How to Use Disappearing Messages in Signal

Feb 4, 2021 - Leave a Comment

How to use Disappearing Messages in Signal

If you’re a Signal messenger user, you can further improve the security and privacy of your Signal communications and messages by enabling and using the disappearing messages feature. Just as it sounds, disappearing messages causes Signal to automatically disappear and remove messages after a specified time period. Even better is that it’s customizable, so you can set disappearing messages to be enabled for specific contacts, and you can toggle the feature off and on at any time (as can the other person you’re communicating with).

For some quick background for the unfamiliar; Signal is a popular and highly regarded free secure messaging client that not only enhances communication privacy and security with end-to-end encryption, but is also popular because of it being cross-platform compatible, available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. That cross-platform availability makes it more versatile than iMessage, which while also encrypted, is limited to the Apple ecosystem. Signal requires a phone number to setup, but once you have it configured on an iPhone or Android you can then easily setup the client on a Mac, Windows PC, and other desktops too. And this might be obvious, but anyone you want to communicate with using Signal will need to have the Signal app on their device or computer as well.

Let’s walkthrough how to setup disappearing messages in Signal, including Signal messenger for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux:

How to Use Disappearing Messages in Signal to Vanish Conversations Automatically

This applies to all Signal clients regardless of platform, including iOS with iPhone and iPad and Android, though the below screenshots demonstrate with iPhone.

  1. Open the Signal app, then visit the conversation / message thread that you want to set disappearing messages for
  2. Tap on the contacts name and/or the settings button icon at the message screen
  3. Locate “Disappearing Messages” in the contact info settings and toggle that switch ON
  4. Next adjust the “Set messages to disappear after …” slider to the time you’d like messages to be automatically disappeared after, you can choose anywhere from 5 seconds all the way up to 1 week
  5. How to enable and use disappearing messages in Signal

  6. Tap the Back button and then repeat with other contacts and conversations in Signal if you want to setup Disappearing Messages for those conversations as well

The disappearing messages feature will apply to both sent and received messages in a conversation with the contact you set this feature for, and it applies after the message has been seen (or opened) on the recipients Signal client.

Adjusting the Signal Disappearing Messages Time in Signal Mobile

After you have enabled Disappearing Messages for a particular contact in Signal, you can quickly adjust the Signal disappearing messages time by tapping the clock icon at any time.

So for example if you want to send a message that only lasts 5 seconds, you could quickly toggle that setting on to 5 seconds, send the message, wait for the recipient to receive it, then adjust the disappearing messages setting back to say an hour, 6 hours, 12 hours, or a week again.

How to set disappearing messages time for Signal easily

How to Set Disappearing Messages in Signal Desktop for Mac, Linux, Windows

Depending on where you are using Signal, you may find enabling disappearing messages on the desktop Signal app to be slightly different than the mobile app. This is only because the settings location is accessed differently, but all else is the same in terms of functionality of disappearing messages.

On the desktop Signal messenger, to set and adjust Disappearing Messages simply do the following:

  1. Select the Signal message thread you want to configure disappearing messages for so that it’s the active window, then click the Gear icon (Settings) in the corner
  2. How to use Disappearing Messages on Signal desktop for Mac Windows or Linux

  3. Pull down to the “Disappearing Messages” menu and choose the time you want to set disappearing messages for:
  4. How to set disappearing messages time in Signal desktop

The setting takes effect immediately, and will carry across to all other devices you are using Signal for, as well as with the individuals in that conversation.

Disappearing messages is a wonderful feature for an app like Signal where privacy and security is the primary focus and feature, so if having your communications vanish sounds like something you’re interested in, check out the Signal app and configure it yourself, it’s a free download available here at Signal.org.

If you know of any other interesting tips, tricks, or settings for Signal or other messaging apps that enhance security and privacy, share with us in the comments below.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Security, Tips & Tricks

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