How to Use the Signal App

Get the most out of this encrypted messaging app

What To Know

  • Tap the pencil icon > choose contact > type the message, then tap the send icon or Return.
  • Signal doesn't store any information about your messages.
  • You can blur photos or have messages vanish after a set time.

This article teaches you how to use the Signal app, including how to send encrypted messages, the importance of disappearing messages, and how to manage notifications. The instructions apply to iOS and Android; screenshots are taken from the iOS app.

How to Send Messages on Signal

The Signal app is best known for being an encrypted messaging app, but just because your messages are encrypted doesn't mean that it's tricky to send messages. Thanks to Signal encryption, the process is much the same as using other messaging apps.

Sending a message in Signal is like using WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

  1. Open Signal.

  2. Tap the pencil icon on the top right corner.

  3. Tap the name of the contact you wish to message.

    Alternatively, you can search for them by tapping Find by Phone Number or invite them to the service via Invite Friends to Signal.

  4. Type the message you want to send.

  5. Tap the send icon or tap Return.

    Steps required to send a message in Signal
  6. You've now started a chat thread with your chosen contact.

How to Send Disappearing Messages on Signal

Signal is one of many so-called secret texting apps, which means you can set it up so that messages disappear after a certain amount of time. It's a useful method if you want to keep your message history tidy or if you'd rather not have an extensive search history. Here's how to set it up.


It's still possible to take screenshots or photos of the message, so don't consider this method to be particularly secure. 

  1. Open a chat with the chosen contact.

  2. Tap the contact name at the top of the screen.

  3. Tap Disappearing Messages to toggle it on.

  4. Use the slider underneath to set your message timer.

    It's possible to set messages to expire anywhere between 5 seconds and 1 week after the recipient has read the message.

  5. Tap the back arrow.

  6. Check the timer icon and time length is next to the contact's name to confirm disappearing messages have been activated.

    Steps required to set disappearing messages up in Signal and how to confirm it's been activated

    The other person will also receive a notification that you've done this.

How to Make a Call on Signal

Calling someone on Signal is as simple to do as on other messaging apps. Here's what to do.

  1. Open a chat with the contact you wish to call.

  2. Tap the call icon.

    Tap the camera icon next to it to make a video call.

  3. Wait for them to connect then start talking to them. 

How to Blur Photos on Signal

Because Signal is a more private texting app than other messaging services, it offers additional tools like the ability to partially blur photos that you send through the app. Here's how to blur a photo before sending it to a contact.


Signal can automatically blur out faces but you need to manually blur out other shapes.

  1. Open a chat with your chosen contact.

  2. Tap the plus icon to send a photo.

  3. Tap the photo icon.

  4. Find the photo you wish to send then tap it.

    Steps required to add a photo to a message in Signal
  5. Tap the forward arrow.

  6. Tap the circular icon at the top of the screen.

  7. Tap Blur Faces to automatically blur out the face in the photo.

    Steps required in Signal to automatically blur someone's face on a photo

    You can also draw over areas you wish to blur.

  8. Tap the tick to attach the photo then type a message to send alongside it.

  9. Tap the arrow to send the message.

    Steps required in Signal to attach a photo that has been blurred

How to Manage Notifications on Signal

Apps work best when you have notifications set up how you like them. Here's a look at how to manage the most commonly required notifications on Signal.

  1. Open Signal and tap your profile picture.

  2. Tap Notifications.

  3. Choose to change the message sounds or details of what's displayed on the notification.


    It's a smart move to toggle Contact Joined Signal, so you're notified any time a friend signs up to the app.

  4. For maximum privacy, tap Show Name, Content, and Actions > No Name or Content to limit what's displayed on your lock screen when you receive a message.

    Signal Notification settings with Name, Content and Actions highlighted

How Secure Is Signal?

The Signal app is a more secure way of messaging than other apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Here's a brief look at how well encrypted it is.

  • All communication is encrypted end-to-end. End-to-end encryption means information such as your message or any files you send is only accessible by the sender and the recipient. Signal has no way of accessing the information even if required to by a government.
  • No metadata is collected. Signal doesn't record any metadata about your contacts or messages, ensuring that it has no insight into what you're discussing.
  • It's possible to 'verify' your contacts. Before you talk to a contact through Signal, you can verify it's them to confirm that it's definitely the person you think it is. 
  • You can only use Signal on one mobile device. While this policy might feel limiting, it means that it's far more secure.
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