Keep your phone number private with Signal usernames

iPhone showing the creation of a Signal username, axolotl.99, on a lightly colored gradient background with floating numbers.

Signal’s mission and sole focus is private communication. For years, Signal has kept your messages private, your profile information (like your name and profile photo) private, your contacts private, and your groups private – among much else. Now we’re taking that one step further, by making your phone number on Signal more private.

Here’s how:

  • New default: Your phone number will no longer be visible to everyone in Signal
    • If you use Signal, your phone number will no longer be visible to everyone you chat with by default. People who have your number saved in their phone’s contacts will still see your phone number since they already know it.
  • Connect without sharing your phone number
    • If you don’t want to hand out your phone number to chat with someone on Signal, you can now create a unique username that you can use instead (you will still need a phone number to sign up for Signal). Note that a username is not the profile name that’s displayed in chats, it’s not a permanent handle, and not visible to the people you are chatting with in Signal. A username is simply a way to initiate contact on Signal without sharing your phone number.
  • Control who can find you on Signal by phone number
    • If you don’t want people to be able to find you by searching for your phone number on Signal, you can now enable a new, optional privacy setting. This means that unless people have your exact unique username, they won’t be able to start a conversation, or even know that you have a Signal account – even if they have your phone number.

Right now, these options are in beta, and will be rolling out to everyone in the coming weeks.

Note that even once these features reach everyone, both you and the people you are chatting with on Signal will need to be using the most updated version of the app to take advantage of them.

Importantly, all of this is optional. While we changed the default to hide your phone number from people who don’t have it saved in their phone’s contacts, you can change this setting. You are not required to create a username and you have full control over whether you want people to be able to find you by your phone number or not. Whatever choices work for you and your friends, you’ll still be able to communicate with your connections in Signal, past and present.

Keeping your phone number private on Signal

Once these features roll out, your phone number will no longer be visible in Signal to anyone running the latest version of Signal who doesn’t already have it saved in their phone’s contacts. This means that when you participate in group chats, message people 1-1, and make Signal calls, your phone number won’t show up unless the person has it saved (you can also limit this further, as detailed below). Your Signal profile name and photo will continue to be visible.

If you’d still like everyone to see your phone number when messaging them, you can change the default by going to Settings > Privacy > Phone Number > Who can see my number. You can either choose to have your phone number visible to “Everyone” you message on Signal or “Nobody.” If you select “Nobody,” the only people who will see your phone number in Signal are people who already have it saved to their phone’s contacts.

Changing your phone number privacy settings by going to Settings > Privacy > Phone number will change whether they see your phone number in your profile.

We’re also introducing a setting that lets you control who can find you by your phone number on Signal. Up until today, anyone who had your phone number–from a party flier, a business card, or somewhere else–could look you up on Signal by phone number and message you. You can now restrict this by going to Settings > Privacy > Phone Number > Who can find me by my number and setting it to “Nobody.”

Selecting “Everybody” means that anyone who has your phone number can type it into Signal and send you a message request (which you can accept, reject, or block). This is still the default setting, and is how Signal has worked for years.

Changing your phone number privacy settings by going to Settings > Privacy > Phone number will change how people can connect with you on Signal.

Selecting “Nobody” means that if someone enters your phone number on Signal, they will not be able to message or call you, or even see that you’re on Signal. And anyone you’re chatting with on Signal will not see your phone number as part of your Profile Details page – this is true even if your number is saved in their phone’s contacts. Keep in mind that selecting “Nobody” can make it harder for people to find you on Signal. If your friend downloads Signal and opens the app to see who they can message, they won’t know that they can message you. Instead, in order to connect on Signal you will need to share your full, unique username with them.

You can change these settings at any time to best suit the ways you want to connect with others on Signal.

Usernames: Another way to start a conversation

Until now, someone needed to know your phone number to reach you on Signal. Now, you can connect on Signal without needing to hand out your phone number. (You will still need a phone number to register for Signal.) This is where usernames come in.

Instead of giving out your phone number, you can now share a username. You can also generate a QR code or link that directs people to your username, letting them quickly connect with you on Signal.

Two phones next to each other displaying the QR code and custom URLs to connect on Signal without sharing a phone number.

Generate a QR code or unique URL to connect on Signal without sharing your phone number by going to Profile > QR Code or Link.

Usernames in Signal do not function like usernames on social media platforms. Signal usernames are not logins or handles that you’ll be known by on the app – they’re simply a quick way to connect without sharing a phone number. Your profile name remains whatever you set it to. Your username is not displayed on your Profile Details page, and people you message can’t see or find your username without your sharing it. Put another way, someone will need to know your exact unique username in order to start a chat with you on Signal. And Signal does not provide a searchable directory of usernames.

To connect via username, type someone’s exact username into the New Chat bar and send them a message. Once they accept your message request, you’ll see their profile name in the chat.

We have also worked to ensure that keeping your phone number private from the people you speak with doesn’t necessitate giving more personal information to Signal. Your username is not stored in plaintext, meaning that Signal cannot easily see or produce the usernames of given accounts.

Usernames simply allow you to initiate a connection on Signal without sharing your phone number, and Signal’s robust privacy safeguards remain unchanged. Signal is built so that we do not know who you message, what you say, which group chats you participate in, who’s in your contact list, and more.

Set it, share it, change it

If you want to create a username, you can do so in Settings > Profile. A username on Signal (unlike a profile name) must be unique and must have two or more numbers at the end of it; a choice intended to help keep usernames egalitarian and minimize spoofing. Usernames can be changed as often as you like, and you can delete your username entirely if you prefer to no longer have one.

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To create a username, go to Settings > Profile.

Once you’ve created a username, you can share it with others who can use it to connect with you. To connect with someone via their username, simply open the New Chat screen on Signal and type in their username.

Since Signal does not provide a searchable directory of usernames, only people who have your exact unique username will be able to start a conversation with you. And you can share it with as few or as many people as you want.

You can also share a QR code or unique URL that shortcuts to your username in Signal. You can reset these at any time without having to change your username, much like a group invite link.

Usernames in Signal are designed to be easily changeable. For example, you can make a username to connect with people at a conference or to plan a group trip. Then, when it’s over, change it if you want to. Just click on your username from your Profile Details page to make the changes you want. When you change your username, your Signal contacts are not notified because your username is not visible to the people you are chatting with 1-1 or in groups.

To Recap

Starting soon, your phone number will no longer be visible to people you chat with on Signal, unless they have it in their phone’s contacts. You will also be able to configure a new privacy setting to limit who can find you by your phone number on Signal. And, you’ll now be able to create an optional username that you can share with the people you want to connect with on Signal.

For more information, you can take a look at our support center articles.

Currently these new features are in beta but will be rolling out to everyone in a few weeks.

Thanks to Nina Berman, Jun Harada, Ehren Kret, Joshua Lund, Jim O’Leary, Alex Ristevski, and Meredith Whittaker for helping to author and edit this post.

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