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How 'bubbling' Android Messages can save time and help you avoid missing texts

This hidden Android Messages feature is a game-changer for staying on top of important text message conversations. Here's how to enable it (and why you should).
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
people in bubbles
Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

I have certain contacts whose messages I need to ensure I never miss. There are many ways of doing this but my go-to is to use the "bubble" feature, which creates a small, movable bubble for the conversation on my phone's home screen. By doing this, I always know when an important contact has sent me a message and I can simply tap the bubble to open the conversation (without having to first open Messages). 

I only do this for very important conversations; otherwise, my display would be filled with bubbles and that's not very efficient. Android also allows you to bubble all conversations, but I wouldn't recommend that as it can crowd your homescreen.

Also: The best Android phones right now: Tested and reviewed

The bubbles feature has been around for some time, so your Android device should have it included with the Messages app. And given Messages is installed by default, you should be ready to go. One thing to keep in mind is that bubbles is separate from Rich Communication Services (RSC), so whether you've enabled that feature will not have any effect on bubbling conversations.

With that said, let's bubble.

How to bubble a Messages conversation

What you'll need: The only things you'll need are an Android device and a Messages conversation to bubble. That's it. Let's make it happen.

1. Open Messages

The first thing to do is open Messages on your Android device. 

2. Open Settings

Tap your profile photo in the upper right corner and, from the resulting popup, tap Messages settings.

3. Enable Bubbles

In the Settings page, tap Bubbles. In the resulting window, tap Selected conversations can bubble (or Selected only if you're on a Samsung device). Once you've done that, back out of Settings.

The Bubbles enable window in Messags.

By default, Messages is set such that nothing can bubble.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Bubble a conversation

Here's the trick. You have to wait until a message comes to your device before you can bubble the conversation. When a message does arrive (for a conversation you want to bubble), pull down the Notification Shade and tap History. Locate and long-press the message in question. On the resulting page, tap the On/Off slider for Bubble this conversation. If you're on a Samsung device, see below for further instructions. 

The Conversation Bubble On/Off slider.

You must enable Bubbles for each conversation you want.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you're using a Samsung Galaxy device, you won't find easy access to your notification history. Fortunately, Samsung has made it easy to bubble a conversation directly from the Notification itself. So, when you see a notification for a Messages conversation, expand it, and then tap the small square with the arrow pointing to the bottom right corner and the conversation will be added as a bubble to your homescreen.

The bubble button in a Samsung Galaxy notifcation.

The bubble icon is directly to the left of the bell.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Tap the bubble to view the conversation and respond. Once you're done, you can drag the bubble to the bottom of the display to dismiss it or you can leave it there for easy access. Personally, once I've responded, I drag the bubble off the screen so when it reappears, I know there's a message I need to respond to.

A sample Bubble on Android 13.

A conversation bubble can be moved to any place at the edge of your display.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Bubbles are a great way to ensure you never miss an important conversation on Android. I highly recommend using this feature, so you can be certain to stay up to date with certain contacts.

Also: How to enable read receipts for texts on Android

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that once you bubble a conversation, it will always appear in a bubble. The only way to stop that behavior is to go into your settings and disable the conversation for bubbling.

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