iPhone Text Message Privacy: How to Turn off SMS Preview

Aug 12, 200721976Views213Comments

Update: The SMS Preview privacy issue is now resolved as of the iPhone 3.0 software update.

In my original iPhone review, I complained about having little privacy on the iPhone when receiving incoming text messages.

When you receive an SMS message on your iPhone, a preview of the message content pops up on the screen, and you can choose to either view it or ignore it. While this “SMS Preview” feature may be very convenient, it could be troublesome if a friend or family member is playing with your cool new gadget and a message you’d rather have remained private pops up on your screen — ouch!

iPhone SMS Preview

Well today I was browsing through the iPhone Settings menu, and I came across a “Show SMS Preview” ON/OFF button. The only problem is, the option to turn off SMS Preview is available only when you set a Passcode Lock for your iPhone via Settings >> General >> Passcode Lock.

Since I’d rather not have to deal with entering a password every time I want to use my phone, I set the Require Passcode field to “After 1 hour,” so that I’ll only have to enter it at most once an hour. Really, though, I rarely go 60 minutes without using my iPhone for something, so I’m hardly ever prompted for a Passcode.

Now when I receive a text message, the iPhone displays the name of the sender and “Text Message,” rather than an excerpt of the message content.

iPhone Text Message

I’m glad to have discovered this option, but I would really like to be able to turn off SMS Previews on the iPhone without having to set a Passcode Lock. What about you?

New: Has SMS Preview gotten you into trouble? Share your awkward or embarrassing stories here.

Update: A third-party app called Caterpillar solves iPhone’s SMS privacy issue. Click to read my review of the Caterpillar app’s Privacy feature.

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  1. I tried everything… There is no show preview option in my messaging settings or pass code settings. Anyone capable of helping me fix this matter? I don’t mind the pass code cause I use one anyway.

  2. Ho all u don’t need a work around go to settings notifications messages and click show preview to off. It will just show name and say text message. Spread love x

  3. This used to be the way I could turn off SMS preview on my iPhone 4 but after doing the ios5 download it is in settings then notifications then select messages then turn off preview.

  4. For the iphone 4 you can go into “settigns” “Notifications” “Messages” “Show Preview” “Off”

    1. OMG Thank you soooo much I just got an iPhone for the first time and I was like man oh man I better figure out a way 2 get this 2 stop if not I’m gonna have 2 return it cuz I don’t want everyone seeing my msg as soon as it comes through on the screen that is supposed 2 b locked so people can’t see my stuff :/ Tnx again!

    1. I spent hours trying to figure this out. I went on google and youtube and nothing worked. Then I read your comment and it worked! You saved my life and for that I will always love you!

  5. What needs to be done is come up with a private setting in text messaging with no extra cost to keep prying eyes out of your business.

  6. If your jailbroke download iprotect from Cydia it allows you to lock any or all apps on your phone.I have the private things locked like photos,texts,emails.

  7. NOTE THAT THIS IS ONLY A PARTIAL SOLUTION. This setting will only disable SMS preview when the phone is _asleep_, i.e. it is _locked_. So, it solves the privacy issue when you phone is lying around unused.

    It doesn’t change anything when the phone is awake. I.e. if you are currently using your phone, the SMS preview will popup as usual, regardless of this setting. If you give your phone to someone else to use (like to you child to play some games or to your spouse to take a picture), they will still see the full preview of the incoming SMS message, regardless of this setting.

    In other words, iPhone offers no solution for this SMS privacy issue. The only way to solve it is to use some third-party app.

  8. I too would like to have the senders name deleted from SMS alerts. Has a fix been discovered for this?

  9. I think the guy that sold me my i-phone is reading my texts via third party. He is a friend of mine, and since he sold me my phone, has all of my account information, including mother’s maiden name, social, etc. He knows things that I haven’t told him; things I’ve only discussed with a friend of mine via text, and she doesn’t even know him. Is there a way to block a third party from being able to read your text messages without your knowledge? I really need help here! Has anyone had this happen to them? Any help on getting this stopped would be appreciated!

  10. this is not resolved. there is no way to turn off the notification with an iphone 4 with using 3rd party apps/jalbreaking

  11. Hey I was wondering if their is an app or setting I can use so when I am texting other people can not see what I am saying. So it looks off or black to them but it is clear to me? If so please reply to this. Also, let me know if the only way is to get the screen protector that does that.

  12. I just resolved this issue with my iphone4. You have to jailbreak your phone. Then theres an program called iblacklist that you can get through sinful iphone repo. Download it and you can customize your settings for text messaging, phone calls and lots of other stuff. Works perfectly!

  13. I know,
    It totally sucks that it shows up the text message has arrived and especially from “whom”.

    It’s my biggest concern… It shows the name of a person from whom I got the message.. (I should get an option to hide that name)…

    On BlackBerry I used to just get a notification of new message text / email and that was good enough for me… as that way I never faced any embarrassing moment in front of my new girl friend… (especially any message from my ex) causes an issue…

    1. Did you ever figure a way to keep the name off the sms when it tells you there is a message? Mine used to just show the phone number for facebook if I got a message from that, but now it shows the person’s name. TMI!

      1. Hey Marilee,
        No I am still waiting for Apple to come up with an option to hide the name of the Person… instead just show… “New Text message”

        If you don’t save the number… then it will show the number on the screen… If you save that number as a part of your addressbook then it shows that name…

        Only thing I can do now… is rename the person to “News” / “Info” / “WeatherNetwork”…

        But I hate as this makes my life horrible…. when someone calls and see the name “WeatherNetwork” 😀 😀

  14. i would like to know how to put a password on my text messages so nobody can’t go thru my txts with out puttin the pass code can somebody help me out to show me how to put a pass code on my text message thing i know blackberry has this option i don’t know if apple subscribes this to there customers….

  15. If you have a jail broken iphone just download IBlacklist there are setting in there to allow this…

  16. I have version 3.1.2 and the above option seems to have been moved from ‘General Settings’->’Passcode Lock’, into ‘Messages’->’Show Preview’.

    Also the disabling of the preview is now not limited to the lock screen, another bonus :)

  17. You can stop part of your text coming up turn the preview off in the message settings you don’t need to use a passcode for that I do that but I like and prefer passcode for extra privacy

  18. Faketext is a hot new app that allow you to hide your real text messages on your iPhone. Check it out at, you can go there straight from your iPhone since it is a webapp and is free.

  19. There are certain people that send me pictures I’d rather no one see but everyone else who sends text messages is fine. I wish there was a way to just turn off photos completely for just certain individuals …So, the text part of the message could come through but the photo would not. Does anyone know if this is possible …or in the works for iPhone development? If not, it SHOULD be. It really doesn’t seem for how advanced the phone is, this would be very hard to do. Just writ a script for the phone that says “sender XYZ = block all incoming SMS photos” There, I just wrote your code for you.

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