Whatsapp has been testing the ability to send disappearing messages within the app for quite some time now. The feature first debuted in Whatsapp beta last year and allowed users to send messages that would disappear after 7 days.
After much wait, the support pages for disappearing messages are now live on Whatsapp’s support page which leads many to believe that the stable release of this feature is just right around the corner. If you are looking to make the most of this feature then we have the perfect guide for you. Let’s get started.
What is a disappearing message in WhatsApp?
Disappearing messages is a new feature in Whatsapp that will automatically delete all your sent messages after 7 days. These messages will be removed from your chat as well as the receiver’s chat.
Disappearing messages are also available for Whatsapp groups which will help you send temporary messages in groups. Once the messages are removed from Whatsapp after 7 days there will be no way to recover them.
Combined with Whatsapp’s ability to end-to-end encrypt your chat, this will provide enhanced security and privacy for your private and workplace chats.
How do disappearing messages work in Whatsapp?
Disappearing messages are quite simply removed from chats once they expire. There are however a few exceptions where your disappearing message could still be recorded or remain in the chat under certain conditions. Let’s take a quick look at them.
In case the disappearing message has not been opened by the receiver for 7 days, then its preview could still be visible in the notification shade. Once this message/WhatsApp is opened after the expiry date, the message will be automatically deleted from the receiver’s device.
What happens when a disappearing message is quoted?
In case your disappearing message is quoted by the other user in the chat section, then it could remain in the quoted section of the chat.
What happens when a disappearing message is forwarded?
Forwarding a disappearing message might not delete it in case the person forwarding it has turned off disappearing messages.
Are disappearing messages saved in the cloud backup?
Disappearing messages will be backed up to the cloud if a backup is created before the expiration date. However, they will be deleted immediately once the backup is restored to your current version of Whatsapp.
What Whatsapp version do I need for disappearing messages?
Currently, Whatsapp is yet to roll out the stable release with disappearing messages. Once the update is rolled out to the general public, we will be able to give you the specific version of Whatsapp that enables disappearing messages for all users. This feature was first introduced back in 2019 with the Whatsapp beta version 2.19.275.
How to enable disappearing messages
Disappearing messages are an independent function that will need to be turned on for each contact or group chat in Whatsapp. Let’s take a look at how you can do this.
Open Whatsapp and open the chat (or group chat, provided you are an admin) where you want to enable disappearing messages. Now tap on the ‘contact/chat’s name’ at the top of your screen. Tap on ‘Disappearing Messages’.
You will now be prompted about the feature and its function. Tap on ‘Continue’ to proceed to the next step. Note: This prompt might not be displayed for some users.
Tap and select ‘On’ to turn on disappearing messages for the selected chat. And that’s it! Disappearing messages will now be turned on for the selected chat.
How to disable disappearing messages
If you wish to disable disappearing messages, then simply follow the same guide above. Once you are on the Disappearing messages section in the Contact details, simply select ‘Off’ instead of ‘On’. Once selected, disappearing messages will be automatically turned off for the concerned chat.
Can I enable disappearing messages for all the chats at once?
Well, nope. At the moment, the feature is required by WhatsApp to be turned on manually for each contact or group chat.
Is the disappearing message feature safe to use?
While completely safe to use, Whatsapp recommends that you only rely on this feature with trusted contacts. It is not like your sent messages will be safe from prying eyes as they can still be easily stored or backed up despite enabling disappearing messages in Whatsapp. Here are some scenarios where your chat could be at risk.
- Your messages can be forwarded which will make them available forever in the forwarded chat.
- Your messages can be saved by taking a screenshot of, and stored in the local storage even if they are set to expire after 7 days.
- The message content can still be copied and pasted in any text app.
- The messages can be easily captured using either screen capturing tools or another device that has a camera.
What happens to my previous messages/chat when I turn on disappearing messages?
Your previous messages and chats will remain untouched when you turn on disappearing messages. The messages you send after enabling this feature will obey the disappearing rule and expire after 7 days from their sent date.
Will users on older versions be able to receive disappearing messages?
Whatsapp has currently disclosed no information regarding backward compatibility for disappearing messages. But considering previous feature rollouts by Whatsapp, it seems highly unlikely that this feature will be available to users with an outdated version of the app.
When Whatsapp first introduced the ability to voice and video call your contacts it was not backward compatible hence it is highly likely that disappearing messages will also not be backward compatible with older versions of Whatsapp.
Are disappearing messages available for Whatsapp Groups?
Yes, disappearing messages are available for Whatsapp Groups as well. However, this feature can only be turned on by Group admins on Whatsapp. Once turned on all messages and media sent by all users in the group will expire after 7 days.
However as discussed earlier, if the message is forwarded, stored, quoted, or backed up, it might still be available to certain users.
Are photos and videos deleted too with disappearing messages?
Just like disappearing messages, media will also disappear after a period of 7 days if disappearing messages are turned on for a particular chat or group. However, Whatsapp has an additional auto-download feature that automatically downloads sent media to your local storage.
If this feature is turned on, then the sent media could still be available in the receiver’s local storage. Hence it is recommended that you use this feature only with your trusted contacts.
How to save disappearing messages
Well, you can simply take a screenshot of a disappearing message sent to you before the period of 7 days lapses. That’s a neat and simple trick. WhatsApp hasn’t blocked screenshotting — at least yet — because other apps like Snapchat do block screenshot-taking for time-sensitive content.
If you one more trick up your sleeve, Other than screenshots, you can also screen record it.