Secure messaging service Signal now has a dedicated desktop app for Windows, macOS and Linux.
Until now, the only way to continue an encrypted chat from your mobile to the desktop was to use a Chrome web app. That app is now deprecated, replaced by a new, cross-platform Electron-based program.
Whether you’re cautious about Chrome or simply happier using chat services when they’re a little app-ier too, the new Signal desktop app should suit.
What Is Signal?
Signal is an encrypted chat app for Android and iOS. A WhatsApp alternative, Signal lets you send messages to other people using the service. It also lets you create and take part in group chats, and make voice and video calls to other users.
All chats are secured using end-to-end encryption. In-app codes allow you to verify the connection.
The service is not solely for the privacy minded and security conscious (though that’s its USP); Signal is a simple, easy-to-use alternative to other mobile-centric messaging services.
The New Signal Desktop App
“Experience private messaging with all ten fingers”
The new ‘standalone’ Signal desktop app is Electron-based (which won’t please everyone) but it’s an arguably more accessible approach than bring distributed through the Chrome Web Store.
The new desktop has all the features of the web app it replaces, meaning you can quickly pick up and continue your private conversations on the desktop.
It’s simple to use too. You have a list of chats on the left of the screen; click a conversation and the contents of it load on the right.
The Signal desktop app lets you:
- Read and send messages
- Send/set timer for disappearing messages
- Change theme (includes dark theme)
- Import groups & contacts
- Check/verify encryption keys
- Reset a session
Download Signal Desktop App
The Signal desktop app is available for Windows, macOS and APT-based Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Linux Mint. You can download it from the official website:
A Flatpak version (which would support more Linux distributions) is under discussion.
Remember: you need the mobile app too
To use Signal you must also install the Signal app on your Android or iOS device. Like WhatsApp, the services uses your mobile phone number for authentication.
Once you’re up and running you can go ahead and download the desktop app. Once installed, launch it. To pair it with your mobile device you need to open the Signal app on your phone and scan the QR code on screen.
If you find bugs do file ’em over on the app’s Github issue tracker.