WhatsApp has introduced a new Disappearing Messages feature which deletes any messages you’ve shared with specific people or groups after a seven-day period. Your older conversations remain untouched, but once you enable the feature it will apply to any sent from that point. Here’s how to set up and use Disappearing Messages on WhatsApp.

How does WhatsApp's Disappearing Messages work?

Once you've set up the feature and chosen the people to whom it will apply, any messages you exchange with that person or group will be automatically deleted by WhatsApp after seven days. There are a few exceptions to consider though. 

If you forward the message to another chat, one that doesn't have Disappearing Messages enabled, then it will remain in that feed after it disappears from the original chat. 

Should you reply to a message, then the preview of it contained in the reply may stay visible after the message is deleted. 

Finally, remember that people who have received your message can take screenshots, save the message or forward to others, all of which will endure once the original message disappears. 

Note that WhatsApp is also prepping the ability to send disappearing photos and video via its messaging platform with View Once.

How to enable Disappearing Messages on WhatsApp

As this feature could be quite disastrous as a general setting, WhatsApp only applies it to users that you select individually. It can also be used on Groups, but only by the administrator.

To enable Disappearing Messages on Android and iOS, open WhatsApp and tap on a conversation where you want to use the feature.

How to use disappearing messages on whatsapp: Select conversation

At the top of the page, tap on the contact’s name.

How to use disappearing messages on Whatsapp: Choose contact

Next, look for the Disappearing messages option halfway down the page, usually under the Mute notification and Custom notification settings.

How to use disappearing messages on WhatsApp: Selecting disappearing messages

Tap Disappearing messages, then on the next page select the On option.

How to use disappearing messages on WhatsApp: Turning the feature on

Now, when you go back to the contact's conversation you'll see a message stating that you've turned on the Disappearing Messages feature and that any new messages sent in that chat from now on will be automatically deleted after seven days. 

How to use disappearing messages on WhatsApp: Notification

How to disable Disappearing Messages in WhatsApp

Should you decide that you'd rather keep all of your communique, it's very easy to turn off the Disappearing Messages feature. Simply follow the steps outlined above, but this time select the Off option instead. 

If you want to protect all of your messages, to ensure you don't lose any at all, then also take a look at our guide on how to back up and restore WhatsApp

You may also be interested in another recent update which improved WhatsApp's storage management functionality