What You Should Know About View-Once Media on WhatsApp

Key Takeaways

  • WhatsApp’s View Once Media feature allows you to send photos and videos that disappear after being viewed, providing convenience and privacy.
  • Recipients can capture or save view-once media through methods like taking a photo of the screen or using screen recording tools.
  • While WhatsApp says it does not have access to view-once media, the company may receive a copy if it is reported for violating terms of service.



WhatsApp’s View Once Media feature is a convenient way to send photos and videos that disappear after being viewed. It’s designed to protect your privacy and save storage space. But there are some things you should know about using it, including risks.

View-once media is any photo or video that you send on WhatsApp with the view-once option enabled. You can enable this option by tapping on the “1” icon next to the send button when you select a media file from your gallery.

When you send view-once photos and videos on WhatsApp, the recipient will see a message that says “Photo” or “Video” with a “1” icon next to it. When the recipient taps on the message, they will be able to view the media once, and then it will disappear from the chat.

Screenshot showing unopened view once message

You can also send view-once voice notes on WhatsApp, which is essentially a way to get your voice notes to self-destruct after they’ve been listened to.

Can Someone Save or Screenshot a View Once Message?

While view-once media is designed to be ephemeral and private, there are some ways that someone can save or capture a copy of it. For example, they can use another device to take a photo or video of the screen while viewing the media.

The latest version of WhatsApp blocks users from taking screenshots or recording view-once media. However, you can’t always tell what version of WhatsApp the receiver uses. Some devices may also support screen-recording view once media.

Therefore, you should only use view once for sending media that you trust the recipient with and that you don’t mind being saved or shared by them. You should also be aware of the risks and limitations of the view once feature and not rely on it for complete privacy or security.

Why Can’t I Open a View-Once Image on WhatsApp?

screenshot showing view once message alert on whatsapp web

If you receive a view once image on WhatsApp, but can’t open it, it may be because you are using the desktop or web version of WhatsApp. View-once images can only be opened with the mobile app on Android or iOS devices. This is to ensure privacy and prevents recipients from using a screen recorder or snipping tool on their computer to store the media.

WhatsApp says it does not have access to view once media thanks to its end-to-end encryption. However, there is one exception: if someone reports your view-once media message to WhatsApp for violating its terms of service or community standards.

If someone reports a view-once media to WhatsApp, WhatsApp will receive a copy of the media file along with the report. This helps WhatsApp review and take action against abusive or illegal content on its platform.

According to WhatsApp’s FAQ, unopened view-once media are stored for up to two weeks on its servers before they expire from the chat.

View-Once Messages and Your Privacy

WhatsApp’s View Once feature allows you to send photos and videos that disappear after the recipient has opened them. It can be useful for sharing sensitive or private information, or just adding some extra privacy to your chats.

However, view-once media on WhatsApp is not foolproof. Thus, you should use the feature knowing that your media can be reshared if the recipient wants to. You should also avoid sending anything illegal, harmful, or offensive.

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