WhatsApp is bringing a new feature to its messaging service this month – Disappearing messages. Given that most of us don’t go deleting our chats very often, the old messages keep piling up. So this is a great move on WhatsApp’s part that’ll help in potentially reducing our digital footprint.

It’ll also help make our WhatsApp chats feel more personal and private and closer to real-life communications. After all, our communications aren’t supposed to last forever. Though most of us might feel a bit anxious about hopping on-board this train in the beginning as it feels good to hold on to memories, it will turn out to be a good thing.

How to Enable Disappearing Chats

Disappearing chats won’t be on by default, but users can enable the option for both 1:1 as well as group chats. There is no single setting that’ll turn on the feature for all chats, though. You’ll have to enable the option for each chat. When the option is enabled, any messages sent in the chat will disappear permanently after 7 days. Messages present in the chat before enabling the setting won’t be affected.

For an individual chat, both users can enable/ disable the feature. But for group chats, only the admins will have the right to deploy it for the group. If a user has disappearing messages on for a chat but doesn’t read a message within 7 days, it will be deleted.

To enable disappearing messages, open the chat in WhatsApp. Then, tap on the Contact/ Group name.

In contact settings, a new option ‘Disappearing Messages’ will appear’; tap it. If a prompt appears, tap ‘Continue’.

Then, select the ‘On’ option.

All messages sent in the chat from this point onward, including media, will disappear after 7 days until you disable the feature. The other user(s) in the chat or group chat will receive a notification within the chat that you’ve enabled disappearing messages. They can also disable it if they want.

For media like images and videos, if auto-save to photos in on, then the media will only be deleted from WhatsApp chat, but will be present in your iPhone’s gallery.

You can disable the feature by going to Contact Settings and selecting ‘Off’ in the ‘Disappearing Messages’ setting.

The feature will start rolling today and will reach all users gradually this month. Although it’s a great feature, WhatsApp cautions users to only use it with people you trust like friends and family. Also, users can still save your messages – they can take a screenshot, and like Snapchat, you won’t know that the other person took a screenshot.

Also, if someone forwards a disappearing message to a chat with disappearing messages disabled, the message won’t disappear from the forwarded chat.