Sometimes you might want to read a WhatsApp message without having to immediately reply. Here's how to stop WhatsApp's two blue ticks and avoid upsetting anyone - how to read a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing. Also see: How to use WhatsApp Web.

  • Disabling ‘Read Receipts’ in your WhatsApp settings will disable the blue ticks feature that shows a message has been read
  • Aeroplane or Flight mode will prevent WhatsApp messages being marked as read, at least until you reconnect to the internet
  • You can also use the WhatsApp Android widget or pull-down the notification bar for sneaky ways to read messages without the sender knowing

By default, WhatsApp notifies both parties within a conversation about the read status of a message. It uses a tick system whereby one grey tick means a message has been sent, two grey ticks mean it has been delivered, and two blue ticks mean it has been read. This can't be switched off for group conversations, but for individual WhatsApp chats it's easy to turn off read receipts.

If you wear a smartwatch or activity tracker that is capable of reading your WhatsApp messages, you should check that it is not automatically opening messages and marking them as read. Read next: Best smartwatches 2016.

How to read a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing: Disable read receipts

If you dislike the idea of read receipts you can disable the option all together through the app’s settings - but this works both ways. If you don't want people to see when you've read their message, you won't be able to see when they've read yours.

Launch WhatsApp and tap the three dots icon at the top right of the screen, then choose Settings, Account, Privacy. Within this menu you’ll see the option ‘Read receipts’, which can be disabled by unchecking the box beside it. Also see: How to avoid WhatsApp viruses, scams and hoaxes.

How to read a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing: Aeroplane Mode 

If you want to keep read receipts enabled, but don’t want a sender to know that you’ve read their message, there’s another trick that can temporarily prevent the two blue ticks appearing. Also see: How to install WhatsApp on a tablet.

When you receive a WhatsApp message the notification will appear on the lock screen (if you aren't using the phone) and in the pull-down notification bar. Before you open the message, enable Aeroplane or Flight mode on your phone, which will kill your Wi-Fi and mobile data connection. WhatsApp won't be able to connect to its servers to tell the sender you have read that message. 

Once you have read the message exit the conversation and, in the Chats view, tap and hold on the conversation to access various options. Choose Mark as unread, then turn on your data connection.

Note, however, that we found this method gave inconsistent results across devices, and would recommend you instead turn off read receipts (as we detailed above), or look to our next tip.

How to read a WhatsApp message without sender knowing

How to read a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing: Android widget

There’s an alternative method that neither disables WhatsApp read receipts, nor disconnects your phone from the internet, but it applies only to Android users. To read a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing you can read a message using the WhatsApp widget. Read next: How to stop WhatsApp saving photos on your phone.

To add the WhatsApp widget to your home screen, tap and hold on a clear area of the screen, then choose Widgets. Keep scrolling until you find WhatsApp, then tap and hold on the WhatsApp 4 x 2 widget. The widget will appear under your finger; drag it to where you want it to appear on your home screen and then let go.

This simple, yet effective solution is great for ignoring a certain sender, but allows you to still use your phone and even reply to other messages without having to send read receipts to the sender you wish to ignore. However, note that you will be able to see only the message and any emoticons; images, videos and voice memos aren't supported by the widget.

How to read a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing: Notification bar

The final way you can read (or at least partially read) a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing is to read the notification on your lock screen or in the notification bar - but be very careful not to open it when you're trying to expand the notification (this will be supported only by some Android devices in any case). Clear your notifications after previewing the message to be on the safe side.

How to read a WhatsApp message without the sender knowing

As of 2016, WhatsApp is now completely free, it can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store for no charge.

Read next: WhatsApp ban: What you should know