looks like it's a stupid poorly designed limitation in W10M. Doesn't play for me either on my L830.
  • I have tried to set a ringtone for the phone calls from a contact. This seems to work fine, however, when I set the ringtone back to default the save button doesn't activate. So I can't save the changes. This need a little work.
  • Just wondering, how do you change the default ringtone for a phone call?  There is the app called phone into the list but its ringtone is set to default. Am I missing something?
  • The situation in the WPCentral office is pretty unique, if only it were more common haha in my team there are only 3 Windows Phone users including me and one of those users works in another office entirely! Still, 3 out of 11 isn't too bad I suppose.
  • Changing to custom sounds has never been more frustrating for me on any version of WP I've ever owned until now. Some settings override other settings which means if you thought you set a custom sound for something and it doesn't work it's because you need to set it somewhere else as well. Setting custom sound text sounds for contacts took me a week to figure out. I had a universal custom text sound which played for everyone's texts. But it played the same one even after setting a custom one for my dad. I had to revert the text sound to default (losing the custom sound effect for all texts) just to be able to assign him his own sound. On 8.1 this was never an issue. So I have to keep the default sound now to have custom sounds for specific people. Seems silly. Same goes for trying to set vibrate and banners for emails. What a mess that was trying to get working. One setting overriding another... So much for simplifying things.
  • What a mess is right...I have a number of email accounts that now all have to sound the same.
  • It's no wonder that so many people are turning away from WP mobile when Microsoft can't even get this right. It worked fine on WP8.1, why doesn't it work in W10M? I don't like the default sound for SMS, I like the alert4 sound like I had on WP8.1. But for one contact, I need a different sound as those SMS messages need my immediate attention. I could do this on WP8.1, but I can't now. So W10M has gone backwards IMO. Microsoft really don't deserve to win any market share, they are hopeless. I loved Windows Phone when I first got it, I'm losing my patience with it now.
  • Just receive the pointless Creators Update and subsequent 'patch' which along with many other issues such as broken email notification sounds, Edge browser text size issue, Barclays Bank app broken, the updates have cleared all my custom People ring and text tones I spend ages setting up! Support suggested I rebuild the phone OS of course - the only solution ever offered by Microsoft to fixt problems with their phone OS. As it is a Lumi 640 LTE which originaly came with WP8.1 (which worked!) rebuild will be a long and painfull process of re-install 8.1, upgrade to W10M and all patches - reason for problem in first place - if all that is successfull then reinstalling apps - if still available - and finally adjusting all the many settings to the way I want. As this is not a 'hobby' phone this will take up my valuable time. I have requested Microsoft compensate me for this with a cash payment. Perhaps everyone who has to put up with this disgraceful phone software should do the same!