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- Send a message
- How to know if your communication is private?
- Blog post for Signal's approach to user data
- SMS messages are different than Signal messages.
- Signal is removing SMS support in Android, which we announced here. To move SMS to another messaging app, follow steps here.
- All Signal messages are private and will continue to work.
Here, we review the reasons we chose to remove SMS. We did not make this choice lightly, but we do believe it is necessary to ensure that Signal meets the highest privacy standards for the future.
- SMS is not secure or private, and that means it's fundamentally not compatible with Signal. SMS sends your messages in the clear, so your telecom or anyone snooping on your traffic could read them. Not all people understand the difference between a Signal message and an SMS message, and this led to potentially dangerous incidents where people sent messages they thought were private via SMS.
- SMS is not used much beyond the US and a few other western countries, and its use is declining.
- Signal does not control delivery of SMS and can not prevent spam being sent via SMS. In the US, leading up to elections, unwanted SMS spam was very common, and led to confusion and a surge in complaints to Signal.
- SMS messages are very expensive in many parts of the world. This resulted in many people getting huge bills for SMS messages sent from Signal that they thought were Signal messages.
- Proper SMS support takes a lot of time and labor. Signal has to support millions of devices running dozens of versions of Android. Now multiply that by the hundreds of cell carriers running an old and buggy protocol, and the scope and extent of the bugs and problems people encountered in the process of sending SMS messages begins to be clear.
- SMS is an old and degraded protocol, with many bugs. Remember that incident a few years ago in which everyone got old Valentine’s SMS messages delivered 9 months later? This was due to an SMS protocol bug. This is one of a host of problems that Signal can’t remedy, and that affect people who use SMS via Signal.
- Google is introducing RCS, a new messaging protocol set to displace SMS. The introduction of RCS is making it more and more difficult to maintain a third party SMS app. Currently, SMS messages are being dropped, and other bugs are occurring more frequently due to collisions between SMS and RCS. And there is no API that would allow Signal to integrate RCS.
- Offering SMS support was only possible on Android. iOS does not allow third party SMS clients. This meant that our iOS and Desktop clients were not in sync with Android.
- If you have never used Signal for insecure SMS, there's nothing to do.
- If you have used or still use Signal as your default SMS app, you will need to choose a new default app you and may want to export your SMS to that app.
- How do I move SMS to a new default SMS app?
- What do I do after exporting?
- How do I export SMS messages again?
- What if I don't see the export SMS option?
- What if I do not see the remove SMS option?
- What if I do not see SMS and MMS listed in Signal Settings > Chats?
- How do I manage Signal as my default SMS/MMS app?
- How do I send insecure SMS/MMS?
- What happens if I do nothing?
- What do I do if I need help?
How do I move SMS to a new default SMS app?
- Export SMS messages out of Signal.
- In Signal, tap your profile > Chats > SMS and MMS > Export SMS messages.
- This export is for another SMS app only.
- Remove SMS messages to clear up storage space.
- In Signal, tap your profile > Chats > SMS and MMS > Remove SMS messages.
- Choose another default SMS app.
- In Signal, tap your profile > Chats > SMS and MMS > Use as default SMS app > follow steps from your OS to select an app that is not Signal.
- This export is only accessible to another SMS app.
- This may take a few minutes to appear in the other default SMS app.
What do I do after exporting?
- Remove SMS messages to clear up storage space as listed above.
- Confirm Signal is no longer set as your default SMS app.
How do I export SMS messages again?
- If you have not removed SMS messages, you can export them again. Exporting can result in duplicate messages in your new SMS/MMS app.
- In Signal, tap your profile > Chats > SMS and MMS > Export SMS messages again > select Continue.
What if I do not see the export SMS option?
- Update to the latest version of Signal.
- Confirm there are SMS messages in Signal.
What if I do not see the remove SMS option?
- Update to the latest version of Signal.
- Confirm you have not received or sent any *new* SMS.
- Export again.
What if I do not see SMS and MMS listed in Signal Settings > Chats?
You're all set. You've completed the export and switched to a new default SMS app.
How do I switch to another default SMS/MMS app?
In Signal, tap your profile > Chats > SMS and MMS > Use as default SMS app > follow steps from your OS to select an app that is not Signal.
How do I send insecure SMS/MMS?
Switch to a different SMS/MMS app.
What happens if I do nothing?
Signal will eventually stop working as your default SMS messenger. Pre-existing SMS/MMS will remain in Signal, but you won't be able to send or receive SMS/MMS once the feature is removed.
What if I need help?
In Signal, tap your profile > Help > Contact us > tell us details and send us an email.
No. You can not send or receive insecure SMS/MMS with Signal on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. All communication through Signal iOS is private. Apple does not allow other apps to replace the default SMS/messaging app.
No. Signal Desktop does not send or receive insecure SMS/MMS messages. Only Signal messages will be sent or received. We want to encourage users to move away from insecure legacy protocols.
The desktop app is an independent client that works whether or not your mobile device is present or online. You will still need Signal installed on your phone for full functionality like managing blocked chats, read receipts, linked devices, etc.