WhatsApp app logo on an iPhone
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While most of our WhatsApp conversations are with friends and families, we also often use it to talk to people we don’t know like local shops. Because we don’t need such non-personal chats forever, it’s best to send them disappearing messages for a clean inbox.

WhatsApp offers a self-destruct mode for chats. When you enable this for a particular group or private conversation, the messages are automatically wiped from your and the recipient’s phone after a week. Here’s how to access it.

First, make sure you have the latest version of WhatsApp on your phone from the Play Store on an Android device and the App Store on an iPhone.

Now, open the “WhatsApp” app on your iPhone or Android device and enter the group or private chat you want to set on self-destruct in the “Chats” tab.

Visit the chats tab on WhatsApp

Tap the recipient or group’s name at the top of the conversation to visit their profile page.

Open a contact's profile on WhatsApp

Select “Disappearing messages.”

Disappearing messages option on WhatsApp

Note: In a group, only admins have the right to edit this setting.
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Toggle the “On” option to enable disappearing messages for this chat.

Enable disappearing messages in WhatsApp chats

Now, any text or media sent in this conversation by you or the other person will be deleted after a week. At the time of writing, there’s no way of customizing the time period.

Messages exchanged before this change won’t be affected, though. You can turn the disappearing messages feature off by returning to this same option.

Disappearing messages note in WhatsApp chat

When it’s enabled, WhatsApp will notify the recipient and add a tiny clock icon over the chat’s display picture thumbnail.

Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t prevent the chat members to screenshot the conversations or back up the media elsewhere. Plus, the option to export the chat will still be available.

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Therefore, WhatsApp’s self-destruct mode is strictly only for periodically clearing your inbox of unnecessary messages, not for private and confidential conversations.


For sensitive conversations that you want to immediately wipe off from your phone, you can try privacy-focused messaging services like Signal.

Profile Photo for Shubham Agarwal Shubham Agarwal
Shubham is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. He has been covering technology for over four years for publications such as Digital Trends, HuffPost, Lifehacker, and more. When he's not writing about whatever's trending in the world of technology, you will find him either exploring a new city with his camera, binge-reading non-fiction books, and novels or playing the latest game on his PlayStation.
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