iPhone Text Message Privacy: How to Turn off SMS Preview

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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how do you do this on iphone5s

Nvm… Found it. Thanks.

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.

Robyn Christopher

How do you do this on iPhone 4s?


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


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.


Awesome!! Thank you!


I can’t mine to work, it still shows the mess . Any suggestions to get this sorted.

For ios 5.0 go to settings>notification>messages and make your selection there.


i cant receive text through my phone,why?


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


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!


Thank you! Saved me!


iPhone 4 ..go to settings then notifications SMS preview option is there


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!


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.


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.

guys , here is the solution

No pass code required… just go to the Messages options, and first option at the top is what you are looking for.

Korben Dallas

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… Read more »