What a long way since the beginnings of SMS: 160 characters per message and not a sticker in sight. Today’s chat apps are packed with features and functionality, including read receipts, so you know when your sent messages have been seen – and your contacts know when you’ve seen their messages, too. If you’d rather not be so transparent, here’s how to disable those nasty little tattletales.
Disabling read receipts sometimes comes with a trade-off, which is that you also can’t see when other people have viewed your messages. You might be perfectly happy with this trade-off, but it’s a trade-off you may have to accept in exchange for people guessing whether or not you’ve seen their posts. There are a few workarounds, which we’ll come to at the end, but they’re not foolproof.
To disable read receipts in iMessage as a whole, open Settings on your iPhone and choose posts so Send read receipts. You can also turn read receipts on or off for individual conversations: open a chat, then tap contact info at the top of the screen, then choose Send read receipts (it will be set to the system default setting).
If you prefer not to have delivery reports used in your WhatsApp conversations, there is a global setting which you can find by tapping Settings (it’s behind the three dots on Android), then Account, Privacyand Read receipts. Note that read receipts are always enabled in group chats on WhatsApp, so there’s no way to get away from it.
You can find the option to turn off read receipts in Signal by tapping on your profile picture in the top left corner, then Settings (only if you are on iOS), then Privacy and Read receipts. The setting applies to all of your conversations. There is a separate Keystroke Indicators option available in Signal, just below Read receiptswhich you can also enable or disable as needed.
There is actually no way to disable read receipts on Telegram. All you can do is hide your online/offline status from specific people or everyone: first tap the menu button (top left), then Settings on Android, or simply Settings on the main screen on iOS. Then you have to choose Privacy and Security and Last seen and onlineand choose from the list.
Another app that doesn’t allow you to turn off read receipts is Instagram. What you can do, however, is hide your overall activity status – so no one else knows when you were last active in the app. Tap your account icon (bottom right), then the menu button (top right), then Settings, Privacyand Activity status to enable or disable the corresponding toggle switch.
If you’d rather not have your direct messages on Twitter show a read receipt, open the app and tap your profile picture (top left), then Settings and Privacy. Choose Privacy and Securityso Direct Messages, and you’ll find the Show read receipts toggle switch. Note that read receipts aren’t displayed on requests (incoming messages from people you don’t follow).
Google Chat is in our list here just so we can say that it’s currently not possible to turn off read receipts in the app, so don’t worry about wasting time looking for the setting. You can set your status to away (tap the menu button in the top left corner of the app to do this), but that’s all it takes to hide your app activity from others.
That’s a different story in the RCS-enabled Google Messages app for Android, the one that’s the default messenger on Pixel phones. Tap the three dots in the upper right corner, then choose Settings and Chat Features: You can turn the Send read receipts turn the switch on or off from here, and there’s another toggle switch for Show typing indicators also.
Like several other apps we’ve listed here, you just have to live with read receipts in Facebook Messenger, as there’s no way to turn them off. What you can do to protect your privacy to some degree is hide your current status in the app: tap your account avatar (top left), then choose Active status to find the Show when active rocker switch.
There are a few tricks you should know for reading messages without anyone knowing you read them. The first is to read them via the notification preview, then dismiss the alert, without opening the app at all — although this is less effective for longer messages, as you won’t be able to see the full text .
To change the amount of text displayed in a chat notification on Android, open Settings, then choose Notifications: you can ensure that as many of your messages are displayed as possible by turning on Lock screen notifications and Sensitive Notifications.
On iOS, open Settings, then select Noticethen make sure Show Previews is set to Still. Of Notice screen, you can also choose individual chat apps and configure them to always show incoming chat alerts as full screen banners.
The second tip is to put your phone in airplane mode before opening your chat app and reading the message – without a connection to the outside world, the read receipt cannot be sent. This workaround depends on the incoming message being cached locally (some apps do, some don’t), and it also means you won’t be able to do much with your phone until it comes out. not airplane mode… at which point the read receipt will be sent.
These workarounds aren’t necessarily ideal, but they can save you a bit of time between reading a message and responding to it, especially if you’re using a chat app that doesn’t include built-in feature to disable read receipts. .