Over a year ago, WhatsApp introduced its Disappearing Messages feature to all its global users. While the tool is interesting, it is also fairly basic. That is now changing as WhatsApp is making some changes to Disappearing Messages that will make them more functional.

Specifically, the app will give users the ability to turn on the feature by default across all chats. Until now, it was only possible to set default on single chats. You can now also choose how long the messages stick around for, the current 7 day option, 24 hours, or 90 days.

WhatsApp originally said disappearing or self-destructing messages will only come to group chats. Later, the company changed its mind and confirmed it will also come to individual users. That happened when the tool arrived last November.


Users have complete control over the feature and can choose to disable it. Options include setting the self-destruct to 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, and 1 year. This chosen length of time will determine how long WhatsApp keeps a message in a conversation.

How it Works

When the time limit is chosen, the app displays a clock icon next to the sent time on a message. WhatsApp will also deliver a notification when the message is deleted. With the new update, changes to Disappearing Messages will roll out to Android and iOS.

WhatsApp explains how the feature works in a blog post:

  • “If a user doesn’t open WhatsApp in the 24-hour, seven-day, or 90-day period, the message will disappear from the chat. However, the preview of the message might still be displayed in notifications until WhatsApp is opened.
  • When you reply to a message, the initial message is quoted. If you reply to a disappearing message, the quoted text might remain in the chat after the duration you select.
  • If a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages off, the message won’t disappear in the forwarded chat.

If a user creates a backup before a message disappears, the disappearing message will be included in the backup. Disappearing messages will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.”

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