5 Encrypted Messaging Apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad – The Mac Security Blog

Security & Privacy

5 Encrypted Messaging Apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad

Posted on September 28th, 2021 by Jay Vrijenhoek, Kirk McElhearn and Joshua Long

More and more people communicate via messaging apps, as earphone calls are seen as antique, and e-mail can be excessively complicated. Messaging has the advantage of being more colloquial than electronic mail, and more immediate.

Unlike in the early days of messaging, such as SMS and AIM, many of nowadays ’ south messaging apps are guarantee, with throughout encoding protecting your conversations. Messaging apps can be a capital room to send medium information to others, flush to send passwords or other exploiter credentials .
here are five fasten messaging apps you can use, on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, equally well as on other platforms .


Cost: release
Compatibility: macOS, io, iPadOS, watchOS

Offered by Apple, iMessage has been available on io since 2011, macOS since 2012, and watchOS since 2015. It is by far the most convenient way to securely send messages for users of Apple devices. Using end-to-end encoding by default, it is very secure. merely you and the person you ’ rhenium messaging can get to the contents of an iMessage conversation. More on iMessage security can be found in this Apple Platform Security document .
For Apple device users, setting up and using iMessage is very easily. Sign into your device with your Apple ID, or create a new one, and you ’ re dear to go. There aren ’ t many settings you can adjust. You can choose which earphone numbers and electronic mail addresses people can use to contact you. And you can enable or disable read receipts. On io, you can besides set a low quality persona manner, and you can enable text message forwarding, therefore master of science messages sent to your iPhone can be forwarded to your early devices. There are a few other settings for io and iPadOS, and if you have an Apple Watch, you can choose whether dictate messages are sent as text or audio, and set some default replies that you can tap on the riddle of your watch .
There are a couple of crucial caveats that may convince you to use an option chopine, however .
While the platform is called iMessage, the Apple app is called Messages. It ’ sulfur important to understand that you can send both iMessage (secure) and SMS (insecure) via the Messages app. You ’ ll know you ’ re about to send an iMessage if the round “ send ” arrow button is blue, and you ’ ll comment that your messages will have a “blue bubble” american samoa well. ( If your “ send ” arrow push button is green or your outgoing messages appear in a “green bubble,” this means your recipient role is not using iMessage. That means your text will be sent insecurely via the antiquated SMS system. This most likely means that the recipient has an Android or other non-Apple telephone, and can not use iMessage. )
You can choose whether or not to enable Messages in iCloud, so your iMessages can be recovered in subject you lose all your entrust devices. ( To find this jell, search your io Settings app for the word “ Backup, ” tap on it, and then look for “ Messages ” in the “ Apps Using iCloud ” list. ) Note that if this set is enabled, your decoding key is stored on Apple servers, which is less secure. You have no way of knowing whether the person you ’ rhenium messaging has this specify enabled or not. If that concerns you, then you may wish to choose another app below for .


Cost: free
Compatibility: macOS, io, iPadOS, Android, Windows, Linux

Signal is most well known for its endorsement by Edward Snowden, who says, “ I use signal every day. ” Signal uses end-to-end encoding to keep your communications secret and batten, including secret message and secret calling, and the Signal protocol is becoming a standard in message services ( WhatsApp, notably, has adopted the Signal protocol ) .
The frame-up and practice of Signal is very straightforward. even if you only end up using the io version of Signal, its security system alone might make it worth it for you. You can sync Signal messages across devices, on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, arsenic well as Windows devices .

Telegram Messenger

Cost: free
Compatibility:  macOS, io, iPadOS, watchOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Web

Telegram is very easy to use, and it ’ s available on more platforms than any other app on this list. It offers plenty of settings to set it up how you like it. two-step confirmation, password protection for the node, and respective settings to customize the look and feel of the chat are a few examples why Telegram is a big message app option .
It ’ sulfur identical significant to note that chat encryption is not enabled by default, indeed if you use telegram, make certain to initiate “ Secret Chats ” with your friends. The encoding that is used, once enabled, is based on the MTProto 2.0 mobile protocol. Telegram has been broadly criticized for a number of reasons. frankincense, although Telegram is good known and available on many platforms, it may be worth looking into other alternatives before deciding whether to use it.


Cost: free
Compatibility: macOS, iPhone, Android, Windows, KaiOS, Web

WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, started offering throughout encoding in mid-2016 and uses the Signal protocol. In cattiness of its ownership by Facebook—a party for which privacy is not a key feature—WhatsApp can be considered a batten messaging app. Your communications are encrypted, so merely you and the recipient role can see them .
While WhatsApp is not widely used in the United States or Europe, it is the overriding mobile platform for communication, commerce, and more in India, where it may reach 500 million users soon .
WhatsApp introduced a new privacy policy in early 2021, causing some alarm. Users who don ’ triiodothyronine accept these changes will gradually lose features until the app stops working. While WhatsApp conversations will still be encrypted, “ WhatsApp will be able to contribution drug user account information like your telephone number, logs of how long and how much you use WhatsApp, device identifiers, IP addresses, and other details about your device with Facebook. ”
While WhatsApp is available for macOS, the Mac adaptation is not very a stand-alone app. Your earphone must be on the lapp Wi-Fi network, and the macOS interpretation will not work if your earphone is not available .
additionally, when it comes to iOS support, WhatsApp is only supported on iPhone. It is not supported on iPad or iPod touch ( however, WhatsApp offers a Web app that can be used in a browser ) .


Cost: $ 2.99 one-off app purchase
Compatibility: io, iPadOS, Android, Web

Threema is an anonymous encrypted messaging platform. Threema does not link your account to your phone ’ mho SIM card, but to a Threema ID which is generated when you sign up. You can use Threema with an iPhone, iPad, or a express web version .
One singular advantage of Threema compared to the others on this list is that you can create an bill anonymously, and without having to provide a mobile earphone total. This gives Threema some extra recess practice cases ; for exercise, a parent can use it to securely message with a child who only has a Wi-Fi capable device like an ipod touch, iPad, or Android pad .
But there ’ s another way in which Threema is unlike the other apps listed above : you have to pay for it. A erstwhile purchase of the Threema app ( $ 2.99 ) gives you entree to the service. Because of this, fewer people use Threema. But if you have a modest group that wants guarantee, anonymous message, Threema might be for you. The company besides offers plans for businesses and organizations .


There are a few other guarantee message services, but many of them present issues, such as the dependability of their encoding, how they handle exploiter data, and their owners. here ’ s an freelancer comparison of a number of apps and their features. ( note that, of the apps we ’ ve listed above, that ’ s locate generator only recommends Signal and Threema. You can read the details and make your own decision. )
Messaging and electronic mail offer different advantages and disadvantages. You may besides want to use impregnable e-mail, and you can read our examination of three free dependable electronic mail services that protect your data and privacy .
In addition to using a secure messaging app, you should use an anti-virus and two-way firewall solution on your Mac to make certain malware and key loggers can ’ triiodothyronine monitor your chats. furthermore, in the event your Mac is lost or stolen, the use of magnetic disk encoding and a strong login password can prevent access to your communications and early data. On io, use a 6-digit passcode and TouchID. ( Apple ’ s io uses full storehouse encoding by default. ) additionally, you may want to use a VPN if the network or overhaul supplier are not trusted .
Using message, or any class of on-line communications, is not american samoa worry-free as it once was. however, given the improvements in security, there is much to be said for these apps. By using plug, encrypted messaging apps, you can carry on communicating with friends, family, and colleagues, knowing that your conversations remain private .

How can I learn more?

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About Jay Vrijenhoek

Jay Vrijenhoek is an IT consultant with a passion for Mac security research.
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