How to send disappearing photos and videos on WhatsApp — save precious smartphone storage

WhatsApp View Once
(Image credit: WhatsApp)

WhatsApp is rolling out a new "View Once" feature that lets you send photos and videos that can only be viewed once when opened. Not only does this offer better control over your privacy, but it can stop your smartphone's camera roll from piling up.

The View Once option will be available to all WhatsApp users, allowing you to send photos and videos that are deleted from the chat once opened by the recipient. Once viewed, a message will appear stating the media has already been “opened.” 

Since photos or videos won't save to linger on your camera roll, taking up valuable space, this feature is a great way for users to save storage on their smartphones. 

How to send disappearing photos and videos on WhatsApp

The new feature is easily accessible on iPhone, Android phones, and WhatsApp Web thanks to the new “one-time” icon. 

  • Open WhatsApp.
  • Choose a new or existing chat.
  • Select the camera icon or the paperclip icon to attach media from your device's camera roll.
  • After taking a picture or video, or selecting a saved image, a “1” will be available to click on the left side of the send button.
  • Tap the "1" icon. The media will now be set to be viewed once.

(Image credit: Future)

On the app, select the camera icon or the paperclip clip to attach media from your device's camera roll. After taking a picture or video, or selecting a saved image, a “1” will be available to click on the left side of the send button. Once selected, the media will now be set to be viewed once.

The receiver will know it's a disappearing piece of media before opening it, as it will be marked with the icon. While the photo or video does delete, that doesn't mean the person you're sending it to can't screenshot the image. WhatsApp also doesn't state it will let the sender know if a screenshot is taken, so it's best to send private info to trusted people.

Still, View Once is a welcome privacy feature for those sending in-the-moment snaps or private information such as Wi-Fi passwords (and more intimate imagery). WhatsApp enforces its stance on privacy by stating, "View Once media is protected by end-to-end encryption so WhatsApp cannot see them."

WhatsApp has only started rolling out its disappearing features, now catching up to the other best messaging apps many smartphones users communicate with. Telegram and Signal already offer timed self-destructing messages, including photos and videos. 

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.