Calling & Texting

How To: Set Custom Ringtones for Individual Chat Threads in Android Messages

Things tend to get noisy when you're in a big group chat, which is why the notification sound for that thread shouldn't be your standard, attention-grabbing ringtone. But you don't want to set the default notification sound to something too subtle, otherwise you'd miss messages that actually matter.

How To: Turn Off Amber Alerts on Your iPhone, Plus Emergency, Public Safety & Other Government Warnings

Amber, emergency, and public safety alerts on an iPhone are loud — startle-you-to-death loud even. They can happen at any time, day or night, and sometimes back to back when you're in a big city. Those blaring sirens can wake you from sleep, interrupt an important meeting, or disrupt an entire movie theater mid-movie, but you can turn most of them off if you're tired of hearing them.

How To: Turn Your Pixel 5's Camera Cutout into a Notification LED

The Pixel 5's beautifully slim and symmetric bezels don't leave much room for extra hardware like a notification LED. But with the Ambient Display feature and an inventive app, you can turn the display cutout for the front-facing camera into an animated notification indicator.

How To: Set Custom Wallpapers for Individual WhatsApp Chats So That Each Thread Has Its Own Look

One of WhatsApp's best features is being able to change the default wallpaper for all chats. There's no reason to stick to the default WhatsApp backgrounds when you can be texting over an image of literally anything. In a newer WhatsApp update, you can go a step beyond that by setting custom wallpapers for individual chats, personalizing every text thread you have.

How To: Pick Different Chat Wallpapers for WhatsApp's Light & Dark Modes for Even More Control Over Your Theme

If you're like me, you enjoy using your phone's dark theme at night and light theme during the day. When switching from dark to light and vice versa, many of the UI elements in supported apps adjust accordingly, but you have no control over what does and doesn't change. WhatsApp, on the other hand, does give you some granular control by letting you pick a chat wallpaper for each theme.

How To: Send & Receive SMS/MMS Text Messages from Your iPhone on Any of Your Other Apple Devices

One of the best reasons to enter Apple's ecosystem is iMessage, where you can communicate more securely with other Apple users and send and receive chats across all of your connected iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac devices. While those blue bubble conversations sync across devices, the green bubbles — SMS and MMS texts — remain on your iPhone alone unless you change a setting manually.

How To: Use Facebook Messenger's Hidden 'Vanish Mode' for Disappearing Messages Whenever You Want

Saving a chat's history is useful for finding valuable information later on or just reliving a favorite conversation from the past. Sometimes, however, it's good to delete chat threads, and it's even better to have them auto-delete right after you see new messages. While some apps have had disappearing messages for some time (e.g. Snapchat), Facebook Messenger now has it too with "Vanish Mode."

How To: Set Custom Chat Wallpapers in Signal for All Conversations & Single Threads

Popular chat apps like Facebook Messenger and (these days, sadly) WhatsApp might not cut it when it comes to privacy and security, but they sure do offer some fun ways to customize your chats. If you're worried that moving to Signal Private Messenger means you lose these features, don't — the privacy-focused app also lets you choose custom chat wallpapers for all your threads.

How To: Stop Incoming Calls from Ignoring Do Not Disturb on Your iPhone

Do Not Disturb is the best way to block out all interruptions on your iPhone without having to power down. All notifications and alerts are silenced, but the same can't be said for phone calls. By default, repeat calls will bypass Do Not Disturb, which can be quite frustrating when you're in a movie, classroom, or board meeting. It's good for emergencies, but not for people who can't take the hint.

How To: Pin Your Favorite TikTok DMs to the Top of Your Direct Messages Inbox for Quicker Access

Want quick access to message threads with your favorite or important contacts? Just pin them to the top of the conversations list. It's a common feature in many messaging apps, including Apple's Messages in iOS 14. While it's not particularly well-advertised, TikTok also lets you pin chats to the top of your direct messages inbox on Android or iPhone.

How To: Send & Receive Disappearing Messages in Your WhatsApp Conversations to Keep Chats Clutter-Free

Sometimes, keeping every message comes in handy. Maybe you want to relive fun conversations from months or years ago, or perhaps you need to recall a piece of data such as an address, name, or link. However, not all chats need to stick around forever. Whether you're concerned about privacy or just keeping your threads clutter-free, WhatsApp's "disappearing messages" may be what you're looking for.

How To: Customize the Quick Responses for Declining Calls in the Google Phone App

Google is making its Phone app, the default dialer for Pixel and Android One devices, available to many other smartphones via the Play Store. If you're enticed to replace your factory-installed dialer to take advantage of the spam-filtering capabilities, you don't want to miss out on other features like the ability to customize canned responses for declining calls.

How To: Get Back the 'Favorites' Phone Widget on Your iPhone's Home Screen or Today View in iOS 14

There are plenty of reasons to upgrade to iOS 14, home screen widgets chief among them. With that in mind, it's ironic that Apple placed so much emphasis on "widgets" this year when the new update removes a fan-favorite widget of the past — the "Favorites" Phone widget, which was accessible via the Today View or quick actions on the home screen. Here's how to get it back.

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