WhatsApp Allows Hiding Messages And Re-Downloading Deleted Media, But There’s A Catch

Users who delete the multimedia messages from within WhatsApp cannot recover the content. Media received in WhatsApp can be hidden in the phone's gallery.


WhatsApp recently added the ability to re-download deleted multimedia messages like images, GIFs, and video. However, users cannot recover all deleted media. There’s a limitation to the technique.

Popular internet-based messaging app WhatsApp has been steadily adding functions. The Facebook-owned platform recently unlocked the ability to recover multimedia messages that many users delete after watching. However, in order to access such deleted media, there has to be a pattern to the deletion. Messages that haven’t been deleted directly from WhatsApp can be re-downloaded. This might be an inconvenience, but WhatsApp users who wish to retain the ability of downloading deleted media in the future, must never delete such messages from within the application.

How Can WhatsApp Users Re-Download Old Deleted Media?

To understand the process, users must exercise caution while deleting the messages in the first place. WhatsApp can re-download only that media which the user deleted from the device’s storage. In other words, users can recover the multimedia content only if they deleted the same using the phone’s default apps that handle such content.

Images, GIFs, and videos downloaded through WhatsApp can also be accessed through the gallery or file manager of the Android or iOS device. They show up in “Media” folder in the main WhatsApp folder. This technique has always been a fun way to watch old downloaded content. When the user deletes this content, the corresponding message in WhatsApp shows a blurred thumbnail. Previously, when users tapped on such multimedia, WhatsApp would throw a disappointing, “Sorry this media doesn’t exist on your internal storage.” message.

WhatsApp Update Now Offers A Download Button For Deleted Media Messages

Instead of the message about missing media, WhatsApp now allows users to re-download the content. The functionality works for images, GIFs, videos, audio, and documents. Hence users can recover media they accidentally deleted. It appears WhatsApp stores a copy of the content on its internal servers. If requested, it allows the media to be downloaded again.

The process is fairly simple to understand, but cumbersome to adhere to. In order to have the ability to re-download multimedia messages, users must never delete the content or the associated message from within WhatsApp. If deleted through this technique, the multimedia becomes inaccessible. The only way to retrieve such content is by requesting the person who originally sent the message.

“Next” Allows Hiding Messages In WhatsApp:

After first showing up in the beta version of WhatsApp, the app now offers the “Next” feature in the stable release. Essentially, the feature lets users hide downloaded media from their phone’s gallery. In other words, WhatsApp now allows users to control the multimedia content’s behavior outside the app. The new addition can alter the setting per chat, be it with an individual or within a group.

WhatsApp users receive a lot of multimedia messages daily. They can now choose the visibility of the content outside WhatsApp by changing the “Media Visibility” setting which is within the Chats heading under Settings. Disabling the setting will make all newly downloaded media invisible in the gallery of the device.

Incidentally, the setting does not apply to all the media that existed before this setting is disabled. Such content will continue to remain accessible and visible in gallery. To work around this limitation, users can simply delete such media from the gallery. This way, you will have a blurred thumbnail of the media within WhatsApp. The content, if ever needed, can simply be re-downloaded. Unfortunately, WhatsApp hasn’t confirmed the time-frame for which it continues to store the content. Hence exercise caution.

WhatsApp allows finer control of the “Next” feature. Users can simply open any particular chat session and go to chat or group’s info page. There, they have to tap on Media Visibility. By default, WhatsApp sets this parameter to “Yes”. But users can choose “No” to hide the content that starts to appear within the chat session.

Both the features should be available within the stable release of WhatsApp. However, as is the norm, WhatsApp is rolling out the features in phases. Hence users should be patient.