Steve May 3, 2022
how-to-prevent-whatsapp-from-saving-images-to-gallery

By default, WhatsApp saves received images and videos to your phone. This option can be extremely convenient, allowing you to easily save all the cool memes and group photos for later use. The downside is that your phone’s storage can quickly fill up, especially if you’re quite active on the app. In this article we show you how to disable WhatsApp from automatically saving photos to your phone’s gallery. Whether you own an Android or iOS device, you’ll have a firmer control over your device’s storage with this option turned off.

How to Disable WhatsApp from Saving Photos on Android

For WhatsApp on Android to not automatically save media to your phone, there are two settings you need to tweak. Note that you can disable these options only from the WhatsApp mobile app and not from the desktop client.

Turn Off All Media Auto-Download Options

  1. Open WhatsApp on your Android phone.
  2. Tap on the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner of the display.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Amdroid Dots Menu
  1. Select “Settings.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Settings
  1. Select “Storage and data” from the menu.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Storage Data
  1. Find the “Media auto-download” section toward the bottom of the screen.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Media Autodownload
  1. Tap on each option and untick all the media options, then press “OK.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Amdroid Uncheck Options
  1. Note that voice messages are always automatically downloaded, so you won’t be able to change that.

Disable Media Downloads

Follow the steps below to disable media downloads.

  1. As shown above, launch WhatsApp and go to “Settings.”
  2. Select “Chats.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Chats
  1. Find the “Media visibility” toggle in the list of options and turn it off. This will prevent newly downloaded media from showing in your phone’s gallery.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Media Visibility
  1. You can also opt to have WhatsApp not show downloaded media just from select chats by opening WhatsApp and tapping on the profile picture of the targeted contact.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Profile Pic
  1. Press on the “i” button on the card that appears.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Info
  1. Tap “Media visibility.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Media Visibility One Chat
  1. Select “No” in the pop-up window.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Off

How to Manually Save Images or Videos on Android

With this feature turned off, you may still want to save the occasional picture or video to your phone. Follow the instructions below to do that without much hassle.

  1. Open a WhatsApp chat with a photo or video.
  2. Tap on it to open it in preview.
  1. Press on the three dots in the upper-right corner.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Save Pic Dots
  1. Select “Save” from the menu that appears.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Save Manually
  1. The photo or video should now be saved to your gallery.

How to Prevent WhatsApp from Saving Photos on iOS

Just like on Android, you’ll need to disable two options on iOS, although in this case, for the second one, you’ll have to make sure your iPhone is not saving images to the camera roll.

Turn Off All Media Auto-Download Options

  1. Open WhatsApp on your iOS device.
  2. Go to “Settings.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Settings
  1. Select “Storage and Data.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Storage Data
  1. Find the “Media Auto-Download” section.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Media Autodownload
  1. Tap on all the options, including “Photos,” “Audio,” “Video” and “Documents” and set them to “Never.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Options

Disable Save to Camera Roll

On iOS devices, photos you receive via WhatsApp are also saved to the camera roll. Even with the feature above disabled, your phone may still be holding on to images. Follow these steps to prevent your iPhone from saving WhatsApp images to the camera roll.

  1. Launch WhatsApp on your iPhone.
  2. Go to “Settings.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Settings
  1. Select “Chats.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Chats
  1. Find the “Save to Camera Roll” toggle and turn it off.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Save To Camera Roll

How to Manually Save Images or Videos on iOS

Similarly to Android, you can still save the occasional picture or image, even if WhatsApp no longer saves ALL images to your Gallery.

  1. Open a chat in WhatsApp that contains the image or video you wish to download.
  2. Tap on it to open it in preview.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Tap Pic
  1. Press on the share icon at the bottom.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Share
  1. Select “Save” from the pop-up menu.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Save Image

Alternative: Turn on Disappearing Messages for Select Chats

An alternative to disabling WhatsApp from saving messages sent in SOME chats is to turn on the disappearing messages option.

  1. On Android you can do so by opening WhatsApp and tapping on the profile pic for a group or person.
  2. Tap on the “i” button.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Info
  1. Select “Disappearing messages” from the menu.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Self Destructing Messages
  1. Set the desired time for WhatsApp to delete the images and videos sent from the chat AND from your gallery.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Select Timer
  1. On iOS, you need to open a chat first.
  2. Tap on the contact’s name at the top.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Contact Name
  1. Select “Disappearing messages.”
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Disappearing
  1. Choose your preferred option.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Ios Set Timer

Keep in mind that even if WhatsApp initially saves the media to your phone, after the chosen time period has expired, it will no longer be available in your gallery.

Now that you’ve disabled WhatsApp’s auto option to save pics to your phone, you still have to deal with the media you’ve accumulated so far. You can easily wipe out all large files via WhatsApp’s settings.

  1. In the WhatsApp app, go back to “Storage and Data” as shown in the previous sections.
  2. Select “Manage Storage” at the top.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Manage Storage
  1. You’ll see a detailed breakdown of the media files you’ve already saved on your device.
  2. Tap on the “Larger than 5MB” option to view a list of large files you may want to delete to clear your storage.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Large Files
  1. Select the images you wish to delete by tapping on them.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Select Pics
  1. Hit the Thrash icon in the upper-right corner to delete them from your phone. You should have a bit more storage on your handset now.
  2. Alternatively, if you wish to delete only media associated with a certain conversation, you can do so by opening the chat in question.
  3. Tap on the three dots in the upper-right corner.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Photo Menu
  1. Select “Media, links, and docs” from the menu that pops up.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Media Links
  1. In the Media section, manually select all the images you wish to delete by tapping on them.
Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android Delete Media
  1. Press on the Trash icon in the upper-right corner.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I hide the WhatsApp folder from my Gallery?

Whether you’ve decided to allow WhatsApp to keep saving the images you receive or opted to manually save only the media that matters to you, a WhatsApp folder containing these will show up in your phone’s gallery. If you want to hide this folder, it’s possible. On Android, you just need to download a file manager/explorer app. Your phone’s default file manager might do the job, but in many cases it won’t.

An app such as File Manager will allow you to access your phone’s main storage. From there, find the WhatsApp folder and go to “Media.” Tap on “WhatsApp Images” and create a .nomedia file. Configure the manager to show you hidden files if you want to view them. You will no longer see the WhatsApp folder in your Gallery app.

Prevent Whatsapp Saving Images Android File Manager

2. Does Google Photos back up my WhatsApp files automatically?

Google Photos used to back up WhatsApp files automatically, but that’s no longer the default. If you want to reenable the feature, open “Photos” and go to “Library -> Photos on device -> View all” and select your “WhatsApp Images” folder. Toggle on the “Back up & sync” option at the top.

3. How can I keep my WhatsApp photos even though my phone’s storage is low?

You can regularly transfer your WhatsApp media to your PC by using a USB cable. Once you’ve secured your files, go back to your phone and delete the WhatsApp image and video folders. (They are separate folders in your gallery app.) To make sure your storage doesn’t fill up again, you’ll need to make these transfers on a regular basis. Alternatively, you can make a backup of specific chats (media included). Open a chat in WhatsApp and press on the three dots in the upper-right corner. Tap “More -> Export chat.” Send the exports to your email or to other social apps for safekeeping.

Image credit: Pexels

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Alexandra Arici

Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

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