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Set custom notifications for each Hangouts conversation

Want to know who's messaging or calling you on Hangouts before you even look at your device? Check out these steps for changing the alert tones for each conversation.

Photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

On Android, it's easy to set a custom ringtone for your contacts. Unfortunately, you couldn't do the same for their Google Hangouts messages. With the latest update to the app, you can set custom alerts on a per-conversation basis. Using a custom alert is helpful when you're preoccupied and not sure if you want to check your device to see who wants your attention. One tone can be used for your family, or close friends, and maybe another for your work contacts.

Ready to set your custom alerts? Here's how:

The menu inside a Hangouts conversation.

Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 1: Open a conversation with someone for whom you want to set a custom alert in Hangouts and press the menu button (3 dots). Choose People & options.

Settings area for Hangouts conversations.

Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 2: Tap on Chat message sound or Call ringtone -- whichever you want to set first.

Available alert tones that you can choose from.

Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 3: Pick a sound for that contact from the pop-up list.

You may be wondering what happens if you set an alert tone for a friend, and then set a different one for a group chat they are partaking in, what will happen? Well, good news: the original alert tone will work for their individual messages to you, and when they use the group chat, the alert set for those will play instead.

Editors' Note: This How To was originally published on June 5, 2014, and has been updated to include new information.