Signal: how to use disappearing messages

The messaging app Signal offers a feature that WhatsApp does not have: what are disappearing messages and how to use them


Veronica Nicosia Scientific Journalist

Graduated in astrophysics, scientific journalist and SEO content editor, she writes about technology for online and print magazines. In 2020 she joined Libero Tecnologia

After the announcement of the change in WhatsApp privacy policy, more and more users are choosing Signal as their messaging app. Among the interesting features that this app offers there is also one called Pop-up Messages: the ability to send messages with a self-destruct timer.

This is an effective feature to exchange news with your contacts and try to preserve your privacy. Just like Telegram's self-destructing messages, Signal's pop-up messages allow you to insert a timer that starts right after the recipient reads the text. At the end of the countdown, the message is deleted and no trace of it remains in the chat. Users can thus decide to activate the self-destruct in a range of time from 5 seconds up to 1 week, and they can change it to their liking by deleting the message before the time or disabling the function so that they are not deleted. Here's how to use the feature on Android, iOS devices and in the Desktop version of Signal's app.

How to use Signal's Pop-up Messages on Android

The procedure to activate Pop-up Messages changes depending on the device you're using. If you've downloaded the Signal app for Android, you'll have to open the chat with your contact, tap on the three dots in the upper right corner and in the pop-up window that opens, select the item Pop-up Messages.

The user can then set a timer ranging from 5 seconds to a week and then tap OK. A timer icon will then appear in the header of the chat and a notice will appear in the screen telling the two contacts that the feature is active and how much time they have before the message self-destructs.

If you want to vary the time set for the disappearing timer, simply open the Settings, go to Disappearing Messages and in the list of available intervals choose another time. By tapping OK, the conversation alert will change announcing the new disappearing time set for messages to your contacts. Alternatively, you can select Off to disable the feature in the chat.

How to use Signal's Pop-up Messages on iOS

The procedure to set up Signal's Pop-up Messages on iOS devices is similar to that for Android. After opening the app and the Chat Settings screen, you need to tap on Pop-up Messages and activate the feature by sliding the button to the right until it turns blue. A slider allows you to set the timer from 5 seconds to 1 week and to confirm, you will just need to tap on the Back symbol in the top left corner to return to the conversation. A timer icon will be displayed in the chat, indicating how long the message will disappear. The user can then change the disappearing time or disable it by following the same path described above, but choosing a different time interval or the Off item.

How to use Pop-up Messages on Signal Desktop

When you enable the Pop-up Messages feature in the Android or iOS app, it will remain active even when using the Desktop version of Signal. At any time, the user can set the disappearance timer from PC by going to Conversation Settings > Pop-up Messages, choosing the desired interval. Again, the timer icon will be displayed in the chat and the message self-destruct time after reading will be shown, which can be changed or disabled by going back to the settings of the desktop version of the messaging app.