How to create a Signal chat to talk with individuals or groups on the secure messaging platform

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The secure messaging app Signal is private enough to get praise from cybersecurity experts and simple enough for anyone to use. People love it because every message sent on Signal is end-to-end encrypted and its open-source code means people have been testing its weaknesses for years.

End-to-end encryption works by converting the sender’s message into code that only the intended recipient’s device can translate back into the message. On Signal, group chats are encrypted too.

You can easily set up regular group chat, or “Legacy Group” chats, in Signal. They’re called “Legacy Groups” because Signal recently updated its features in a beta version to create “New Groups,” which have features like admins, mentions, and group updates.

How to create a Legacy Group (or regular) chat on Signal

“Legacy Group” chats are groups of users who haven’t downloaded Signal’s newest beta version. That means extra features like group admins and mentions will not be available. The update is not a must.

1. Open Signal and tap the pencil icon, or “Compose” button, in the top right hand corner.

Vivian McCall/Business InsiderTap the pencil icon to start a new chat.

2. Search through your contacts for group members or add them by number. Once you have your group, hit “Next.”

Vivian McCall/Business InsiderAdd group members and tap ‘Next.’

3. Name your group, and add a photo if you’d like.

4. Tap “Create.” Now, any group member can start messaging.

Vivian McCall/Business InsiderName your group and tap ‘Create.’

How to create a New Group (beta) chat on Signal

To create a “New Group” chat with Signal’s latest features, you’ll first have to update to the latest beta version on both your phone and any devices linked to your account (like a desktop). With the beta version, chats function more like private chat rooms. You can designate admins and send invitations for your group. There’s also mentions, which allow you to @ a specific member of the group, much like Slack. Admins can also set a timer on disappearing messages. Beta users can only set up these new kinds of chats with other beta users.

How to update Signal on iOS

1. Download the TestFlight app from the App Store.

Vivian McCall/Business InsiderDownload the TestFlight app from the app store.

2. If the update doesn’t appear on TestFlight, visit this support page.

3. Tap “Join and Get Started with the Beta.”

Dave Johnson/Business InsiderSelect ‘Join and Get Started with the Beta.’

4. Under iOS, tap “Join Directly through the App store page and TestFlight app.”

Vivian McCall/Business InsiderSelect the link to ‘Join directly through the App store page and TestFlight app.’

How to update Signal on Android, and start a New Group chat on Android or iOS

1. If you’re an Android user, subscribe to the beta channel on Google Play.

2. In Signal, tap the pencil icon, or “Compose” button, in the top right hand corner.

3. Select “New Group.”

4. Select new group members from your contacts or add numbers. Remember, only beta users will be able to join New Groups.

5. Name the group and add an avatar from your camera roll.

6. If a banner for “Legacy Group” appears, hit “Learn More” to see which contacts don’t have the beta. If they’re there, remove them.

7. Tap “Create” to start a group. This will send an invitation to members. They may need to accept that invitation before sending a message. Groups are currently capped at 150 members.

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