Android Status Bar Icons: What They Mean and How to Remove Them

Use the System UI tool to manage the Android symbols at the top of the screen

An Android phone's status bar is an area at the top of the device's screen that displays a series of icons that represent the status of certain system and also services as a place for notifications.

These icons can represent information about your wireless connection 9cellular network or you home Wi-Fi) and it can tell you you've received a text message. As you add apps to your device, you can also find out additional information such someone liked your latest Tweet.

These notifications can start to pile up quickly, but we'll show you how to keep things tidy.

What Are Android Status Bar Icons?

Android Status Bar icons are simply notifications in the system user interface from apps running on your device. These notifications can contain text, graphics, and even controls. When the system UI receives this message, it responds by putting it in the Notifications Drawer at the top of the screen.

Android's Notification Drawer

Is System UI Available on All Androids?

System UI is the user interface on your Android device. All Android devices have System UI, though some—such as those manufactured by Samsung—might have another user interface installed over the Android System UI. In the case of Samsung phones, the user interface is called One UI.

Because this is a consistent interface on all Android phones, all Android devices, including Android tablets, will display notifications using Android status bar icons, including those with the Samsung One UI installed.

How Android Status Bar Icons Work

Once you receive an Android status bar icon notification, you need to open the Notifications Drawer to access the notification each icon represents. Then, you can usually tap the notification to open its corresponding app. Depending on the app, you may be able to take other actions as well, such as pausing and playing music.

When you tap a notification you'll be taken to that specific app and the notification will disappear; Android assumes you've been notified. But in the event you don't want to jump around a dozen apps just to clean up the top of your screen, you can also Dismiss notifications easily.

How to Dismiss Android Notifications

The easiest way to get rid of notifications is as follows.

  1. First, swipe down from the top of the screen to open the Notification Drawer.

  2. Be sure to review the notifications to make sure you're not getting rid of anything important.

  3. After you have reviewed your notifications, swipe the Notification either left or right to dismiss it.

    It's important to note that dismissing Notifications is permanent. Once they're gone, Android doesn't have a "history" or other record of them. But you're also not "deleting anything by doing so (i.e. dismissing a text notification doesn't erase the text message itself). Whatever message or event that triggered the Notification is still there... but it's now up to you to find it.

How to Disable Insistent Android Notifications 

In some cases, an app's notification is tied to the app running. In other words, if you dismiss a notification, you'll close the app as well. But this isn't always the case. Occasionally, you'll come across notifications that can't be swiped off-screen. There's a few reasons this can happen.

The notification is displaying the status in a currently-running app. In this case, shutting down the offending app should do the trick. Similarly, a previously running app may have started a service in the background that's still going. There should be something on the notification to stop the service. Finally, some misbehaving apps simply put notifications up there you can't dismiss.

Stubborn Notifications Settings Icon

In this extreme case, the notification won't disappear when you swipe, but instead it will reveal a gear icon which will take you to the App Notifications settings for that app. If they're being a nuisance, you can toggle Show Notifications off, but bear in mind this is turning off all Notifications for the app, so make sure there's nothing critical you'll miss by doing so.

How to Disable Android App Notifications

Even if you don't get the gear icon when you swipe an Android Status Bar Icon notification, you can still disable the notifications for any app. Here's how:

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Notifications > See All.

  3. Find the app for which you want to disable notifications, and tap the toggle switch to turn notifications off. The switch should turn white when it's off and blue when it's on.

    Google App Show Notifications Switch

    This same permission is available by going to Settings > Apps, choosing your app, then changing the Notifications setting in the App settings section.