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Four hidden WhatsApp features you probably didn’t know about

WHATSAPP is the world’s most popular messaging service for a reason, with plenty of handy features to make messaging your mates a breeze.

But some of the chat app’s tools and settings are more widely known about than others. Here are four that you probably didn’t know about.

Disappearing messages

WhatsApp lets you send disappearing messages that self-destruct after a week.

The new feature automatically deletes texts sent to contacts or groups – potentially saving you future embarrassment.

It works a bit like Snapchat messages, boosting your privacy by killing off potentially sensitive messages.

When you enable disappearing messages, they vanish after seven days – though messages sent prior to changing settings won’t be affected.

You can ask WhatsApp to automatically delete your sent messages after seven days
You can ask WhatsApp to automatically delete your sent messages after seven daysCredit: whatsapp

Here’s what to do:

  • Open the WhatsApp chat
  • Tap the contact’s name
  • Tap Disappearing Messages
  • If prompted, tap Continue
  • Select On

You can disable it using the same method.

Recipients can still screenshot your messages before they’re deleted, so the system isn’t foolproof.

Read receipts are the blue ticks that appear next to a message after a recipient has seen it
Read receipts are the blue ticks that appear next to a message after a recipient has seen it

Turn off read receipts

Read receipts are the little blue ticks that appear next to a message after a recipient has seen it.

One grey tick means your message has been sent, two grey ticks means it’s reached their device and a pair of blue ticks means it’s been read.

If you do not want to send or receive read receipts, it’s an easy process to turn them off.

First, open the WhatsApp app and select Settings, then Account and then tap Privacy.

Scroll down and tap to uncheck the box next to “Read Receipts” and you have successfully turned them off.

Be warned, if you turn off read receipts you will not be able to see read receipts from other people.

WhatsApp – a quick history

Here’s what you need to know…

  • WhatsApp was created in 2009 by computer programmers Brian Acton and Jan Koum – former employees of Yahoo
  • It’s one of the most popular messaging services in the world
  • Koum came up with the name WhatsApp because it sounded like “what’s up”
  • After a number of tweaks the app was released with a messaging component in June 2009, with 250,000 active users
  • It was originally free but switched to a paid service to avoid growing too fast. Then in 2016, it became free again for all users
  • Facebook bought WhatsApp Inc in February 2014 for $19.3billion (£14.64bn)
  • The app is particularly popular because all messages are encrypted during transit, shutting out snoopers
  • As of 2020, WhatsApp has over 2billion users globally

Hide last seen

At the top of all your WhatsApp chats, your friends and family can see when you were last on the app.

The “last seen” stamp gives the time and date you were last browsing through your messages.

If you’d rather your contacts didn’t know your messaging habits, you can turn off last seen in your settings.

Head to Account and then tap Privacy. You can then set it so your last seen is visible only to your contacts, or to nobody.

Tap and hold a message to Star it. Bookmarked messages appear with a star next to them in chat
Tap and hold a message to Star it. Bookmarked messages appear with a star next to them in chatCredit: The Sun

Bookmark useful messages

Some WhatsApp messages are more important than others.

Whether it’s the address of a party or the time and date of a big event, vital messages can go adrift amid the mass of other texts you’ve received.

Fortunately, there’s a neat trick you can use to make sure you never lose a message again.

WhatsApp has a bookmark feature that lets you flag important messages.

You can then find them easily in the Starred Messages section of the app.

To bookmark a text, hold down on the message and press the star icon at the top of your screen.

You can then access the message any time from your app’s settings.

Tapping on them even brings you back to that exact point in the chat, so you can even check why and when it was sent.

You can access your starred messages in your WhatsApp settings
You can access your starred messages in your WhatsApp settings
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