Signal Messenger Guide on Mobile and Desktop


Author: InvisibleUser Team

Welcome to our brief Signal Messenger guide for beginners. We would like to help you get started with secure instant messaging.

We all use messaging services, like SMS, WhatsApp, iMessage, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger at work or for private conversations. Unfortunately, popular services are highly compromised when it comes to privacy. There are much better options. In this post, we will give instructions on how to use Signal Messenger on desktop and mobile.

Signal Messenger Guide on Windows/Mac

The Signal Messenger client is available for Windows, Mac and most Linux distros. You can use only one mobile device, but as many desktop PCs as you want with your account. Signal works on PC the same way as on a phone and the UI is similar. VoIP calls are unfortunately not available on PC. Audio messages are possible and the PC version is very useful if you want to send documents/files over Signal.

How to set up Signal on PC

To set the PC client up, you connect it to the same phone number that you used for the mobile app. This can be confirmed using an SMS or by scanning a QR code. To do the latter, go to the main menu of the mobile app and tap your account icon. Then go to Linked Devices and choose Link new device. This opens a QR code scanner.

Now, open the desktop client for the first time. It will give you the option to link it with your phone and display a QR code. Scan the code with the phone and you are good to go.

Have fun and stay safe! The official documentation is here.

Signal Messenger Guide on iOS and Android

The Signal Messenger app is available for iOS and Android phones, but not tablets. On tablets like the iPad, it runs as an emulated iPhone app, so it does not scale to your screen and is not optimised for the device. That is not really a problem, since you need a device that can receive a verification SMS, so you will use your phone anyway. By the way, WhatsApp is also unavailable for tablets.

Let us now get to Signal on smartphones. A great feature of the mobile app is that you can take photos with the camera icon in Signal and they are not saved in your device’s internal storage.

This is the best way to safely send pictures if you are in a hurry. The “disappearing messages” feature also applies to photos you send and you can share encrypted images with great ease.

Something that makes Signal on mobile much less annoying than WhatsApp is that it does not save pictures people send to you without asking. Signal therefore creates much less photo spam than Facebook’s software.

The mobile app also allows you to make video calls, but it does not work on all devices. Tablets are again excluded from this function. It is the only video call app we can recommend for privacy, besides Jitsi and Tox.

How to set up Signal on Mobile

When you open the Signal app for the first time, you will get the option to register your device. That does not require you real name or email address, only a nickname and your phone number. That is necessary, because Signal needs to send an SMS to confirm your account. Enter all necessary details and tap Register.

After that, you will get your SMS verification code and you need to type it into the app. Your account is now activated. Signal will search your contacts to see if they use Signal too. If they do, they will show up in the app. The data from your contacts will not be saved on Signal servers. The app does not even have to send any cleartext phone numbers to the server in the first place. It can just compare the hash of the number to a number in the database, without ever seeing the unencrypted numbers in your contacts app.

Android only

Only on Android, you can set Signal as your default SMS/MMS app. That is a bit risky, because the messages to people that do not have Signal will be unencrypted. Before sending messages on Android, check if the phone icon and the “Send Message” icon have a little lock symbol. Only those will use encryption. We think this is a great feature, but please make sure that you send confidential information through the encrypted chat.

The official documentation for smartphones is here.


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