Telegram FAQ

This FAQ provides answers to basic questions about Telegram.
Check out our Advanced FAQ for more technical infomation.

General

Telegram Basics

Usernames and telegram.me

Security

Secret Chats

Deeper Questions

Your Account

Troubleshooting

Contact Telegram Support
Follow Us on Twitter
Facebook
Advanced FAQ


General Questions

Q: What is Telegram? What do I do here?

Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security, it’s super fast, simple and free. You can use Telegram on all your devices at the same time — your messages sync seamlessly across any of your phones, tablets or computers.

With Telegram, you can send messages, photos, videos and files of any type (doc, zip, mp3, etc), as well as create groups for up to 200 people. You can write to your phone contacts and find people by their usernames. As a result, Telegram is like SMS and email combined — and can take care of all your personal or business messaging needs.

Q: Who is Telegram for?

Telegram is for everyone who wants fast and reliable messaging. Business users and small teams may like the large groups, desktop apps and file sharing options. Those looking for extra privacy should check out our advanced settings and rather revolutionary policy.

In case you're into graphic communication, Telegram has animated gif search, as well as an open sticker platform. And if you want secrecy, try our device-specific Secret Chats with self-destructing messages, photos and videos.

We keep evolving — check out the blog and follow us on twitter to stay in touch.

Q: How is Telegram different from WhatsApp?

Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram is cloud-based and heavily encrypted. As a result, you can access your messages from several devices at once, including tablets and computers, and share an unlimited number of photos, videos and files (doc, zip, mp3, etc) of up to 1,5 GB. Thanks to our multi-data center infrastructure and encryption, Telegram is also faster and way more secure. On top of that, Telegram is free and will stay free — no ads, no subscription fees, forever.

Q: Which country is Telegram from?

Telegram does not belong to any country in particular. It is a global non-commercial project with contributors from all over the world.

Telegram‘s goal is to allow everyone to get back their right to privacy. We’ve built a free non-commercial service to achieve this. The project is distributed — Telegram servers, companies and people are spread all around the planet.

Q: Who are the people behind Telegram?

Telegram is supported by Pavel and Nikolai Durov. Pavel supports Telegram financially and ideologically, while Nikolai's input is technological. To make Telegram possible, Nikolai developed a unique custom data protocol, which is open, secure and optimized for work with multiple data-centers. As a result, Telegram combines security, reliability and speed on any network.

While the Durov brothers were born in Russia, as were some of the key developers, Telegram is not connected to Russia – legally or physically. Telegram's HQ is in Berlin.

See also: articles about Telegram

Q: Will you have ads? Or sell my data? Or steal my wife and enslave my children?

No.

Q: How are you going to make money out of this?

We believe in fast and secure messaging that is also 100% free.

Commercial companies frequently face the need to compromise their values for financial gain. This is why we made Telegram a non-commercial project. Telegram is not intended to bring revenue, it will never sell ads and cannot accept outside investment. It also cannot be sold. We're not building a “user base”, we are building a messenger for the people.

Pavel Durov, who shares our vision, supplied Telegram with a generous donation through his Digital Fortress fund, so we have quite enough money for the time being. If Telegram runs out, we'll invite our users to donate and add nonessential paid options to break even. But making profits will never be a goal for Telegram.

Q: What are your thoughts on internet privacy?

Big internet companies like Facebook or Google have effectively hijacked the privacy discourse in the recent years. Their marketers managed to convince the public that the most important things about privacy are superficial tools that allow hiding your online status, your public posts or your profile pictures from the people around you. Adding these superficial tools allows companies to calm down the public and change nothing in how they are turning over private data to marketers and other third parties.

At Telegram we think that the two most important components of internet privacy should be instead:

  1. Protecting your private conversations from snooping third parties, such as officials, employers, etc.
  2. Protecting your personal data from third parties, such as marketers, advertisers, etc.

This is what everybody should care about, and these are some of our top priorities. Telegram is a non-commercial project with an aim to create a truly free messenger, without the usual caveats. This means that instead of diverting attention with low-impact settings, we can afford to focus on the real privacy issues that exist in the modern world.

Q: How old is Telegram?

Telegram for iPhone was launched on August 14, 2013. The alpha version of Telegram for Android was officially launched on October 20, 2013. More and more Telegram clients appear, built by independent developers using Telegram's open platform.

Q: Which devices are supported?

You can use Telegram on smartphones, tablets and even computers. We have apps for iOS (6 and above), Android (2.2 and up) and Windows Phone. You can also use Telegram's web version or install one of our desktop apps for Windows, OSX and Linux.

You can log in to Telegram from as many of your devices as you like — all at the same time. Just use your main mobile phone number to log in everywhere.

Our API is open for developers, should you want to build your own applications for other platforms.

Telegram Basics

Q: Who can I write to?

You can write to people, who are in your phone contacts and have Telegram.

You can also select a public username for your Telegram account. Other people will be able to search and find you by that username — and send messages to you even if they don't know your number. You can learn more about usernames here.

Q: How do I know, who in my contacts has Telegram?

Your contacts, who have Telegram, are shown at the top of your Contacts. They also have pictures.

Q: How do I invite my friends?

iPhone: The basic invitations are simple SMS messages. They will be charged as standard outgoing SMS by your carrier (unless sent via iMessage). Naturally, you have other options to bring your friends here. Try sending them a download link via any other messaging service: email, Facebook, WhatsApp, an actual telegram — you name it. The link: https://telegram.org/dl/

Android: Open the app menu (swipe right in chats list) — Invite Friends. Then choose an application via which you would like to send out invitations.
Windows Phone: Go to Contacts — Invite Friends. Then choose an application via which you would like to send out invitations.

You can give your friends a telegram.me link with your username, so that they can easily find you on Telegram even if they don't have your phone number.

Q: What do the green checks mean?

One check — message delivered to the Telegram cloud and your friend has been notified, if he allows notifications.
Two checks — message read (your friend opened Telegram and opened the conversation with the message).

We don‘t have a ’delivered to device' status for messages, because Telegram can run on as many devices as you want. So which particular one would that check mean?

Q: How do I create a group?

iPhone: Start a new message (tap the icon in the top right corner in Chats). Then ‘New Group’.
Android: Tap the circular pencil icon in the chats list. Then ‘New Group’.
Windows Phone: Tap the “+” button on the bottom bar. Then ‘New Group’.

Q: What's a broadcast?

Broadcasts allow you to send the same message to up to 100 of your contacts at once. Unlike in a group, the recipients won't know about each other and will receive the broadcast as an ordinary message from you. Once a broadcast list has been created, it can be re-used to message the same set of contacts again.

To create a broadcast list:
iPhone: Start a new message (tap the icon in the top-right corner in Chats). Then ‘New Broadcast’.
Android: Tap the circular pencil icon in the chats list. Then ‘New Broadcast’.
Windows Phone: Tap the “+” button on the bottom bar. Then ‘New Broadcast’.

Q: Can I hide my ‘last seen’ time?

You can choose who sees this info in Privacy and Security settings (introduced in Telegram for Android 2.0, and iOS version 2.7.2).

Remember that you won‘t see Last Seen timestamps for people with whom you don’t share your own. You will, however, see an approximate last seen value. This keeps stalkers away, but makes it possible to understand whether a person is reachable over Telegram. There are four possible approximate values:

  • Last seen recently — covers anything between 1 second and 2-3 days
  • Last seen within a week — between 2-3 and 7 days
  • Last seen within a month — between 6-7 days and a month
  • Last seen long time ago — more than a month (this is also always shown to blocked users)

Q: Can I make calls or video calls via Telegram?

We are not working on these features at the moment.

Q: How can I use emoticons in Telegram on my iPhone?

We support emoji emoticons. Simply enable the emoji keyboard in your iOS device‘s Settings (General – Keyboards – Add New Keyboard… – Emoji). Then switch to that keyboard whenever you’re out of words.

Usernames and telegram.me

Q: What are usernames? How do I get one?

You can set up a public username on Telegram. It then becomes possible for other users to find you by that username — you will appear in contacts search under ‘global results’. Please note that people who find you will be able to send you messages, even if they don't know your number. If you are not comfortable with this, we advise against setting up a username in Telegram.

Usernames and search by username are supported in most of the official apps — you can set up a username in Settings.

Q: How does telegram.me work?

Once you've set up a username, you can give people a telegram.me/YourUsernameHere link. Opening that link on their phone will automatically fire up their Telegram app and open a chat with you. You can share username links with friends, write them on business cards or put them up on your website.

This way people can contact you on Telegram without knowing your phone number.

Q: What can I use as my username?

You can use a-z, 0-9 and underscores. Usernames are case-insensitive, but Telegram will store your capitalization preferences (e.g. Telegram and TeleGram is the same user). The username must be at least 5 characters long.

Q: Do I need a username?

You don‘t have to get one. Remember that Telegram usernames are public and choosing a username on Telegram makes it possible for people to find you in global search and send you messages even if they don’t have your number. If you are not comfortable with this, we advise against setting up a username.

Q: If someone finds me by username, messages and I reply — will they know my number?

No. Neither party will see another‘s phone number. This is similar to the case when you message a person who you’ve met in a Telegram group.

There is one exception to this: just as in case of all Telegram messages, if you have somebody‘s number saved as a contact and you send them a message, your number also becomes visible to them. Just like with SMS. This happens regardless of how you open the conversation with that person — via the contacts menu, global search by username, telegram.me link, or from a group’s members page.

Q: How do I delete my username?

Go to Settings and save an empty username. This will remove your username, people will no longer be able to find you via search. This will not affect existing conversations.

Q: What do I do if my username is taken?

Telegram usernames are distributed on a first come — first serve basis.

We understand that certain usernames are part of an online identity for some of us. If your desired username is already taken, we will be happy to help you acquire it, provided that you have that same username on at least two of these services: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Please contact our in-app Support if you have more questions (Settings — Ask a question). Notice that Telegram support is done by volunteers (so please be nice).

Security

If you are an advanced user, you may find our FAQ for the Technically Inclined useful as well.

Q: How secure is Telegram?

Telegram is more secure than mass market messengers like WhatsApp and Line. We are based on the MTProto protocol (see description and advanced FAQ), built upon time-tested algorithms to make security compatible with high speed delivery and reliability on weak connections. We are continuously working with the community to improve the security of our protocol and clients.

Q: What if I’m more paranoid than your regular user?

We've got you covered. Telegram’s special secret chats use end-to-end encryption, leave no trace on our servers, support self-destructing messages and don’t allow forwarding. About the only thing secret chats don’t have is cloud storage — they can only be accessed on their devices of origin.

Q: Get technical already!

Ok, you asked for it. We support two layers of secure encryption (server-client and client-client). Our encryption is based on 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, RSA 2048 encryption and Diffie–Hellman secure key exchange. You can find more info in the Advanced FAQ.

Q: Why should I trust you?

Telegram is open, anyone can check our source code, protocol and API, see how everything works and make an informed decision. In fact, we welcome security experts to audit our system and would appreciate any feedback (security@telegram.org).

On top of that, Telegram is a nonprofit messenger, so commercial interests will never interfere with our mission.

See also: articles about Telegram

Q: Do I need to trust Telegram for this to be secure?

When it comes to secret chats, you don‘t — just make sure that the visualized key of your secret chat matches the one in your friend’s secret chat settings. More about this below.

Q: What if my hacker friend says they could decipher Telegram messages?

Anyone who claims that Telegram messages can be deciphered is welcome to prove that claim in our competition and win $300,000. You can check out the Cracking Contest Description to learn more.

Comments on Telegram's security outside the scope of the contest are welcome at security@telegram.org

Q: Can Telegram protect me against everything?

Telegram can help when it comes to data transfer and secure communication. But please remember that we cannot protect you from your own mother — or any other people that get physical or root access to your phone.

If you have reasons to worry about your personal security, we strongly recommend using only Secret Chats in official or at least verifiable open-source apps for sensitive information. And don't root or jailbreak your phone.

Q: Why can jailbroken and rooted devices be dangerous?

Using a rooted or jailbroken device makes it easier for a potential attacker to gain full administrative control over your device — root access.

A user with root access can easily bypass security features built into the operating system, read process memory or access restricted areas, such as the internal storage. Once an attacker has root access, any efforts to mitigate threats become futile. No application can be called safe under these circumstances, no matter how strong the encryption.

Secret Chats

Q: How are secret chats different?

Secret chats are meant for people who want more secrecy than the average fella. All messages in secret chats use end-to-end encryption. This means only you and the recipient can read those messages — nobody else can decipher them, including us here at Telegram. Messages cannot be forwarded from secret chats. And when you delete messages on your side of the conversation, the app on the other side of the secret chat will be ordered to delete them as well.

You can order your messages, photos, videos and files to self-destruct in a set amount of time after they have been read or opened by the recipient. The message will then disappear from both your and your friend's devices.

All secret chats in Telegram are device-specific and are not part of the Telegram cloud. This means, you can only access messages in a secret chat from their device of origin.

Q: How do I start a secret chat?

iOS: Start a new message (tap the icon in the top-right corner in Messages). Then ‘New secret chat’.
Android: Swipe right to open menu, then ‘New secret chat’.
WP: Tap + in the chats list, then ‘New secret chat’.

Remember that secret chats are device-specific. If you start a secret chat with a friend on one of your devices, this chat will only be available on that device. If you log out, you will lose all your secret chats. You can create as many different secret chats with the same contact as you like.

Q: How do self-destructing messages work?

The Self-Destruct Timer is available for Secret Сhats only. To set the timer, simply tap the clock icon (in the input field on iOS, top bar on Android, chat info page on WP), then Set Self-Destruct Timer to a desired time limit. The timer is applied to a message the moment it is displayed on the recipient's screen (two green checks). As soon as the time runs out, the message disappears from both devices and leaves no trace.

Photos sent with short self-destruct timers (< 1 minute) can only be viewed while you're holding your finger on them — and we will notify both parties whenever a screenshot is taken.

Please note that the timer only applies to messages that are sent after the timer was set. It has no effect on earlier messages.

Q: What‘s this ’Encryption Key' thing?

When a secret chat is created, the participating devices exchange encryption keys using the so called Diffie-Hellman key exchange. After the secure end-to-end connection has been established, we generate a picture that visualizes the encryption key for your chat. You can then compare this image with the one your friend has — if the two images are the same, you can be sure that the secret chat is secure and no man-in-the-middle attack can possibly succeed.

Always compare pictures using a channel that is known to be secure — it's safest if you do this in person, when meeting offline in the real world out there.

Q: Why not just make all chats ‘secret’?

While all Telegram messages are always securely encrypted, messages in Secret Chats use client-client encryption, while cloud chats use client-server/server-client encryption and are stored securely encrypted in the Telegram Cloud (more here). This enables your cloud messages to be both secure and quickly accessible from any of your devices, you can also easily find them using server search — which is very useful at times.

The idea behind Telegram is to bring something more secure to the masses, who understand nothing about security and want none of it. Being merely secure is not enough to achieve this — you also need to be fast, powerful and user friendly. This allows Telegram to be widely adopted in broad circles, not just by activists and dissidents, so that the simple fact of using Telegram does not mark users as targets for heightened surveillance in certain countries.

Deeper questions

Q: Why not open source everything?

All code will be released eventually. We started with the most useful parts — a well-documented API that allows developers to build new Telegram apps, and open source clients that can be verified by security specialists.

Q: Can I run Telegram using my own server?

Our architecture does not support federation yet. Telegram is a unified cloud service, so creating forks where two users might end up on two different Telegram clouds is unacceptable. To enable you to run your own Telegram server while retaining both speed and security is a task in itself. At the moment we are undecided on whether or not Telegram should go in this direction.

Q: Can I use the Telegram API?

Yes. Developers for all platforms are welcome to use our protocol, API and even source code. Check out the Getting started section of the docs.

Q: Do you have a Privacy Policy?

Sure. Check this out.

Q: Why do you have two apps in the Mac store?

One is our native OSX app, the other is the OSX version of our multiplatform client— Telegram Desktop. Both are official. Both started out as unofficial apps by two different developers and vary in design and functionality.

The OSX app features native OSX design and supports secret chats. Telegram Desktop is optimized for photo and document sharing, sending long text messages and can work in a compact single-column mode. Try both and pick one that suits your day-to-day Telegram usage best.

Q: Can I translate Telegram?

Telegram is officially available in English, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, Arabic and Portuguese on all platforms.

We are gradually expanding the list of official languages built into the apps, but there are other options as well. Telegram apps support external language packs. The .xml files for the Android app and Localizable.strings files for iOS can be downloaded from this Transifex page. Of course, you can also change the language files in any way you like and thus create your own personal Telegram localization.

To apply an external language pack, send (or receive) the file via Telegram (attached as ‘file’), download it, then tap on it to see the menu (on Android: tap on … in the upper right corner of the doc bubble) then select ‘Apply localization file’. You will see a language selection menu with the language from the file as one of the options. Yes, this is damn tricky, we'll simplify the process in the next versions.

If you want to join our translation teams, please check out this page first:
Style guide for Telegram translators

Q: Can I help?

Yes, we are always looking for volunteers to help us with user support, since we are not a commercial organization. If you would be interested in answering questions about Telegram to users from your country, contact Markus Ra on Telegram (just add the number +4242 to your phone contacts and you should be able to see me).

Before you write to Markus, please check out the Telegram Support Initiative.
And no — he didn't create Telegram. He just wrote this FAQ.

Your Account

Q: How do I log out?

Remember, that you can use Telegram on as many devices at the same time, as you like. If you log out, you don't lose your cloud messages. However, you will lose all your Secret Chats and all messages inside them when you log out. Note that logging out doesn‘t trigger remote deletion of your secret chat messages on your partner’s device — to do that, choose ‘clear history’ first.

iPhone: Go to Settings, then Edit, then Log out.
Android, Windows Phone: Go to Settings, then Log out.

Q: How do I change my phone number?

You can change your number in Telegram and keep everything, including all your contacts, messages and media from the Telegram cloud, as well as all your Secret Chats on all devices.

Your mutual contacts (people in your contacts, who also have your number) will get your new number added to your contact in their address book unless you have blocked them in Telegram. This makes changing numbers even easier.

To change your number, go to Settings, then tap on your phone number (just above the username), then ‘Change Number’. If you already have a different Telegram account on the target number, you'll need to delete that account first.

Q: How do I delete my account?

If you would like to delete your account, you can do this on the deactivation page. Deleting your account permanently removes all your messages, groups and contacts. This action must be confirmed via your Telegram account and cannot be undone.

We recommend using a non-mobile browser for this process.
Note that you'll receive the code via Telegram and not an SMS.

Q: What happens if I delete my account?

As was just mentioned above, all your data will be flushed from our system: all messages, groups and contacts associated with your account will be deleted. That said, your contacts will still be able to chat in the groups that you have created and they will still have their copy of the messages you sent them. So if you want to send messages that can vanish without a trace, try using our self-destruct timer instead.

Termination of a Telegram account is irreversible. If you sign up again, you will appear as a new user and will not get your history or contacts back. People, who have your phone number in their contacts, will be notified. The new user will be a separate conversation in their messages list and their conversation history with this new user will be empty.

Q: How does account self-destruction work?

Telegram is not a commercial organization and we value our disk space greatly. If you stop using Telegram and do not login for at least 6 months, your account will be deleted along with all messages, media, contacts and every other piece of data you store in the Telegram cloud. You can change the exact period after which your inactive account will self-destruct in Settings.

This feature was introduced on November 19, 2014. Since the default self-destruct setting for Telegram accounts is 6 months, accounts that have last been active before November 19, 2014 will self-destruct on May 19, 2015.

Q: My phone was stolen. What do I do?

First of all, sorry about your phone. Unfortunately, the phone number is the only way for us to identify a Telegram user at the moment. We don‘t collect additional information about you, so whoever has the number, has the account. This means, we can’t wipe your data, unless you have access to your Telegram account from at least one of your devices. Note that the account will automatically self-destruct after a period of inactivity.

Things will get better when we will have introduced additional passwords for Telegram accounts, but for now you'll need to follow these steps:

  1. First and foremost, you need to contact your phone provider, so that they block your old SIM and issue a new one with your number.
  2. If you are logged in to Telegram on any of your other devices, go to Settings — Terminate all other sessions. This will log out all other devices. If the old SIM has been blocked by this time, nobody can access your data. You can resume ordinary Telegram usage.
  3. If you are not logged in to Telegram, wait till you receive your new SIM with the old number, log in to Telegram, then go to Settings — Terminate all other sessions.
Removing sensitive data

Common thieves usually throw out the SIM card immediately (the phone is harder to locate this way), then they wipe the devices and sell them, so there isn't much risk for the data in case of regular petty theft. But if you have reasons to worry about the data on the device, it is best that you wipe it remotely. You can read more about it here: Apple iOS, Android. Unfortunately this requires you to have prepared in advance for this scenario. You can also delete your Telegram account if you are logged in on at least one of your other devices (mobile or desktop).


Troubleshooting

Login and SMS

Please make sure you are entering your mobile phone number in the international format. I.e.: +(country code)(city or carrier code)(your number).

If you are having registration or login problems, please contact us using this form.

Notification problems

iPhone:

  1. Go to Telegram Settings — Notifications and Sounds, make sure that notifications are ON in Telegram.
  2. Check that notifications are ON in phone Settings.
  3. Check, whether contact or group is muted.
  4. Shut down Telegram (go to home screen, double tap home button, kill Telegram (swipe upwards), then go to phone settings, set alert style for Telegram to NONE. Relaunch Telegram, go to phone settings, set alert style back to banners.

Android:

We currently have two types of notifications on Android: GCM and our own custom notification service that is independent from Google. Note that Google notifications (GCM) just won‘t work properly on some Android devices. The Telegram notification service is reliable, but requires additional battery resources. It doesn’t and shouldn't take much though, so please report all drastic battery-draining cases immediately.

  1. Go to Telegram Settings — Notifications and Sounds, make sure that notifications are ON.
  2. Check, whether contact or group is muted.
  3. If the Telegram Notifications Service is disabled, make sure Google Play Services are installed on your phone.

Windows Phone:

  1. Go to Telegram Settings — Notifications and Sounds, make sure that notifications are ON in Telegram.
  2. Check that notifications are ON in phone Settings.
  3. Check, whether contact or group is muted.
  4. Shut down Telegram (hold back button, kill Telegram (swipe downwards), then go to phone settings, notifications and actions, deactivate Telegram. Relaunch Telegram, go to phone settings, notifications and actions, set alert back to ON.

Problems with contacts

If you know your friends have Telegram, but you can't see them — or they appear as numbers instead of names.

iPhone:

  1. Force quit the app (double tap home button, then swipe up on Telegram), then relaunch and check if it helped.
  2. If that doesn't help, temporarily change the name of the contact in phone contacts (add a few symbols, then change back again).
  3. If that doesn’t work, re-login: Settings – Edit – Log Out. Remember that logging out kills all your Secret Chats. Then log in again.

Android:

  1. Make sure you are using the latest version of the app.
  2. Relaunch the app (by terminating it from processes list and launching again).
  3. Temporarily change the name of the contact in phone contacts (add a few symbols, then change back again).
  4. If that didn't help, try to re-login.

Windows Phone:

  1. Make sure you are using the latest version of the app.
  2. Relaunch the app (hold back button, swipe downwards to kill Telegram, then launch again).
  3. Temporarily change the name of the contact in phone contacts (add a few symbols, then change back again).
  4. If that didn't help, try to re-login.

Where did my Secret Chat messages go?

Secret Chats are established between the two devices they were created on. This means that all those messages are not available in the cloud and cannot be accessed on other devices.

Moreover, Secret Chats are also tied to your current login session on the device. If you log out and in again, you will lose all your Secret Chats.

Can't send photos or set profile pictures — iPhone

Please make sure Telegram has access to your Photos.
Go to your iPhone's Settings — Privacy, then find Telegram in the list and set in to ON.


Telegram Support

If you have any other questions, do contact Telegram Support (in Telegram go to Settings — Ask a question). Please note that support is done by volunteers.

If you can't log in to your account, please use this form.

Twitter?

Yessir. Follow us! @telegram
Our twitter account in Spanish: @telegram_es
In Italian: @telegram_it
In Korean: @Telegram_kr
For users from Brazil: @Telegram_br
Our Arabic-speaking users may find @telegram_arabic more interesting.

Facebook?

We do have a Facebook page, but that one is mostly to get rid of impostors (work in progress). Here it is, just in case: https://www.facebook.com/tlgrm.

If anyone else on Facebook is telling you they're us, they are not.