Have you ever wanted to send images and videos that you would prefer not to keep in the chat window of WhatsApp? If yes, WhatsApp will soon add what you are looking for. After confirming the feature in an interview recently, WhatsApp has started rolling out the option to send disappearing photos and videos to beta testers on Android. This new feature is called “View Once,” and here’s how you can use it to send photos and videos that self-destruct once they are viewed in WhatsApp.
Before getting started, it’s worth mentioning that the “View Once” mode is available only for beta testers at the time of writing this article. Hence, you may not immediately see the feature on your device. However, we could expect WhatsApp to roll out the feature to all users in the coming weeks.
View Once is a new WhatsApp feature that lets users privately exchange images and videos. Media sent using View once mode will disappear after the recipient has viewed it. Based on my testing, you can see if the recipient has opened the image even if you have disabled read receipts. However, there are a few caveats you should keep in mind before using the feature. View Once the mode is not as private as one might assume.
Although images or videos disappear once the recipient closes them, the receiver can always take screenshots. Moreover, WhatsApp won’t notify you if the recipient takes screenshots. In fact, WhatsApp openly admits this limitation and clarifies it in a pop-up when you use View Once mode for the first time, hinting that the messaging giant is not planning to implement a screenshot detection mechanism in the future. Hence, if you are thinking of sending private images through this new feature, you are better off with other secure messaging apps or Snapchat.
Once you have sent an image or video in View Once mode, you (sender) can’t open it from the conversation page. However, if you send an image by accident, you can delete the message for everyone before the recipient manages to open it.
You might now be wondering that WhatsApp already has an option to send disappearing messages. And yeah, it does. So, what makes the new View Once feature different from disappearing messages? That’s what we will explore in this section.
The primary difference between disappearing messages and View Once is the duration. While messages sent via disappearing messages mode in WhatsApp will expire after 7 days, photos and videos marked as View Once will disappear once the recipient opens the media file. Another way the new feature differs from the disappearing messages is in its scope. Disappearing messages affect all text and media files in the conversation, while View Once is limited to images and videos.
Now that you have an idea about the new View Once feature and how it works, here’s how to use it in personal chats and groups:
1. Open a WhatsApp chat and pick an image or video from the media picker UI, just like you usually do to send photos and videos in the messaging app.
2. When you are on the page that lets you write a caption before sending the photo or video, tap on the new “View Once” button present at the bottom right corner of the chatbox. The icon will turn green once you have enabled it.
3. As mentioned earlier, you can’t see the image you sent in the chat window. Instead, you will see a text that says “Photo” and a clock icon next to it. Here’s how an image sent using View Once mode appears for the sender and recipient.
View Once mode in WhatsApp – Sender (left) vs. Recipient (right)
4. When the recipient opens the media file, the text “Photo” will automatically change to “Opened” to reflect the current status. This happens regardless of the read receipts privacy setting. I turned off read receipts on both devices and was able to see when the image was opened. You can long-press the “Opened” chat bubble and tap on the ‘i’ button to view the detailed message info of the photo/ video.
So, that’s how you use the new View Once feature to send expiring photos and videos on WhatsApp. Since the feature doesn’t have a screenshot blocking or detection mechanism, I would not recommend using it for exchanging private images or videos. However, it could come in handy for other images that are not sensitive in nature.
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