Request special permissions

A special permission guards access to system resources that are particularly sensitive or not directly related to user privacy. These permissions are different than install-time permissions and runtime permissions.

Figure 1: The Special app access screen in system settings.

Some examples of special permissions include:

  • Scheduling exact alarms.
  • Displaying and drawing over other apps.
  • Accessing all storage data.

Apps that declare a special permission are shown in the Special app access page in system settings (figure 1). To grant a special permission to the app, a user must navigate to this page: Settings > Apps > Special app access.


To request a special permission, do the following:

  1. In your app's manifest file, declare the special permissions that your app might need to request.
  2. Design your app's UX so that specific actions in your app are associated with specific special permissions. Let users know which actions might require them to grant permission for your app to access private user data.
  3. Wait for the user to invoke the task or action in your app that requires access to specific private user data. At that time, your app can request the special permission that's required for accessing that data.
  4. Check whether the user has already granted the special permission that your app requires. To do so, use each permission's custom checking function. If granted, your app can access the private user data. If not, continue to the next step. Note: You must check whether you have the permission every time you perform an operation that requires that permission.
  5. Present a rationale to the user in a UI element that clearly explains what data your app is trying to access and what benefits the app can provide to the user if they grant the special permission. In addition, since your app sends users to system settings to grant the permission, also include brief instructions that explain how users can grant the permission there. The rationale UI should provide a clear option for the user to opt-out of granting the permission. After the user acknowledges the rationale, continue to the next step.
  6. Request the special permission that your app requires to access the private user data. This likely involves an intent to the corresponding page in system settings where the user can grant the permission. Unlike runtime permissions, there is no popup permission dialog.
  7. Check the user's response – whether they chose to grant or deny the special permission – in the onResume() method.
  8. If the user granted the permission to your app, you can access the private user data. If the user denied the permission instead, gracefully degrade your app experience so that it provides functionality to the user without the information that's protected by that permission.
Figure 2: Workflow for declaring and requesting special permissions on Android.

Request special permissions

Unlike runtime permissions, the user must grant special permissions from the Special App Access page in system settings. Apps can send users there using an intent, which pauses the app and launches the corresponding settings page for a given special permission. After the user returns to the app, the app can check if the permission has been granted in the onResume() function.

The following sample code shows how to request the SCHEDULE_EXACT_ALARMS special permission from users:

val alarmManager = getSystemService<AlarmManager>()!!
when {
   // if permission is granted, proceed with scheduling exact alarms…
   alarmManager.canScheduleExactAlarms() -> {
   else -> {
       // ask users to grant the permission in the corresponding settings page

Sample code to check the permission and handle user decisions in onResume():

override fun onResume() {
   // ...

   if (alarmManager.canScheduleExactAlarms()) {
       // proceed with the action (setting exact alarms)
   else {
       // permission not yet approved. Display user notice and gracefully degrade
       your app experience.

Best practices and tips

The following sections provide some best practices and considerations when requesting special permissions.

Each permission has its own check method

Special permissions operate differently than runtime permissions. Instead, refer to the permissions API reference page and use the custom access check functions for each special permission. Examples include AlarmManager#canScheduleExactAlarms() for the SCHEDULE_EXACT_ALARMS permission and Environment#isExternalStorageManager() for the MANAGE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission.

Request in-context

Similar to runtime permissions, apps should request special permissions in-context when the user requests a specific action that requires the permission. For example, wait to request the SCHEDULE_EXACT_ALARMS permission until the user schedules an email to be sent at a specific time.

Explain the request

Provide a rationale before redirecting to system settings. Since users leave the app temporarily to grant special permissions, show an in-app UI before you launch the intent to the Special App Access page in system settings. This UI should clearly explain why the app needs the permission and how the user should grant it on the settings page.