The disappearing messages feature is a convenient way to send messages without leaving a trace or history. If you’re wondering how to get started with disappearing messages, here’s everything you need to know to enable and use the feature on popular messaging platforms, namely Telegram, Signal, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Send disappearing messages

1. Send disappearing messages on Telegram

If you’ve read our WhatsApp vs Telegram vs Signal comparison, you’re probably aware that Telegram’s secret chat feature is end-to-end encrypted. You should create a secret chat to send disappearing messages and the media on Telegram. To start, open contact profile page and tap on “Start a secret conversation”.

In the secret chat interface, tap the vertical three-dot menu next to the contact to access more options. In the list of options that now appear, tap “Set self-destruct timer”. You can set the message to disappear at a time ranging from 1 second to a week. Choose the self-destruct period for your message and tap Done. You can also tap the clock symbol next to the profile picture to access the self-destruct timer.

All messages and media you send to the contact via secret chat after setting the self-destruct timer will expire after the set time. Keep in mind that this setting does not affect the nature of normal Telegram chats with the same person.

If you are looking for ways to send self-destructing images or videos, you can do so without creating a secret chat. All you gotta do is choose image/video from the file picker interface and tap the timer icon. Tap Done once you have set the expiration timer. The preview of the file is blurry (check the image above) and the the timer starts as soon as the recipient opens the image.

2. Send Disappearing Messages on Signal

If you are someone who recently switched from WhatsApp to Signal, you will be happy to know that Signal’s vanishing messages implementation is much better than WhatsApp. To use the feature, open a chat, tap the three-dot vertical menu in the right corner and choose “Disappearing Messages”. You can now set the duration from 5 seconds to 1 week.

The clock symbol next to a message indicates that it is sent via Disappearing Messages mode. You can always check the expiration time of the message in the indicator next to the profile picture.

3. Send Disappearing Messages on Instagram

Coming to Instagram, Facebook recently introduced vanishing mode as part of its Instagram Direct-Facebook Messenger integration. Consequently, you can swipe up from any Instagram DM to start a private chat window where messages disappear when you close the chat. Likewise, you can swipe up again to exit vanishing mode.

If you’re looking for an option to send Snapchat-style self-destructing media, you don’t need to enable vanish mode. Instead of, press the camera button in the lower left corner, choose the image/video, and switch to the “Show once” tab. Once you are here, press “Send” to send the image.

4. Send Disappearing Messages on WhatsApp

After all mainstream messaging platforms, WhatsApp added disappearing messages in November last year. However, you cannot customize the duration of the self-destruct timer here. All messages sent via vanishing messages mode on WhatsApp disappear after 7 days, which isn’t ideal if you ask me. You can read more about why WhatsApp disappearing messages shouldn’t be your first choice for sending sensitive images here, but here’s the method if you’re thinking of trying out the feature.

Open WhatsApp and go to the contact’s profile page. You can do this by tapping the contact’s name in the chat window. From here, look for the option called “Disappearing Messages” and tap on it. You can now choose to enable the feature by tapping the “On” toggle.

Use Disappearing Messages mode when sending sensitive images

So that was our guide on how you can use disappearing messages on popular messaging platforms. If you are looking for other ways to use these platforms like a pro, you will find many useful features in our articles on Instagram tips, WhatsApp tips, Signal tips and Telegram tips. You should also consider checking out our guide to removing metadata from photos for better privacy.