Signal is the popular encrypted messaging app that lets you send and receive encrypted messages across platforms, including Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. This makes Signal an excellent choice if you’re a Mac user or iPhone user that also wants to instantly communicate in a secure manner with someone else on a Mac, PC, Android, iPad, or iPhone. Signal also supports encrypted voice-over-IP for voice calls, image and media messaging, and a variety of other nice features for communication, and for maintaining some security, like auto-deleting messages.
If you’re on a Mac, or Windows PC, and you want to setup Signal on your computer to communicate with other Signal users, the walkthrough below will detail the process.
To get started you will need an iPhone or Android with a valid and active cell phone number, the Signal client for that cell phone, and the Signal client for the desktop. Of course you’ll need internet access on those devices too. The rest is easy.
How to Setup Signal on Mac
This will walk through setting up Signal messenger on the Mac, but the setup process is basically exactly the same for Windows PC and Linux as well, so if you want to set up the messaging client on another platform you don’t need to change much. Here are the appropriate steps:
- First, get Signal for iPhone or Android and set it up on your phone, it requires a phone number that can be verified and this is not optional *
- Next, download the Signal client for Mac
- Install Signal by dragging the Signal.app file into your /Applications folder, then launch the Signal app **
- Upon launching Signal, you’ll see a QR code, now you must go back to your iPhone or Android to complete setup
- Open Signal on the iPhone or Android, then tap on Settings (it’s the gear icon in the corner)
- Choose “Linked Devices”
- Select “Link New Device – Scan QR Code” and point the phones camera at the QR code on the Mac screen
- Once the QR code is recognized and the connection is confirmed, give the Mac an identifiable name, and that’s it
Now you’re ready to use Signal on the Mac! Or a Windows PC, or whatever else you set it up on.
Of course Signal is only useful if you have other people that are using it too, so if you like the idea of an encrypted messaging app for private or secure communications, then you’ll want to be sure you have colleagues, friends, family, or anyone else also sign up to use the Signal service. Signal is not able to send SMS text messages or iMessages, or use any other messaging protocol for that matter, it can only communicate with other Signal users, as any other messaging service would break the end-to-end encryption which is one of the benefits of using Signal in the first place.
* When setting up Signal in iOS (and probably Android), it will ask for permission to access your contacts and other information, but this is not necessary to grant permission if it is undesired, as you can manually add phone numbers and contacts to communicate with yourself.
** You may need to bypass Gatekeeper’s warning message depending on how strict your Mac Gatekeeper settings are.
Signal is said to be very secure with end-to-end encryption, though if you’re more of the “trust, but verify” type, and you happen to be a programmer, you’ll be pleased to know Signal is Open Source software and thus you can dig around in the Signal source code if you feel like checking it out.