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How to send self-deleting photos and videos on WhatsApp


WhatsApp offers users end-to-end encryption. This is a good thing because what it means is that your messages are protected from being spied on, and even in the event that they are intercepted, the attacker won’t be able to read it. This is well and good if you’re worried about remote attacks, but what if someone had physical access to your phone?

That’s a different story, and assuming your device is unlocked, they will be able to read all your WhatsApp messages and browse the photos and videos that were sent. If you’d like to better protect yourself, then you might want to check out WhatsApp’s disappearing messages and its “View Once” feature which will automatically delete messages, photos, and videos after a set period of time or after they’ve been viewed.

How to enable WhatsApp’s disappearing messages

  1. Open WhatsApp
  2. Tap on the conversation you want to enable disappearing messages for
  3. Tap on the conversation’s name at the top
  4. Tap on Disappearing messages
  5. Select On
  6. Repeat the process if you’d like to turn it off

One thing to note about disappearing messages is that the messages disappear after seven days. This means that regardless of whether the message has been read or not, it will remain there for seven days. Also, take note that it might not fully disappear. According to WhatsApp, there are several instances where a message might not disappear:

  • The message might still appear in the notifications preview
  • If you reply to a disappearing message, the quoted text might remain even though the original is gone
  • If the disappearing message is forwarded to another chat
  • If the user creates a backup before the message is removed

Disappearing messages won’t apply to older messages either. This means that only messages sent after the feature has been enabled will be affected.

Now, in case the seven day window and some of the caveats of disappearing messages aren’t to your liking, WhatsApp has an alternative in the form of “View Once”. What this does is that it lets you send photos or videos that once they are opened, will be removed once it’s closed.

How to enable WhatsApp’s “View Once”

  1. Open WhatsApp
  2. Open the chat you want to send the photo or video to
  3. Tap Attach
  4. Select the photo or video
  5. Tap the “1” icon
  6. Tap Send

Similar to disappearing messages, “View Once” files will automatically disappear. If the file is opened, it will disappear after you close the media viewer. If the file is unattended to and not opened, it will automatically disappear after 14 days. Unlike disappearing messages, View Once files cannot be forwarded, saved, starred, or shared. They will also not be automatically saved into your phone’s photo library.

Tyler Lee
A graphic novelist wannabe. Amateur chef. Mechanical keyboard enthusiast. Writer of tech with over a decade of experience. Juggles between using a Mac and Windows PC, switches between iOS and Android, believes in the best of both worlds.

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