How to send self-destructing files: Stop your data ending up in the wrong hands
The problem with sharing files and even sending emails is that your data can remain on one or more servers for an indefinite amount of time. If you’re sending private information – whether that’s passwords, banking information, or something more risque – that’s really not something you want.
Thankfully, there’s an easy way around this which is to simply use tools that let you set your messages or files to self-destruct. Below we cover several examples of such tools that work on your PC, phone, or tablet.
Just remember, even when using self-destructing files that there’s still always a very small risk that data could end up in the wrong hands – you’re sending it to someone else, after all. If this sounds like a risk you can’t afford to take, then maybe think twice before sending it at all.
Self-destructing PC tools
One of our favorite tools expired in September of 2020, Firefox Send. The service let users send files without creating an account through a trusted source. But, since this is one is no longer available, we’ve compiled a list of other services that also require no login credentials or personal information.
Privatty is a simple-to-use, free website that lets you send self-destructing messages using a variety of methods. We love this site because it doesn’t require any personal or login information to use it. But, you can also choose to type a note or upload a file like a picture or a document.
Once you visit the website, simply tap in the ‘Create New’ box to type, or copy and paste content. Or, Upload your file on the left-hand side. The next page will give you a link to copy to your device’s clipboard. Paste the link in a text, email, or other service and send it to your contact.
When your contact receives it, they’ll get a notification that opening the link will result in it’s destruction.
Upon refreshing the screen or traveling to another app, the note is automatically destroyed.
There are two drawbacks to this service, one we can fix, the other we can’t. First, you’ll need to send this link via an email or texting client. Second, the recipient can easily take a screenshot and keep the note forever.
We can’t control whether the recipient captures the note, but we can ensure they don’t know where it’s coming from.
Using a fake phone number or a temporary email address will solve the first problem we’ve listed. Fortunately, we have a full article on how to use a temporary email here.
Lastly, you can control how long the content is active and whether your recipient knows it will self-destruct by selecting the ‘More Options’ at the bottom of the screen.
Check the ‘Do not ask for confirmation before showing and destroying the note’ box if you don’t want the recipient to get a warning.
SafeNote is incredibly similar to Privatty, but there are a few more options and the messages are encrypted. Similar to Privatty it is a free service that doesn’t ask for any personal information to use.
All you need to do to send your self-destructing message is click ‘Upload File’ at the top of the webpage. Upload your file and select ‘Show Advanced Options’ to set your parameters.
Click ‘Upload Files’ and select the platform you’d like to send the message on. SafeNote will not give you a link to copy and paste on any platform you choose. Instead, you’ll need to select one of the options listed below the ‘Upload Files’ button.
You can choose Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Email, LinkedIn, Reddit, WA, and Telegram. For ultimate security, you may want to select the Telegram option, we actually have an article here that will help you maintain your privacy.
When your recipient receives the message, it’ll self-destruct depending on the parameters you’ve set above. Keep in mind, you can also add password protection to your note. If you’d like to get an email confirmation that your message has disappeared for the recipient be sure to include that on the ‘Advanced Options’ page before uploading.
Lastly, you can send a note too. Instead of attaching a document or file, simply type your message into the ‘Private Message’ box. SafeNote has a link to TempMail in the upper right-hand corner too. Not ready to reveal your real email address? Simply tap here and a new webpage will open.
Self-Destructing Phone and Tablet Tools
The idea of self-destructing messages has really taken off in the community of app developers too! We’ve listed a few ways to send disappearing messages using some of our favorite apps below!
If you need to share passwords or other private information with your friends, then Telegram’s ‘Secret chats’ give you the confidence that this information won’t end up in the wrong hands. Secret chats not only offer end-to-end encryption but also block forwarding of content and let you order your messages, photos, videos, and other files to self-destruct a specific amount of time after they’ve been read or opened.
To start a new secret chat on an Android device, open Telegram’s main menu and select New Secret Chat. On iOS, tap the icon in the top-right corner in Messages then choose New Secret Chat. Next, choose the recipient and set the self-destruct timer by tapping the clock icon and then choosing the desired time limit. Now, when you send a message or file, it’ll disappear according to this timer.
It’s worth noting that secret chats are device-specific, so if you start a secret chat on your Android phone, it’ll only be visible there, not on your other devices. Any messages you send before setting the self-destruct timer will remain visible to the recipient unless you manually delete them. To do this, long-press the individual message (not the chat) and choose Delete. Photos sent with a timer of less than a minute are not available to download and screenshots are also blocked.
If you want to send end-to-end encrypted, self-destructive messages, you might not need to download a dedicated messaging app such as Telegram because both these features are now supported by Facebook Messenger.
To open a ‘Secret Conversation’ in Messenger for Android, open a normal conversation with the person you want to share private information with, then tap the info button and choose ‘Go to Secret Conversation’. Like Telegram, Messenger lets you send messages, photos, and videos in Secret Conversations, but there’s no support for other files.
To set the self-destruct timer, tap the stopwatch in the text-input field and choose the time after which you want messages to disappear. Before typing your message, you’ll see the text-input field clearly marked with a ‘disappearing message’. Unlike Telegram, there’s no option to manually delete messages from the recipient’s device that you didn’t set to self-destruct, and there’s nothing to stop recipients using screenshots to capture your self-destructive content.
Apple iMessage’s ‘Invisible Ink’ feature lets you make messages invisible until the recipient chooses to reveal them, but there’s no option to set them to self-destruct, which means it only offers added fun and not security. However, it is possible to create self-destructive messages in iMessage by installing the third-party app Confide. Tap the Apps icon within iMessage, then tap the Additional Apps option before selecting the ‘+ Store’ icon. Once you’re in the store, tap the search icon to search for Confide, and then install it.
To send a self-destructive message with Confide, tap the Apps icon again and then swipe right until you see Confide. Select Get Started and you can then choose whether you want to send a self-destructive message or photo. After entering your message, tap Continue and then the Send button in iMessage. The message appears as an iMessage attachment on the recipient’s device unless they need to install Confide, in which case they’ll see a link they can tap to install it.
Swiping your finger across a message reveals it and you can only view each message once, after which it automatically self-destructs. If you find the process of sending Confide messages in iMessage a bit clunky, you can just use the Confide app directly, providing your recipient has it, too. It’s also available for Windows, Mac, and Android using the link above.