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7 ways to hide messages on an iPhone

Learn how to keep your texts private with these simple tricks. From locking apps to hiding alerts, we’ve got you covered.
By
December 11, 2023

If you want to keep messages on your iPhone private, you might be interested in learning some ways to hide them from prying eyes. Whether you want to hide message previews and notifications, delete old messages, or lock your messaging apps with Face ID, there are some easy and effective methods to do so.

This article will show you ways to hide messages on an iPhone through the various features and settings available in iOS or the messaging apps themselves. We will also recommend third-party messaging apps that offer additional security and privacy.

QUICK ANSWER

There are a lot of ways you can hide messages on iPhone, including disabling notifications, setting up disappearing messages, locking apps behind Face ID or a passcode, and using third-party apps like Signal or Confide.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Turning off message previews and notifications

Message previews and notifications will display a snippet of every text message you receive and the sender’s name on the iPhone’s lock screen. This can compromise your privacy, as someone nearby could easily peek at your messages. Turning notifications off could prevent this from happening. Follow the steps below to disable message previews and notifications:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Notifications. Scroll till you find the messaging app you want to disable message previews and notifications for, then tap its name.
  3. To completely turn off any notifications for the app, turn the Allow Notifications toggle off.
  4. To simply disable previews on the lock screen, tap Show Previews > Never. This way, you will still get a notification whenever you receive a message, but the message and sender’s name will be hidden until you open the app.

You can also configure the settings to show message previews only when the iPhone is unlocked by tapping Show Previews > When Unlocked. This is the default option on many messaging apps.

Password-locking messaging apps

You can secure third-party messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger with Face ID so that only you can open them. Follow the steps below to find out how to lock WhatsApp with Face ID:

  1. Open Whatsapp on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Settings on the bottom right of the screen.
  3. Tap Privacy > Screen Lock, and switch the Require Face ID toggle on.

Follow the steps below to find out how to lock Facebook Messenger with Face ID:

  1. Open Facebook Messenger on your iPhone.
  2. Tap your Profile Picture on the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Privacy & safety > App lock, and switch the Require Face ID toggle on.

You can also select the delay after which the Messenger app will lock. The available options are immediate, 1 minute, 15 minutes, or an hour after leaving the app.

Some messaging apps, like Apple’s in-built Messages, don’t support app-locking natively. But there is a workaround for this, and it involves using Screen Time app limits. Follow the instructions below to find out how:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Screen Time > App Limits > Add Limit > Social. Then select all the apps you want to lock from the drop-down list.
  3. Tap Next when you are done.
  4. Select the smallest time interval (1 minute), then tap Add.

The apps you selected will require your Screen Time passcode every day after one minute of use.

Disappearing messages

Disappearing messages are texts that the app will delete after a certain period, typically 24 hours. This method can help you conceal messages on your iPhone by eliminating any trace of the conversation, as long as you and the recipient did not take screenshots. To enable this setting on WhatsApp, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Whatsapp on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the chat you want to enable disappearing messages for.
  3. Tap the user’s name on the top of the screen, then tap Disappearing Messages.
  4. Select the duration after which you want the app to delete the messages. Options include 24 Hours, 7 Days, or 90 Days.

You can also select a default message timer, which will apply this setting to all new chats going forward. Facebook Messenger also has a variation of disappearing messages called Vanish Mode (much like the one on Instagram) which will erase all texts sent when the mode is enabled after the chat is closed. Simply swipe up in the chat to enable/disable Vanish Mode.

Auto-deleting messages

The iPhone’s built-in Messages app allows you to automatically delete any messages or attachments older than 30 days or a year. Follow the steps below to find out how you can configure this setting:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Messages > Keep Messages, and then select 30 Days or 1 Year.

Invisible Ink

Invisible Ink is an iMessage effect that makes your text blurry. It will only reveal the message for a short time (around five seconds) when the recipient taps on it. It is a great way to keep text messages on your iPhone private without erasing them. Follow the steps below to learn how to use it:

  1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on an iMessage chat. Type your message, and then long-press the Send icon.
  3. Tap Invisible Ink, and then tap the Send icon again.

Silence selected chats

If you only want to disable notifications for a select few chats, there are options for that too. To find out how to silence specific chats on WhatsApp, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open Whatsapp on your iPhone.
  2. Swipe right on a chat, tap More > Mute, then select the duration for which you want to silence notifications from that user. Options include 8 hours, 1 week, and Always.

Follow the steps below to learn how to mute people on iMessage:

  1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on the chat you want to silence notifications from. Tap the username on the top of the screen, then switch the Hide Alerts toggle on, and tap Done.

From this point forward, you’ll have to launch WhatsApp or iMessage to check for any new messages from that user.

Use third-party messaging apps

Last, but not least, you can use third-party messaging apps that have been developed for the sole purpose of having private conversations. One such app is Confide, which uses features like automatically deleting read messages or hiding messages behind gray boxes to add an extra layer of security to your chats.

Another app that is highly recommended is Signal, which has a lot of the features described above collected in one package. From hiding notifications to disappearing messages, this app is the jack of all trades when it comes to privacy features.