Tricks for Keeping Your Text Message Notifications Private

Do you have nosy kids, curious coworkers, or a snoopy spouse who is always checking out your phone’s screen when you leave it unattended? Sometimes, you just don’t want anyone to know who texted you, what they texted you, or when they texted you. It’s really none of anyone’s business but your own. Here are a few simple ways to maintain your privacy.

Person checking text messages on smartphone
Tim Robberts / Getty Images

The Face-Down Phone Maneuver

This is the oldest, simplest trick in the book: Simply turn your phone over so that no one can see what's popping up in your notifications. The drawback is that it's not exactly subtle; doing so typically raises suspicion among your companions about what you're trying to hide. Furthermore, you won't be able to see the notifications, which defeats the purpose.

Stealth Texting (No Sound)

If you don’t want anyone knowing that you're getting a text in the first place, you can always turn off the text notification sound and use the vibrate setting instead. In some circumstances, though, vibration might be even more noticeable than sound.

Turn off the Option

One of the best ways to keep prying eyes from seeing your texts on your lock screen is to turn off the display of the text message’s contents on the lock screen. So instead of seeing, “Hey baby, what are you wearing?” onlookers would see something like “New text message received.”

You still are made aware that you have a text, but no one casually looking at your phone will be able to see your conversation. This also keeps previews of pictures from being displayed, too.

To Hide Lock Screen Text Message Notifications on an iPhone

  1. Tap the iPhone’s Settings icon on the home screen (look for the gray gear).

  2. Tap Notification Center and scroll down to the include section of the settings page. You'll see a list of apps that offer notifications for display ​in the Notification Center (which is available from the iPhone’s lock screen).

  3. Tap the Messages app in the include section.

  4. Scroll down to Show Preview and set the slider to the OFF position.

To Hide Lock Screen Text Message Notifications on an Android

Some Android-based phones featuring the stock Android messaging app may have the Hide text message from lock screen notifications already enabled by default, or at least set to show you only the fact that you have a message, but not the message itself or its sender.

If all you see is that you have a New Message but the sender is not shown, then your messaging app may already be configured to prevent revealing the sender or the contents on the lock screen.

If you are using a different app for messaging, you may need to check if lock screen notifications can be turned off. Some apps allow this functionality, and some don’t. Check your messaging app’s settings for details to see if this function is supported. 

Other Privacy Considerations

Another important way of keeping snoopers out of your phone is to set a passcode on it—ideally, a very strong passcode or biometric-based authentication such as Apple’s Touch ID or Android's fingerprint reader. You also could employ other methods of authentication such as Android’s trusted devices, which uses your phone’s proximity to a trusted Bluetooth device as a method for unlocking your phone.

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