Signal, like WhatsApp, is a chat app that lets you message and call friends and family using end-to-end encryption, which means your messages are more protected and can’t be easily read by anyone, including Signal itself. It supports group messages and other fun features you might already use in chat apps, like GIFs, videos and pictures. It even has encrypted group video calls, though supported is limited to five people right now. It’s completely free and you can use it on iPhones, Android phones, Macs, Windows PCs and Linux.
Signal isn’t some massive tech company out to make money from your information, either. It’s a registered nonprofit and relies on donations to operate. The free app doesn’t collect your private information and it doesn’t have any ads.
Here’s how to use it.
The Signal Messenger app is displayed on a smartphone in Hong Kong, China.
Roy Liu | Bloomberg | Getty Images
- Download Signal for iPhone or Android.
- Enter in your phone number. This is so Signal can send you a text message and verify you’re the one using the app.
- Enter in the code you received via text message.
- Tap “Register without Transferring.” If you’ve used Signal before, you can choose “Transfer from iOS device” to download your old conversations but, for the sake of this guide, we’re assuming you haven’t used Signal yet.
- Now you’re at the Signal home screen.
- Tap the pencil icon on the top-right to create a message.
- You can start messaging people who are already using Signal. But you may also need to tap “Invite Friends to Signal” if your contact doesn’t have the app yet. This will allow you to create an email message or text message to friends and family with a link to download the app.
- Once they’ve joined, you can start chats using the same pencil icon, or create groups, much like you would in WhatsApp. You’ll even see read receipts, links to send audio messages, stickers, photos and more.
That’s it! Now you’re up and running on Signal. If you want to use it instead of WhatsApp, you can delete your WhatsApp chats by tapping “edit” on the top-left of the chat page. Select your messages and then tap “delete.” A copy of your messages may remain for other users in chats you’ve participated in until they also delete the chats.