signal for desktop

Signal is a popular app for those looking for a privacy-focused alternative to WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger. It has many of the features you’d expect from a messaging service, including a desktop app. We’ll show you how it works.

One of the biggest selling points of Signal is the automatic end-to-end encryption of messages. If that’s something you’re interested in, you probably want it everywhere, not just on your phone. Signal offers the same privacy features in its desktop app.

RELATED: What Is Signal, and Why Is Everyone Using It?

In order to use Signal on the desktop, you must have the Signal app installed on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Signal for Desktop is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

After installing Signal for Desktop on your computer, open up the app. The first thing you’ll see is a QR code. This is how the desktop app connects to the mobile app.

qr code from desktop app

Open the Signal app on your phone or tablet. Next, on Android, tap on the three-dot menu icon in the top-right corner, then go to Settings > Linked Devices and select the “+” button. On iPhone and iPad, tap on your profile picture in the top-left corner to open the “Settings” menu, then select Linked Devices > Link New Device.

linked devices
Linked Devices on Android

You’ll need to give Signal permission to use your camera to scan the QR code.

camera permission on android
Camera permission on Android

Line up the camera with the QR code shown on the desktop app.

scan the QR code

The phone app will ask if you’re sure you want to link to the desktop app. Tap “Link Device” to proceed.

tap Link Device

We can now go back to the desktop app, which will ask you to choose a name for your computer. Enter a name and click “Finish Linking Phone.”

enter name and finish linking phone

The desktop app will sync contacts and groups from your phone. This can take a few minutes.

syncing contacts and groups

Once that’s finished, you’ll see your conversations in the sidebar. Note that the conversations will not have any messages synced. This is a security feature. From this point forward, you will see any new messages that you send from your desktop or phone.

contacts in sidebar

The desktop interface is very similar to the mobile app. You can make video calls and voice calls, send audio messages, attach photos and videos, and use stickers.

desktop UI

Sticker packs that you download on your phone will be automatically available on your computer.

sticker packs
Sticker packs on Desktop (left) and Mobile (right)

That’s it! You can now use Signal from your phone and computer simultaneously. Keep in mind that if you use Signal as your default SMS app on Android, the SMS conversations will not appear on the desktop app.

RELATED: How to Make Signal Your Default SMS Messaging App on Android

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
Read Full Bio »