Signal Now Supports Usernames

Signal is the gold standard for private and secure messaging, but it has always required you to share your phone number to start talking to someone, which can compromise your privacy unless you take additional steps. Signal is now rolling out regular usernames that can be used in place of a phone number.

Signal started publicly testing support for usernames back in November, and now the functionality is rolling out to all Signal app users. Your phone number is no longer visible to everyone you chat with by default, and instead, you’ll be asked to create a unique username. Your username isn’t the same as your display name, and it’s not a permanent handle—it’s more like an alias.

There’s also a new setting to prevent people from finding you based on your phone number, so they can’t start a new conversation unless they know your username. That might be helpful in cases where spammers can guess your number or keep finding it elsewhere.

Two smartphones showing a user editing their profile with a username and photo.

Signal said in a blog post, “All of this is optional. While we changed the default to hide your phone number from people who don’t have it saved in their phone’s contacts, you can change this setting. You are not required to create a username and you have full control over whether you want people to be able to find you by your phone number or not. Whatever choices work for you and your friends, you’ll still be able to communicate with your connections in Signal, past and present.”

Importantly, you still need a phone number to use Signal, so you still can’t (easily) use the service with friends or family members who don’t have cell phones. If you have young family members who don’t have phones, people using data-only SIM cards, or something else, you’re probably still limited to iMessage, Skype, Discord, and other services. Discord specifically is a great option for family group chats.

Signal’s username support is still marked as a beta feature, but it will be available to everyone within “the coming weeks.” You need to be updated to the latest iPhone or Android app update to see usernames and set your own.

Source: Signal Blog

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