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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

20 Best And Hidden Signal App Features That You Should Use In 2021

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In the aftermath of the privacy havoc created by WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy, a massive surge in users has been witnessed by privacy-focused messaging apps like Signal. But since many of us are new to the platform, I thought amassing the best and hidden Signal app features will be helpful.

In this list, I have jotted down all sorts of features, both popular and lesser-known to form a complete guide on how to use Signal app by making the best use of its features. So let’s get started!

20 Best And Hidden Signal App Features In 2021

Note: The features mentioned below have been tested on Android for this article. Hence some of the options may appear differently on iOS.

1. Built-in Screen Lock

I know that the Screen Lock feature on Signal isn’t exactly a hidden one, but it’s definitely one of the best Signal features. Enabling Screen Lock protects your messages from unauthorized access. It also removes the need to use third-party app lockers thereby protecting your privacy even further. The best part is that this app supports Android and iOS bio-metric authentication for easy unlock.

How to activate Screen Lock on Signal?

  • Tap on your Profile Icon on the top-left corner
  • Select Privacy and toggle Screen Lock option

2. Set PIN

Upon joining Signal, you must have added a 4-digit PIN but do not confuse it for the Screen Lock feature mentioned above. Signal PIN is an extra layer of security for implementing 2-factor authentication. It is mandatory to set up a Signal PIN, which will be required when reinstalling the messaging app, backup & restore, and identity verification.

How to change Signal PIN or customize 2FA options?

  • Tap on the Profile Icon on the top-left corner and open Privacy
  • Scroll down to the bottom and enable Registration Lock. Now, whenever you will reinstall Signal, you will be asked the PIN before you can set up your account. Also, you can change your PIN or create an alphanumeric code from the option below. Not to mention, Signal will occasionally remind you to enter the PIN so you don’t forget it.

3. Use a private number to hide your phone number

The Signal app really goes out of the way to protect your privacy. However, it baffles me that Signal does not offer a way to hide your phone number, unlike Session messenger or others. Still, there is a workaround, which is probably one of the best-hidden Signal app tricks.

How to hide your phone number on Signal app?

Signal app needs a phone number to work so instead of offering your actual number, you can get a private number from a service such as Google Voice or Skype and use it to activate a Signal account. Now, this part is easy for Android users because you can easily set up a second account on your phone.

However, iPhone users will have to either use another iOS or Android device to use this workaround because the secondary device in this case will be tied to the private number you bought. But this secondary device does not need an active cellular connection or SIM card — just a Wi-Fi connection will do.

Next, on the secondary device or account, install Signal > launch the app > type in the new phone number you wish to use. At this point, you will get a message prompt stating “authentication failed”. Don’t worry, just choose voice verification by tapping Call Me. Make sure that you are connected to a Wi-Fi network and the number you just entered will ring. Receive the call to get the six-digit verification number. Now, type that number into the verification box in the Signal app and then select Verify. And that’s it! Your private Signal account is ready to use.

4. Relay Calls

You can make voice and video calls on Signal, but these are traceable via IP address. But you can avoid being traced by making Relay Calls, which is one of the best and hidden Signal app features for establishing private communication.

What is a Relay Call on Signal?

A Relay Call on Signal sends all your calls through the Signal server so that your IP address is not revealed to your contacts. The recipient will only be able to see Signal’s IP address, which hides your actual identity.

Please note that during Relay Calls, the call quality may drop a bit due to network tunneling. But if you don’t mind trading off performance over privacy, you should opt for this feature.

How To Make Relay Calls On Signal?

To make a Relay Call on Signal, tap on your profile icon > Privacy > Communication section > enable Always relay calls, and this will make sure that the next calls you make are more private.

5. Enable Incognito Keyboard

In case you are worried that your virtual keyboard app is learning from your typing behavior and using the data to personalize its service, then you can ask Signal to use Incognito Keyboard to prevent it from doing so.

Now one thing to note here is that this Signal trick may not work with every keyboard app as some of these apps are hell-bent on tracking everything you input through it. But I tested it on Gboard on Android, and it worked!

Note: This Signal feature isn’t available for iOS yet.

How to use Incognito Keyboard on Signal?

You can enable Incognito Keyboard on Signal app by tapping on your profile icon > Privacy > toggle Incognito keyboard. This will make your keyboard work in Incognito mode by default whenever you chat on Signal and ensure that none of your typing or clipboard data is recorded by the keyboard.

6. Blur faces on photos

We often share our pictures on chat messengers but if you are unsure about how those pictures could be used or shared further, you can choose to blur faces in photos before sending them on Signal. This is a built-in feature that further boosts your privacy.

How to blur faces on photos in Signal app?

To blur photos, just select your image and tap on the ‘Blur’ icon on top. Using this, you can draw anywhere to blur out faces in the picture manually.

In case you want to automatically blur all the faces in a picture, toggle the “Blur faces” option and it will automatically detect and hide the faces.

7. Block Screenshots on Signal

Among the best Signal features, there is one hidden Signal feature too that I like the most. It is the option to prevent others from taking screenshots of your chat or anything within it. The best part is that it even restricts taking a screenshot from the recent menu, or displaying the contents in the small app window in the recent menu that we get to see while switching apps.

Note: This Signal feature doesn’t block screenshot on iOS but it can block screen previews in the app switcher.

How to block screenshots on Signal messenger?

To block screenshots on Signal, tap on your profile icon and open Settings. Now move to the Privacy section and enable Screen Security, and that’s it. Now nobody can take screenshots of your chat without your consent.

8. Use Signal as a Note app

Don’t you love when an app can double as a productivity app too? Signal allows you to send notes to yourself or save important text or media files in a separate channel that can be viewed by you only. Personally, I find it to be one of the best and hidden Signal features that comes in handy quite often.

How to send ‘Note To Self’ on Signal?

You have to set up this feature one time. For that, tap on the pen icon on the bottom-right corner and type “Note” in the search contacts bar. A channel called “Note to Self” will appear. Just select it and it will open up a conversation where you can write anything for yourself. And the next time you have to use it, you can simply find it on the main screen.

setup-note-to-self-on-signal
note-to-self

9. Send a disappearing message

‘Disappearing Messages,’ also known as Self-destructing messages, is one of the best Signal features. Here you can set a timer for when the messages will self delete after they have been read by the recipient.

For instance, you can set a timer for 5 seconds. In that case, the delivered messages will disappear from the recipient’s inbox 5 seconds after they see them. Now that’s a cool Signal trick, right?

How to send Disappearing Messages on Signal app?

To send Disappearing Messages on Signal, open a conversation, then tap on the 3-dot menu and select “Disappearing Messages”. Now, set the timer, which is available from 5 seconds to 1 week — and that’s it!

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