WhatsApp logo on white background.

Want to send Snapchat-style disappearing photos or videos in WhatsApp? The Facebook-owned messaging service allows you to do that. This feature is called “View Once.” Here’s how to use it in WhatsApp.

How Secure Are Disappearing Photos in WhatsApp?

While sending ephemeral media tends to give an illusion of privacy because the photos or videos will be deleted from the chat, that doesn’t mean that your media is truly private. For starters, there’s nothing stopping someone from taking screenshots, screen recordings, photos, or videos of the media you send using WhatsApp’s View Once feature.

WhatsApp also notes that encrypted media files could be stored on the company’s servers for a few weeks after being sent. Also, if someone reports the message to WhatsApp, the company will have access to the disappearing photo or video you sent using the messaging service.

If the photo or video has been opened, it won’t be included in WhatsApp backups and as a result, it cannot be restored either. However, unopened media files sent with “View Once” enabled will be backed up and these can be restored from backups too.

RELATED: How to Send Disappearing Messages in WhatsApp

Having said that, there are some privacy advantages to this feature. Media sent using WhatsApp’s View Once feature will not be automatically saved to the recipient’s gallery. These media files will be deleted after the recipient has viewed them, and the sender won’t be able to view the files after sending. Once you get a disappearing photo or video on WhatsApp, you can view it within 14 days of receiving it. If you’re unable to do so, these files will automatically be deleted.

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These messages can’t be forwarded, saved, shared, or starred. However, as we’ve mentioned before, anyone can take screenshots or screen recordings of these files to bypass some of these restrictions.

At the moment, there’s no way to enable the View Once feature by default. You’ll have to select it each time while sending it. Once you send media using the View Once feature, you can tell if it’s been opened by the recipient only if they have enabled read receipts on WhatsApp.

RELATED: How to Stop Your WhatsApp Friends from Knowing You've Read Their Messages

How to Send Disappearing Photos or Videos in WhatsApp

To send disappearing media files in WhatsApp, you can launch the app on Android or iPhone, and open any conversation. In WhatsApp for iPhone, tap the “+” (plus) button located to the left of the chat box.

The "+" button in WhatsApp for iPhone.

In WhatsApp chats on iPhone, select “Camera” or “Photo & Video Library” after hitting the “+” (plus) button in the WhatsApp chat. You can either click or pick the photo or video that you’d like to send.

You can click "Camera" to use WhatsApp for iPhone to click photos or videos. Alternatively, you can select "Photo & Video Library" to upload media files from the Photos app on your iPhone.

In WhatsApp for Android, you can open any chat and hit the paper clip icon inside the chat box.

With that done, select “Camera” or “Gallery” and you can either click or select a photo or video to send.

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Once you’ve selected the media file in WhatsApp, you can tap the “1” icon, also known as the View Once button. This button appears in the bottom-right corner of the caption box, to the left of the blue send button.

Once you tap the View Once button, WhatsApp will show a pop-up informing you that this is a disappearing photo or video. You can dismiss this pop-up by tapping “OK.”

A WhatsApp pop-up which tells you that you're about to send a disappearing photo or video.

With the View Once button selected, tap the “Send” button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to send disappearing photos or videos on WhatsApp. The “Send” button is on iPhone a right arrow on a blue circle background and, on Android, a right arrow with a green circle background.

The Send button in WhatsApp on iPhone.

Once the recipient opens the media file you just sent on WhatsApp, it’ll be automatically deleted from their phone. If you are wondering whether WhatsApp messages are truly private, check out our in-depth guide to end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp.

RELATED: Is WhatsApp End-to-End Encrypted, and Does That Matter for Privacy?

Pranay Parab Pranay Parab
Pranay Parab has been a technology journalist for over 10 years, during which time he's written well over 500 tutorials, and covered everything from social media apps to enterprise software. Pranay lives in Mumbai, India, and keeps traveling around the country and the world.
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