Whether you’ve been using Telegram for five minutes or five years, there are likely functionalities and settings you haven’t yet stumbled across that can help you get more out of your chats.
1. Send self-destructing messages
Whether you’re an undercover spy discussing matters of national security or you just don’t want to leave a digital trail behind as a matter of principle, Telegram can help with its Secret Chat feature. From the front screen, tap the compose button (bottom right), choose New Secret Chat, and then pick the contact that you’d like to message.
Once you’re in the conversation, tap the three dots (top right), then Set self-destruct timer to select how long messages will stick around for—your options go from one second to a whole week. The timer starts as soon as the other party sees your text, and after the time has elapsed, the message is deleted at both ends of the conversation.
2. Avoid spoilers
You probably don’t want to deliberately ruin someone else’s enjoyment of a particular show or movie if you can avoid it. Fortunately, Telegram has a built-in feature that will help you to steer clear of spoilers in your conversations, by allowing you to redact details from the latest Batman movie, for example, from your texts. This will alert your group chat that your message contains sensitive information, so people who haven’t seen the film can be spared.
When typing out a message, tap and hold on the text you want to obscure and pick the Spoiler option from the menu that appears. Keep in mind that for this feature to work, you’ll need to make sure your contacts are using it too.
3. Translate messages
There’s a translation feature inside Telegram that you can take advantage of. First, you need to enable it: From the front screen on Android, tap the menu button (top left), then choose Settings and Language, and tap Show Translate Button. On iOS, from the front screen of the app, choose Settings, Language, and Show Translate Button.
Translating a message is as simple as tapping on it (Android) or tapping and holding on it (iOS) and choosing Translate. The platform will automatically detect the original language, and the results will appear on-screen. Note that this option only translates languages into the default language your phone is set to, so it won’t appear for chats written in that language.
4. Find media files quickly
You might not know it, but when you use Telegram, you get free access to an unlimited amount of cloud storage for storing the pictures, video, and audio that you share over the platform. To see the images and video clips that you’ve sent and received in a specific chat, tap the bar at the top of the conversation, then scroll down and open the Media tab.
Telegram has added a couple of tricks to make it easier to scroll through lots of images and videos in lengthy conversations. First, put two fingers on the screen and move them away from each other to zoom out and see more thumbnails at once. Second, scroll down and use the date button that appears on the right to jump to specific months and dates.
5. React to messages
Sometimes you don’t want to send someone another message, but you do want to react to what they just said. Like many other apps (including Slack), Telegram supports reactions—little emojis that sit on top of messages and can be particularly useful in group conversations, where you don’t want to clutter up the feed.
To add a reaction to a message, just tap on it (Android) or tap and hold on it (iOS), and pick your emoji. To increase the size of the reaction’s animation effect, press and hold on it. Reactions are visible to all of the participants in a conversation, and you’ll see heart icons in the main chat list next to conversations that have unread reactions in them.
6. Share any location
Telegram can be useful when meeting up with family or friends by allowing you to share your current location, or where you’re heading to. Tap the attachment button (the paperclip) by the send message box, then tap Location to pick a place to share. When sharing your current location, you’ll also be able to set how long will be available to recipients.
When someone in your chat receives a location, they can tap on it for more details. On Android, there’s a Directions button that leads to Google Maps, and on iOS you get three directions buttons—for driving, taking public transport, and walking. Tap on any button to pick a map app to use, whether that’s Apple Maps or something else.
7. Switch to Telegram X
This is only available if you’re on Android, but it’s worth considering. Alongside the main client, Telegram also develops a more experimental version of the software called Telegram X. It’s a little more stripped-down—which should mean it runs faster—but it also includes features that you can’t currently access in the standard Android app.
At the time of writing some of the features unique to Telegram X include the ability to pin multiple messages inside a chat, the option to adjust video quality before sending, and statistics for your group chats that will show you which ones are more active. You can download Telegram X for Android and use it alongside or instead of the main client.