How to enable Notification History on your Android (and why you should)

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June Wan/ZDNet

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either accidentally deleted a notification I actually needed to read or brushed one off… only to find out l should have paid attention. In earlier iterations of Android, tracking down dismissed notifications wasn’t easy. In some cases, it was simply impossible, which meant you could have missed something and would never know it until it’s too late. The meeting has passed, the opportunity is lost, or the party is over. That has dramatically changed over the years and now it’s simple to view your entire history for the past 24 hours. 

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You read that correctly… 24 hours. Although Android makes it easy to view your history, it does not retain an entire backlog of notifications. That’s a smart move, as not only would an entire history of notifications start to gobble up local storage space, your phone would eventually become so slow it would be unusable. Ergo, the 24-hour limitation. There used to be trustworthy apps that could be installed and used to log notifications. Unfortunately, those apps have either become untrusted, haven’t been updated in some time, are too costly to be viable, or simply no longer work. On top of which, when there’s a built-in feature to be had, I always suggest using it over a third-party app (for security purposes).

But even though you are limited to the past 24 hours, it’s still a very handy feature to have available and one that I use frequently. 

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There are two ways to access your notification history, both of which are really easy. Which one you use will depend on which version of Android you are using. I will be demonstrating on Android 12, but the process is the same for Android 11 and 13. 

How to enable Notification History

Pull down the Notification Shade twice from the top of your screen and tap on the gear icon under the quick tiles section to open your phone’s settings.

Once in the Settings app, tap on Notifications to go into the Notifications settings.

Notifications settings

Accessing the Notification History in Android 12.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Tap “Notification history” and tap the on/off slider to activate the feature. Since you’ve only just enabled it, you won’t find any entries listed. You should very shortly start receiving notifications, which will now be logged.

empty Notification history

Enabling Notification history.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

How to access the notification history

Now that it’s enabled, there are three ways to access the notification history. The first is the easiest. Pull down your Notification Shade once and then scroll down to the bottom of your notifications. You should now see a History button. 

Notification history

Figure 3. The History button has been added to your Notification Shade.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Tap History to access your past 24 hours of notifications.

Notification history

Figure 4: All your history belongs to us you!

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you tap any one of those notification entries, it will open either the app that sent the notification or the settings for that app, from which you can reach the app. So, if you tap a Slack notification entry from the history, it’ll open the Slack app. 

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You can also access your Settings app from the set of options you reach by pulling down the Notification Shade twice. Tap the Settings gear icon at the bottom, then tap Notifications, and then Notification history, as you did to enable it. This will take you to the same window as did the History button from within the Notification Shade, showing you your recent notifications. 

A caveat to this is, in my experience, while tapping a notification from within the Notification Shade will open the specific message/email/event associated with the notification, tapping it from within Settings will only open the app or, as with Google Drive, only the notification settings for that app. 

The third way to view your Notification history is by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to open your app drawer, tapping on the Settings gear icon, and selecting Notifications and then Notification history. 

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However you access it, this is a great way to ensure that you don’t accidentally miss a notification from any app or service on your Android device.


Is there a way to see all of your past Android notifications?

In short, no. Android only keeps the past 24 hours of notifications so they don’t clog up the local storage on your phone. At a certain point, all that locally stored data would slow down the phone until it became unresponsive, hence the 24-hour limit. There used to be third-party apps in the Google Play Store that were viable options, but those are either no longer available, no longer trustworthy, or cost-prohibitive for many.

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