How to Enable and Use Secret Chat Feature for Encrypted Chats in Telegram Messenger

Telegram is a popular messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for secure communication. One of its standout privacy features is Secret Chats.

Secret Chats allow Telegram users to exchange messages with end-to-end encryption, leaving no trace on Telegram’s servers. This ensures private communication where only the sender and recipient can read the messages.

As someone who values privacy, I have used Telegram’s Secret Chat feature extensively. In this article, I’ll share my hands-on experience on how to start Secret Chats on Telegram.

What is a Secret Chat on Telegram?

A Secret Chat on Telegram has the following distinguishing properties:

  • End-to-End Encryption: Messages in Secret Chats use end-to-end encryption, which means they can only be read by the sender and recipient. Even Telegram servers can’t access them.
  • Not Saved in Telegram Cloud: Unlike Telegram’s regular chats, Secret Chats are not stored in Telegram’s cloud. So you can’t access them on other devices.
  • Self-Destructing Messages: You can set messages in Secret Chats to self-destruct after a specified time. This leaves no digital footprint behind.
  • Screenshot Notification: If the recipient takes a screenshot of the Secret Chat, the sender gets notified.
  • Not Forwarded: Messages sent in Secret Chats cannot be forwarded to other chats.

These privacy protections make Secret Chats the most private and secure way to communicate on Telegram.

How to Start a Secret Chat on Telegram

Starting a Secret Chat is easy on Telegram. Just follow these simple steps:

On Mobile

  1. Open the Telegram app on your phone
  2. Go to your contacts and select the person you want to start the Secret Chat with
  3. Tap on the profile picture of the contact
  4. Tap on the “…” icon next to the name
  5. Choose the “Start Secret Chat” option
  6. Confirm by tapping “Start” in the popup

You’ll now enter the Secret Chat screen with that contact.

On Desktop

Unfortunately, Telegram’s desktop apps don’t support Secret Chats. You can only use this feature on mobile devices.

Once you start a Secret Chat, you’ll see a separate entry for that contact in your chats list distinguished by a lock icon.

How to Verify Secret Chat Encryption

When you start a new Secret Chat, I recommend verifying that encryption is correctly set up between you and your contact.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Tap on the contact name in the Secret Chat screen
  2. Scroll down and look for the “Encryption key” section

This section displays the 64-character encryption key at both ends.

For verification, ask your contact to share their key and match it with yours. If the keys match, end-to-end encryption is properly set up.

If not, delete the chat and start over. This simple check ensures your Secret Chats are truly end-to-end encrypted.

How to Send Self-Destructing Messages

Secret Chats have a unique option to send self-destructing messages. After the recipient reads them, the messages will automatically disappear without a trace.

Here are the steps to enable self-destructing messages:

  1. Open the Secret Chat
  2. Tap on the timer icon next to the message box
  3. Choose a duration after which you want messages to self-destruct after being read

Now any messages you send will disappear as per the timer you set. You can disable the self-destruct feature at any time.

The shortest interval you can set is 1 second. The longest duration available is 1 week.

So if you’re discussing sensitive information, this is a handy feature to enable.

Important Things to Know About Secret Chats

While Secret Chats offer the highest level of privacy on Telegram, there are some nuances to be aware of:

  • Device-Specific: A Secret Chat can only be accessed on the device where it was initiated. So you won’t be able to access the same Secret Chat on another phone or tablet.
  • Logged Out = Lost Forever: If you log out of your Telegram account on a device, you’ll lose access to all Secret Chats initiated from that device. So they essentially get deleted and you won’t be able to retrieve the chat history.
  • Notifications Still Visible: While chat contents are encrypted, your contacts can still see notifications when you’re typing a message or when you last came online.
  • Desktop Excluded: You cannot access Secret Chats from Telegram Desktop apps. Only Telegram mobile apps support this feature.

So keep these limitations in mind while using Secret Chats for your most private conversations.

Why Secret Chats are Important for Privacy

Default chats in Telegram use client-server encryption. While the chats are encrypted in transit and on Telegram’s servers, Telegram still holds the encryption keys.

So theoretically, Telegram can access your chat history on their servers, even if they don’t right now.

However, with Secret Chats, the encryption keys are only stored on your device and your contact’s device. So there is no way for Telegram (or hackers who breach Telegram servers) to read your messages.

This is why enabling Secret Chats is critical for privacy-conscious users on Telegram.


I hope this detailed guide gives you clarity on how Telegram’s Secret Chat feature works and why it offers the highest level of security.

To quickly recap:

  • Secret Chats give end-to-end encrypted communication
  • Self-destructing messages leave no trail
  • Verifying encryption keys ensures correct setup
  • But know limitations like device-specific access

So if private messaging is a priority for you, don’t ignore Telegram’s Secret Chat capabilities. Enable this feature with your trusted contacts for peace of mind.

I’m a privacy advocate who writes about secure communication. I help raise awareness on tools like Secret Chats to protect user privacy.