Signal is one of the best finish-to-end encrypted messengers on the market. It offers robust security, keeps minimal data most its users, and is free to use. Switching to it as your main messenger tin be a chip daunting, so to help, we created a guide to walk yous through the process.
As Indicate continues to abound, many of its new features go lost on new users. Not only has Signal added new ways to keep your conversations individual, only they’ve also added iMessage-like features to arrive easier for people to make the switch and to enhance communications.
However, as with all messaging services, you need the recipient to too use Signal to have total advantage of its features. Afterwards you acquire how to fix everything upward and get the most out of Signal, make sure to share this guide with family and friends when you lot enquire them to switch over. That way, they tin can get everything set up to go just like you did. With any luck, all your conversations will be able to bask the security and privacy of Signal’s cease-to-end encryption.
Step 1: Install the Latest Version of Indicate
Starting time, check that you’re using the latest version of Signal Individual Messenger. The app is continuously updated, then you’ll want to brand certain you have all the new features equally they come up out. Head to the Play Store or App Shop (using the links below) and either install Betoken if y’all don’t already have it or update information technology.
- Install Bespeak Private Messenger: Android (free) | iOS (free)
Step 2: Sign Up Using Your Phone Number
How the app appears when you beginning open information technology is different depending on the operating system you are using. Skip below to the OS version you’re using on your smartphone.
On an iPhone, you’ll come across a splash screen highlighting its privacy the start time you open Bespeak. Tap “Continue,” and then “Enable Permissions” for access to your contacts and notifications, and hit “Let” for each. Yous’ll then see the sign-upwards screen. Just enter your country, make certain the land code is correct, input your phone number, and tap “Next.” While yous can utilize a burner number, we recommend using your actual phone number, as this is how your contacts will observe you on Signal.
You lot’ll be texted a code to the number you added, and then expect for that code to come in, and so enter it. You’ll then need to select a username and add a profile image if you want. Hit “Save” to keep.
You lot may be asked to create a PIN to protect your account, so do so and make certain to secure your PIN in something like LastPass or your awesome memory. If y’all already had a Pin from before, you’ll need to enter it to verify it’due south you. Then, you lot’re all set!
For Android, a popular-up will announced informing yous that you need to provide Betoken access to your contacts, storage, and phone calls for it to work. After selecting “Continue,” a series of permission prompts volition appear, which you’ll demand to accept, and after doing so, yous’ll exist taken to the signup screen.
On the screen, Signal volition ask you for your telephone number. While you can use a burner number, we recommend using your bodily phone number, as this is how your contacts volition find you on Signal. Either way, input a valid telephone number and select “Annals.”
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A verification code will be sent to this phone number as a text, and you’ll need to input this code on the next page. For Android, once you input the right lawmaking, information technology will automatically take you to a new folio.
On Android, the adjacent folio volition inquire you to input a name and add a pic, which will appear when yous conduct a conversation with other Signal users. Fill out this information, then cull “Save” to finish the setup procedure.
Footstep three: Set Bespeak every bit Your Default SMS App (Android)
When you arrive on the main page on Android, a banner will appear asking if you’d similar to “Apply as default SMS app.” Select the banner and a popup will appear asking yous to make Signal the default app for SMS messages (regular texts to your telephone number). With this change, you can manage both Signal letters besides regular text messages all inside one app. Choose “Yes” on the popup to approve this change.
Step four: Invite Your Friends & Remove the Invite Banner
On iOS, Betoken tin’t exist used to manage SMS. Instead, the only communication possible is between other Signal users. Therefore, to make the about of the app, yous will need to invite your friends.
On Android, in the upper right corner, choose the three vertical dots, and and so in the sub-carte, select “Invite friends.” On the next page, select “Choose Contacts” and select from saved contacts who you lot want to switch to Signal. In one case selected, choose “Send SMS to Ten Friends” (X representing the number of contacts y’all selected).
Another style to invite friends is to offset a conversation with them over traditional SMS (Android just). Appearing below their name is a blue banner asking you to “Invite to Signal” for conversations betwixt contacts who aren’t Betoken users. Selecting this imprint will create a text message to send, which will include a link to install the app on their telephone.
This banner tin can get pretty annoying after a while, especially for saved contacts you know won’t make the switch. Fortunately, you tin remove it. Select the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner of the main page and choose “Settings.” Choose “Chats and media” and disable the toggle next to “Testify invitation prompts.” This toggle will remove the blue banner from non-Betoken users. This feature is exclusive to Android, every bit the iOS version is unable to communicate with not-Signal users.
Step v: Prepare Automatic Backups (Android)
Point doesn’t use either iOS’due south iCloud or Android’s Google Bulldoze service considering of privacy concerns. Therefore, when you switch phones, your existing chats won’t automatically transfer over.
On Android, there is a solution. By creating a locally stored encrypted fill-in, your messages remain prophylactic and can be restored when you switch phones. This characteristic will as well turn on automated backup. While yous tin can’t command how often they occur or even where they are located, it does it ofttimes enough that if you forget to create a backup, using the automatic backup files should give you a recent enough copy of your messages. For a tutorial on how to attain this, check out the link beneath.
- Don’t Miss: How to Back up & Restore Your Signal Messages
Stride 6: Improve Your Security
While Betoken on its own is a highly secure stop-to-cease encrypted messaging service, you can ameliorate the security by taking advantage of some of its options. On Android, select the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner and choose “Settings.” On iOS, select your picture or first letter of your user name. On the adjacent page, choose “Privacy.”
Countersign Protect the App (Or Use Biometrics)
menu, you’ll find a few options to improve your security. The first is “Screen lock,” which requires you lot to authenticate yourself to access the app either using the fingerprint/face scanner or your lock screen code. Choose the toggle next to “Screen lock” to activate this feature.
Y’all can adapt the fourth dimension before the app gets locked and requires authentication using “Screen lock inactivity timeout.” For those looking to maximize security, the lowest time on Android is 1 minute. When set, after you leave the Signal app for one minute, information technology will exist locked and require hallmark to run across your messages. iOS users can set this to instant so that it locks as before long as yous leave the app.
Another security feature is “Screen security.” This characteristic blocks previewing the app in your recent apps list (multitasking screen). On Android, it likewise prevents you from taking whatsoever screenshots in Point. It doesn’t forbid those you lot communicate with from taking a screenshot, only it could protect y’all against a malware app which somehow finds a manner to hack your device and take screenshots without yous knowing.
Hide What Yous Blazon (Android)
Because Android users can have advantage of 3rd-party keyboards, Signal includes another privacy feature, “Incognito keyboard.” This feature protects Gboard (or other keyboard apps that utilize the proper APIs) from learning how you text. Since keyboard apps must capture each word you input by nature, this protects your conversation from beingness read by a malicious app. Do annotation that this will disable vocalisation typing.
Point non only lets you send messages simply lets you brand voice and video calls as well, providing the same level of protection as text-based messages. However, phonation calls can reveal your IP address to the caller on the other end. While we assume you trust people in your contacts, even a friend tin can take advantage of this information to perform an attack. Nonetheless, when you enable the “Ever relay calls” toggle in Signal’s
carte du jour, all calls showtime get through Signal’s servers, protecting your real IP address in the instance of a leak.
Turn Off Suggested Deportment and Replies (Android 10 or Newer)
I of the new features in Android ten is the expansion of Smart Replies and Suggested Actions. This feature uses motorcar learning to create an appropriate response to notifications from messaging apps.
Information technology doesn’t suspension Betoken’southward finish-to-end encryption since information technology works
your phone decrypts incoming messages. It simply uses an Android API to read notifications displayed by the OS. Messages are only analyzed locally using machine learning built within Android ten and this data does not leave your smartphone. Yet, if this feature however scares you, you can turn it off.
Open your Settings app and select “Apps & notifications.” Choose “Notifications,” select “Advanced,” then disable the toggle adjacent to “Suggested deportment and replies.”
Add a Pin to Registration
Finally, enable “Registration Lock” (known equally Registration Lock Pin on Android). This feature adds a PIN to your account to forestall someone who knows your phone number from registering on Bespeak. In one case enabled, you create a PIN code of 4 to xx digits which you must input at the time of registering Signal to a new phone.
Additionally, Signal will periodically ask you to input your PIN to help yous memorize your PIN code. Initially, the reminders occur every vi hours, simply will become less frequent equally yous consistently enter your Pin code correctly. Nevertheless, if you lot input the code incorrectly, the reminders will come up more than frequently.
Footstep vii: Hide Notifications
For those wanting true privacy, you’ll demand to hibernate your Signal notifications. Whatever incoming alarm will appear on the lock screen, fully visible to anyone even without unlocking your phone. While this is convenient, information technology does open upwards us to a privacy concern. The safer method is to hide these messages and so that they don’t appear on the lock screen. There are two methods to accomplish this. We’ll get-go with the easier one.
Hiding Notifications in Indicate’s Settings
Select either the three verticals dots in the upper-right corner (Android) and choose “Settings,” or tap your picture show or the first letter of your user name in the upper-left corner (iOS). Cull “Notifications” and select “Show.”
At that place are three options you lot can choose from: “Name and message,” “Proper name simply,” and “No name or message.” On iOS, it is listed as “Content” instead of “bulletin” but it operates the same. To protect the content of the bulletin, select “Proper name only.” Once selected, new messages will show the name of the person and inform you that you lot take a new message, merely the content will not exist readable from anywhere outside the app.
Hiding Notifications in Your OS Settings
Alternatively, you can hide Signal’s notifications through your telephone’s principal settings. On iOS, select Settings from your home screen, choose “Notifications,” then select “Signal.” Here, you will observe multiple options to configure notifications such as where it appears, if information technology makes a audio, and if it creates an app badge.
At a minimum, we recommend opening “Prove Previews” and either keeping “When Unlocked (Default)” or switching to “Never.” The erstwhile will simply reveal the contents of the bulletin when you lot unlock the phone, while the latter will keep the content locked until yous open the Signal app. The biggest reward of “Never” is that you better protect yourself from shoulder surfing (individuals reading your screen behind you).
On Android, the process is different depending on the OEM skin and the version of the Android you are running. Still, we volition explicate for stock Android running Android 9.0 Pie, equally this is the latest version and the base of operations of all skins.
Open Settings from your app drawer and choose “Apps & notifications.” Choose “See all 10 apps” and select Indicate from the list. Cull “Notifications” and select “Default” nether the
grouping. Select “Avant-garde” and choose “On lock screen.”
A popup will appear with 3 options. Choose either “Hibernate sensitive content” or “Don’t bear witness notifications at all.” The former hides the content of the bulletin on the lock screen and will but reveal them after unlocking the Signal app. The latter will non prove the notification at all, so the just way you’ll know that you have a new message will be past opening Signal (or receiving an app badge if this is enabled in your launcher’s settings).
Footstep viii: Improve Your Messages
Signal has recently added many features to bridge the gap between itself and iMessage or RCS messaging. These features include read receipts, typing indicators, and “Send Link Previews,” which shows a preview of any website you lot link to in a chat. You volition find each one of these options under the “Privacy” menu in Betoken’southward settings.
See When Your Bulletin Was Read
“Read Receipts” lets you lot get a visual confirmation that the recipient read your message. If both you and the recipient have this feature enabled, whenever y’all send a message, a circle will appear with a bank check mark side by side to when it was sent. When delivered, two circles will appear. Once read, the circles will turn gray.
Know When They Are Typing
“Typing Indicator” lets you lot see when the recipient is typing a message. A series of dots will appear to indicate they are currently typing a message, letting you know they are active.
To send a sticker, tap the icon that looks like a piece of paper with a corner folded. Now, just choose the sticker you would similar to send. On some Android devices, you lot won’t run across this icon at first. Instead, you must first select the emoji icon on your keyboard, then cull the sticker icon to come across the available stickers.
If yous receive a sticker from a pack you didn’t take, you can select the sticker, then choose “Install” to add the pack to your drove. Stickers can besides be created using the sticker creator plant in the desktop app for Indicate.
Signal recently added reactions, a characteristic iMessage users should be familiar with. With reactions, you lot tin long-press any message you receive and choose an emoji that reacts to the message. There are currently seven options to choose from. You can also add multiple reactions to the same message.
See Thumbnails for Links
Finally, there is “Ship Link Previews.” When enabled, links from Imgur, Instagram, Reddit, and YouTube tin can exist previewed within the Signal message giving yous an thought of what the content of the link is.
Step nine: Learn How to Send Disappearing Messages
A staple of secure messaging apps is the ability to send disappearing messages. These are letters sent with an expiration date that you assign before sending. In one case set, the bulletin will be deleted upon reaching the determined time length.
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When a disappearing message is sent, information technology converts all hereafter messages in that conversation to disappearing messages. However, after receiving a disappearing message, a prompt will appear letting you change the time length. This doesn’t change the initial messages — rather, time to come messages. You can besides end these expiring messages birthday.
Footstep 10: Verify Your Contacts
With it being common for users to switch phones, it’s possible for a hacker to exploit this. By learning either your phone number or the numbers of people you communicate with, they tin register their device and continue the conversation. With safety numbers, Signal protects against this by allowing you to verify that the person you lot are talking with is, in fact, the person y’all believe it to be.
By either scanning their QR code or comparing their safe number, y’all tin can verify a contact. Once verified, whatsoever changes made must manually exist approved past the other political party earlier a new bulletin is sent. This way, your chat stops, preventing a hacker from operating as you.
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Step 11: Block Users every bit Needed
Unfortunately, relationships sometimes end poorly and we decide it’southward best we no longer speak to that person. That doesn’t mean the other person agrees, requiring us to take steps to prevent further advice. Blocking a user volition preclude y’all from receiving any new messages from them (and y’all from sending any new messages to them).
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Unblocking them doesn’t allow you receive the messages sent when they were blocked. Instead, it lets new messages come up in and allows y’all to transport messages to them again.
Pace 12: Connect with Your Calculator
As with any internet-based messaging service, you can send messages even when not using your telephone. Past linking your computer to your business relationship, you tin can utilise the desktop app for Windows, macOS, or Linux to communicate with other Signal users.
Because Bespeak lacks any form of cloud sync, you won’t see any previous letters sent from your telephone. So when you first link your desktop to your account, don’t exist surprised at the blank page when selecting each contact. Yet, the computer will keep a record of the conversation after it has sent its starting time message, whether sent from your phone or calculator.
To attempt information technology, install the desktop app linked below, then open Signal on your phone and tap your avatar or the first letter of the alphabet of your proper noun if y’all’re on iOS. If you’re on Android, tap the three vertical dots in the summit-right corner and cull “Settings.” Tap “Linked devices,” then striking the plus sign (Android) or “Link New Device” (iOS) and browse the QR code the desktop app is showing.
- Install Betoken Individual Messenger: macOS (free) | Windows (free)
And with that, you lot’re all gear up to enjoy Point. There are a few other options to play with, simply you have the basics down pat. If y’all liked this guide, exist sure to share it with friends when yous invite them to Signal!
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