Telegram checks just about every box when it comes to a modern-day messaging app: It’s available on multiple platforms, it offers end-to-end encryption, it supports stickers and media files, and it enables group and channel chats that can have hundreds of thousands of people in them (if you have that many friends).
Part of the app’s appeal is that it’s so simple to set up and use—if you’ve used a messaging app before, you can use Telegram—but there are so many features and options packed into the software that you might not have come across all of them. That’s where these tips come in.
Tidy Up After Yourself
Maybe you don’t want years and years of conversation to build up inside the Telegram app, particularly for chats that hold very little sentimental value. The app’s auto-delete feature will erase messages once they reach a certain age, making your conversations less cluttered and adding an extra level of digital privacy.
To turn on the auto-delete feature in a conversation, tap the bar at the top of the chat, then choose the three dots and Enable Auto-Delete (if you’re on iOS) or Auto-Delete (if you’re on Android.) You can pick a specific duration from the list provided by the app or set your own with the custom option—the longest auto-delete setting is one year.
Set Custom Notification Sounds
You can add your own audio snippets as custom notification sounds in Telegram, which can then be applied to any conversation you like. From a conversation, tap the top bar then pick Mute (iOS) or Notifications (Android) and select Customize: Audio files and voice messages less than five seconds and up to 300 KB in size are currently supported.
Change Your Default Reaction
Maybe you’ve noticed that you can double-tap on any message in a chat to apply a default reaction—which is a thumbs up, unless you’ve changed it. To pick a different default reaction, go to the main Settings screen in the app, then choose Stickers and Emoji and Quick Reaction (on iOS) or Chat Settings and Quick Reaction (on Android.)
To access more reaction emoji besides the default quick reaction, you can long-press on a message (iOS) or tap on a message (Android). In group chats and channels, it’s up to the admins whether reactions are available and which reactions can be used, so the pop-up menu might look different depending on which Telegram conversation you’re in.
Get an Instant Translation
If you’re chatting with someone on Telegram in another language, you can get translations of their messages inside the app. From the Settings page, you need to pick Language and then turn the Show Translate Button toggle switch to on—so that whenever a message comes in that isn’t written in your device’s default language, you’ll get a translate button.
Send Secret Messages
By default, Telegram chats are encrypted but aren’t end-to-end encrypted (see here for the differences). For the most secure chats, and to avoid leaving any kind of digital trail behind you, you can switch to a secret chat mode with certain people in your contacts list. This secret chat stays on one device only and exists as a separate conversation with the user.
From Contacts (on the navigation bar on iOS, on the app menu on Android), tap a user to open their conversation list. Tap the top bar to see their profile, then the three dots, then Start Secret Chat. These chats can also have self-destruct timers on messages—use the timer icon in the chat bar (iOS) or in the conversation options (Android) to configure this.
Share Your Location With Others
Telegram can help when you’re meeting with and keeping tabs on friends and family: If you tap the paperclip icon down by the chat input box in any conversation, you can choose Location to let other people know where you are. You can also continuously share your live location with others inside the same chat window for a period of up to eight hours.
Avoid Spoilers on Telegram
No one likes spoilers, whether it’s sports results or twist endings in movies, and Telegram comes with a feature that lets you hide messages until the recipient is ready to read them. It’s particularly useful in group chats, where you might have a situation where some people are up to speed on whatever is being discussed while other chat participants might not be.
To add a spoiler layer, type out a message without sending it, then select the text you want to hide. On the menu that pops up, choose Spoiler as the formatting (on iOS, you need to select the formatting button first). The selected part of the message will be obscured when viewed by other people, and they can tap on the fuzzy block to see the text underneath.
Use Unlimited Cloud Storage
As a Telegram user, you actually get an unlimited amount of free cloud storage for sharing files with other people in your contacts list—the only limitation is that no one file can be more than 2 GB in size. To pick a file from your phone inside a Telegram conversation, tap on the paperclip icon down at the side of the chat input box, then select File to browse.
Save Important Messages
Telegram includes a saved messages feature that you can use for those messages that you really want to keep—maybe an important address or a family picture. Saving a message couldn’t be much easier: From inside one of your chats, long-press on a specific message to select it, then choose Forward and Saved Messages.
The Saved Messages folder is pinned to the top of your contacts list, and it’s fully searchable if you delve into it—you can store as much here as you like. Each item has a button next to it that lets you jump to its original location, and your saved messages are synced between all the devices on which you have Telegram installed.
Customize Your Mute Settings
For those busy group chats, muting is a vital way of maintaining your sanity, and Telegram gives you lots of control over mute duration. In a conversation, tap on the top bar, then pick Mute (iOS) or Notifications (Android): You can then select Mute for to pick one of the options shown, and iPhone users get to choose a particular end date if necessary.