WhatsApp is one of the biggest instant messaging platforms on the planet, and like all major services it has found that you can't keep everyone happy. While some features like video calling have been welcomed by users, that hasn't always been the case with every update - such as read receipts.

A while ago, WhatsApp introduced read receipts to let the sender know once their message has been viewed by the recipient. While some users reacted positively, others disliked the idea. We assume those are the kind of people that like to read and not reply to messages.

But what can you do if you want to peek at an unread WhatsApp message and not let the sender know you've seen it? Where there's a will, there's a way.

How to peek at WhatsApp messages without opening them

So, how can you peek at WhatsApp messages without opening them, and without WhatsApp marking the recipient's message as 'read'? We're going to use the preview feature that was introduced as part of 3D Touch (first enabled on the iPhone 6s) and continued as part of Haptic Touch on the iPhone XR and later.

How to read WhatsApp messages secretly without opening them

Assuming you've got an iPhone 6s or later, follow these instructions:

  1. Make sure WhatsApp is up to date. WhatsApp introduced 3D Touch capabilities back in 2015, so you should be fine - anything higher than WhatsApp 2.12.11 will do.
  2. Instead of tapping on the conversation, we're going to do a hard press (on a 3D Touch device) or a long press (for Haptic Touch). Tap and hold the conversation, applying slightly more force if nothing happens. Before long a 'peek' window will appear, giving you a quick glance at the conversation without triggering a read receipt. Stop pressing and feast your eyes on the message.
  3. Tap the peek window to 'pop' it to full-screen, or tap outside the window to close it. Doing the latter will not mark your message as 'read' on the recipient's phone, allowing extra time to reply without the pressure of the person knowing you've seen the message.

It's worth noting that WhatsApp also allows you to mark a conversation as unread once you've opened it, but this doesn't affect the read receipt status - if you open it, the sender will know.

For related advice, read How to set up WhatsApp Web on your iPhone. And did you know that you can do video chats too? For advice on that, see How to make a video call on WhatsApp.