How To: Make WhatsApp more private on Android

I’m not sure if there’s anyone among my friends or colleagues who doesn’t use WhatsApp these days and there’s nothing wrong with that. I use WhatsApp as well and to be honest it’s my favorite IM app.

Like any other communication apps, there are privacy concerns for WhatsApp. Prying eyes can easily spy on your conversations, photos and learn a great deal about you if you simply use the app with its default settings. However, it’s easy to make WhatsApp more private in many areas despite the fact the app itself doesn’t offer too many privacy settings.

Lock WhatsApp

If you’re often letting other people use your phone, you can’t keep your WhatsApp chats private from them unless you lock the app. WhatsApp doesn’t include such a feature (although it should) but you can use a third-party app to lock it, so no one will be able to access it unless they know the PIN you set in place.

Chat Lock+ Messenger and Chat Lock is a great (and free) app you can use to PIN lock WhatsApp and many other chat apps for that matter. There are other alternatives available in the Play Store, but this is the one I personally use, and it has never failed me, plus it’s simple and straightforward.

Chat Lock+ Enter PIN

  • Open the app and you’ll be prompted to enter a PIN number. As with any other password or PIN number don’t use obvious combinations and make it hard to guess but easy to remember for you.

Chat Lock+

  • All installed chat apps which can be locked with Chat Lock+ will be displayed on the screen. Toggle the button on for WhatsApp (and any other apps you want to lock).

Chat Lock+ Settings

  • The app has some built-in security options in its Settings that you need to make sure are turned on. The most important ones are ‘Prevent Uninstallation’ and ‘Protect Uninstall from Google Play’. These will ensure no one can uninstall Chat Lock+ unless they know the PIN number, so all your the apps you locked will remain PIN protected.

Stop WhatsApp photos and videos from showing up in the Gallery

Even if you lock WhatsApp media content you receive through the app will still appear in the Gallery. If you want to hide them, so no one that’s browsing through your Gallery will be able to see these photos, there are two easy ways you can do it.

The first method should work with your stock file explorer app so open it and locate the WhatsApp folder that should have one folder for images and another one for videos under Media. Select one of those folders e.g. ‘WhatsApp Images’ and rename it to ‘.WhatsApp Images’. Adding the dot in front of the name of a folder will make it hidden, so it will not show up in the Gallery anymore.

You'll only see hidden folders like this one if you enable the related option from your file explorer's Settings.
You’ll only see hidden folders like this one if you enable the related option from your file explorer’s Settings.

However, as soon as you rename it, the folder will also disappear from the file explorer. To make it visible, go to the app’s and look for an option called ‘Show hidden files’ (or something similar). Turn it on, and you’ll be able to see the hidden folders in the file explorer app – their contentsl still won’t be displayed in the Gallery though.

For the second method, I recommend installing ES File Explorer, but you can use another similar app that lets you create new files on your device. All you have to do is open ES File Explorer and navigate to those WhatsApp media folders. Then create a new file called ‘.nomedia’ in each one. This makes their content disappear from the Gallery, but doesn’t hide the folders in file managers and explorers.

Hide or restrict personal information in WhatsApp

WhatsApp Settings - Privacy

By default your Whatsapp ‘Last seen’ timestamp, profile photo and status can be seen by everyone. In WhatsApp’s settings under Account->Privacy you can restrict each of the above mentioned information so it’s visible only for your contacts or hide it from everyone.

Disable Read Receipts

WhatsApp Read Receipts

Remember those blue ticks you see on a message you sent to someone else? This means that person has read it. With the ‘Read Receipts’ option turned on in the same Privacy settings we just talked about, others can see when you read the messages they sent you.

You can disable the option if you don’t want people to know when you read their messages, but if you do it, you won’t be able to see read receipts from others as well, so take that into account when you decide if you need this feature or not.

Following all of these steps will keep your WhatsApp chats private, but only on your end. Try to remember that when you decide to share sensitive information with others like bank accounts, phone numbers, addresses, passwords and whatnot.

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