WhatsApp’s “Chat Lock” feature is a solid way to separate your private threads from the ones you don’t mind out in the open. If someone were to open up your WhatsApp account, you probably wouldn’t mind them seeing your innocent chats with your grandparents, but there are plenty of chats that you know no one else should see. (Thank god for end-to-end encryption.)
But Chat Lock alone isn’t perfect. When you decide to lock a chat, WhatsApp places it in a folder named “Locked Chats.” That’s, um, a little obvious, and would likely be the first place a snooper might think to check for sensitive, embarrassing, or private conversations should they gain access to your app.
To add an additional layer of security to Chat Lock, WhatsApp is now rolling out a new feature called “secret code,” a strategy to keep your locked chats away from prying eyes. With the new feature, you can designate a secret code to your Locked Chats folder. When you do, Locked Chats will disappear from your main screen. The only way to find these conversations will be to search for the specific secret code.
How to use secret code to hide your Locked Chats in WhatsApp
WhatsApp started seeding the new feature to users on Thursday, Nov. 30, but it will be rolling out in full over the coming weeks. I don’t seem to have the feature on my end yet, so it’s not clear exactly how to set up your secret code. It’s possible the option will appear in the Locked Chats folder, as right now, only your chats appear here.
When you do see the option to set up a secret code, however, you will be able to set your code to whatever you want—emoji included. In Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement on his WhatsApp channel, he used “Zuck🤫1130!” as his example code. Now we all know how to break into his Locked Chats.
Once set up, Locked Chats will disappear. You’ll be able to find the folder and all your private communications, by searching for your secret code from the Chats search bar.
WhatsApp hasn’t shared details on what happens if you forget your secret code. The prompt does say to “make it memorable,” but there’s no telling if there’s an option to reset or undo these changes. Of course, it’s not necessarily a password, just a searchable phrase, so it might be easier to guess at in the search bar than a password would.
This feature might be too much for some people, who might still want to clearly see their chats, secret or not. For them, WhatsApp has a more convenient way to lock a chat: Now, you can long-press on any thread and choose Lock Chat, rather than go through a chat’s settings menu first.
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