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How to enable the Google Pixel's LED notification light

The Pixel's Ambient Display mode gives you a great gentle reminder on your screen whenever a notification is sitting waiting for your attention, but some people prefer the simplicity and battery savings of a basic LED notification light. The Pixel and Pixel XL actually have a notification LED nestled into the far left side of the loudspeaker at the top of the phone, though you wouldn't know it because it's not enabled by default.

If you want to switch from using Ambient Display to the notification LED or just want to have both for the total package of alertness, here's how you enable it.

  1. Go to your phone's Settings.
  2. Tap on Notifications.
  3. Tap on the Gear icon in the top-right corner.
  4. Tap on the toggle next to "Pulse notification light".

And that's it! Your Pixel will now blink its notification light when you have a notification waiting. There are no further settings or configuration options that let you change the color or frequency, but you'll at least have that extra little nudge — in addition to Ambient Display — letting you know your phone has something to tell you.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

32 Comments
  • Get Lightflow and set the colors as you see fit.
  • Lightflow has an annoying bug where anytime the screen turns off, either due to normal timeout or pressing the Power button, it wakes the screen three times within a couple of minutes. Considering how often I use the phone and the frequency of this annoyance I contacted the developer and provided specifics, including wake logs, but he just blew me off (even though I have the paid version) so now I use Light Manager https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... YMMV.
  • I have never experienced that with Lightflow...
  • That's if you use it with Ambient Display. I also use Light Manager due to this. I've seen numerous people tell him(lightflow dev) that there is a bug with Ambient Display and he has so far refused to address it. It's almost as if light flow creates a hidden notification that is triggering ambient display since it seems to turn on the screen the same as ambient display does when you get a propper notification. Light manager is easier to use but lightflow has a ton of extra options, including the vibration options, which is why I'd prefer to use it but whatever. Ideally Google would have some sort of API for a light but I have no clue if that's even possible or if that even makes sense. (Seems like whenever you want something to work across all devices you want an API, lol )
  • I stopped using Ambient Display because I thought it was bugged; I had no idea that Light Flow was causing the problem. You're a champion. I just switched to Light Manager and turned AD on. Thank you.
  • I've exchanged e-mails and worked with the lightflow dev a couple times in the past to get bugs resolved and he's always been very helpful. Of course YMMV.
  • The RGB notification LED is one my favorite features of the Nexus/Pixel line and have been using Lightflow for years.
  • I wish AOSP/stock Android would incorporate this from CM. The option "choose colors automatically" will attempt to find the most prevalent color in the app icon and use that color for notifications from this app. http://i.imgur.com/ROpbzVu.png
  • To late for me... I have been using certain colors for certain type of notifications NOT apps for to long. What do you do if switch say your app you use for SMS? Retrain yourself a different color is now for a SMS message?
  • Light Flow has also been known to cause partial kernel wake locks and affect battery life negatively. This was more prominent pre Doze though, Doze could have inadvertently resolved this.
  • Doze didn't resolve the problem. I also included logs from Wakelock Detector Lite https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... as well as notification/toast tracking information showing that there was a consistent, repeatable problem but the developer chose not to address the issue. Oh well.
  • Good to know I'm still right to avoid this one then lol.
  • Is there support for all colors, or is it the usual limited HTC palette? For that matter, the 6P didn't support all colors either.
  • Yes and so did the Nexus 6P. What are you talking about?
  • No, it didn't. Could not display orange, for example.
  • I have never heard that but it would still be a far cry from the the 2 colors the HTC LED can display. Yes?
  • I had one and was a little disappointed because I had enjoyed using Lightflow on Samsung and LG devices. But yes, certainly better than HTC's. I think I'm in the minority on this. I really appreciate being able to just glance at my phone and, by assigning contact colors, know who's texting me.
  • My Nexus 6p most certainly CAN display orange on the rgb led. I just tried it with light manager after reading this comment and it is showing orange.
  • Ok, well maybe a software update allowed that, because it absolutely could not when I owned mine. It could do red, but not orange.
  • But can you turn off the Ambient Display? Shouldn't there be a simple switch between the two? Or a nice menu screen where you can select both of them together? It looks like the UI is a little unfinished, like most of Google software nowadays...
  • Ambient Display toggle should be under the display settings unless they moved it.
  • Yes you can turn off Ambient Display.
  • Isn't the display supposed to light up when you pick up the phone?
  • Funny. The first thing I do on my Samsung phone is turn off the LED indicator.
  • I love Samsung so much I normally do six cartwheels when I first get the phone.
  • The Pixel has got LED notifications? Wow...
  • Hopefully its not cr@ppy like on the Nexus 6P (can't display many colors, pretend RGB)
  • I mean Heaven forbid an almost $1000 phone (on the top end) have a way of visually making you aware by way of a blinking spectrum of light that you have messages/missed calls/notifications, etc.. I am shocked and chagrined.
  • I didn't know that too! I wish there were pics of it on the internet.
  • It is in the left edge of the speaker cutout. It seems to work alright, but it is pretty dim.
  • There is also a setting for the Do Not Disturb mode that will enable you to turn off the notification light when do not disturb is enabled - no more waking up to a flashing phone on your nightstand in the middle of the night!
  • But the led notification does NOT work for missed calls. Works fine for missed txt message. trido