Science

WhatsApp, Discord, and other apps that let you message yourself for peak productivity

The idea of texting yourself might seem odd at first—a sort of descent into madness as you abandon your friends and retreat into your own company. But sending messages to your future self is a genuinely useful option that more and more apps are now offering.

You can fill up your own private inbox with everything you already send to other people over messaging apps: Photos you want to remember, web links you want to get back to, notes that you have to follow up on, to-do lists, and whatever else you might want to keep track of.

An added bonus to texting yourself is that by using the right app, your messages will sync across multiple devices, ready and easily searchable on your phone or laptop. Even if you’re not fully convinced, we’d recommend you give it a try—you might be surprised at how helpful it is to strike up a conversation with yourself.

Why you should start messaging yourself

You can use the messages you send to yourself in whatever way makes sense for you. At the most basic level, they can work as reminders of items you need to pick up from the shop, movies you want to check out, people you need to get back to, dreams you don’t want to forget, or interesting places you want to visit, for example.

[Related: How to save your text messages from disappearing when you get a new phone]

Add in photos and videos and you can create even more detailed reminders. You might want to take a snap of a color scheme or an outfit you like, or perhaps you need to remember where you parked the car. Your phone is probably already well equipped with an image manager, like Google Photos or the iPhone’s Photos app. But there might be an image you particularly want to keep close at hand and not buried under all the snaps of your nephew’s tenth birthday party your family keeps sending you—maybe the scan of a receipt for a future insurance claim. Most apps also support audio, so if you’re not feeling like typing, you’ll be able to leave yourself voice memos.

You can also easily share other types of files beyond photos, videos, and audio clips in a conversation with yourself. Maybe there’s a particular work document you need to have handy, or you’ve received a digital ticket to a show that you want to be able to pull up quickly without digging through your email app.

Then there are web links, texting yourself is also useful to save articles you wanted to check out but didn’t have the time at the moment, to funny tweets, and specific URLs you need for work. As with photos, there are plenty of other ways to save and manage links on your phone, but your own messaging inbox is more immediate and has the added benefit of allowing you to easily forward those URLs to your contacts if you need to.

Many people already use an app like Apple Notes or Google Keep for these purposes mainly because they have more features and options in terms of sorting and organizing. But sometimes simpler and less cluttered is just better. You can use a message thread to yourself as both a random dumping ground or a hyper-selective list of priorities.

What apps to use to message yourself

WhatsApp has recently hit the tech headlines for adding a self-messaging feature. To use it, from the main chat screen in the app for Android or iOS, tap the new chat button (a conversation bubble icon) in the lower right corner. Your name might appear at the top of the list, but if it doesn’t, you can search for your cell number at the top of the screen—tap the magnifying glass to open the search bar. Once you select yourself, the chat opens.

Slack is another option. You can save files and links in a private chat to yourself, make to-do lists, and draft out messages before you’re ready to send them, for example. Open the app for Android or iOS, tap the new chat button (a pencil inside a square) in the lower right corner, then enter your own name as the person you want to chat to. On the desktop app and on the web, you’ll see your name as the first entry on the list of contacts under Direct messages.

The Facebook Messenger apps for Android and iOS also support conversations with yourself. Tap the pencil icon up in the top right corner of the main chat list, then pick yourself as the contact. You can treat this as any other normal conversation and add photos, videos, voice notes, emojis, and even locations that you want to call up again later.

To message yourself on Apple Messages for iOS, tap the button showing a pencil inside a square (top right), then enter yourself as the recipient. You can use all the features in Messages, from embedded video clips to memoji reactions. 

[Related: Make a Memoji that actually looks like you]

Not every messaging app has this function though. Over on Android’s default messaging client, Google Messages, texting yourself is not as practical. You can open a new chat and choose your number as the recipient, but you’ll get everything twice, so until they fix this, you might want to consider another app.  

On Discord for Android or iOS, you won’t find the feature either, but there’s a workaround—you’ll need to create your own personal server rather than a one-to-one chat, complete with channels and all the other server features. To do it, tap the plus icon in the navigation pane on the left, then choose Create My Own to get started. Just make sure you don’t invite anyone else.



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