What does ‘last seen’ mean on WhatsApp?

It's a status message that appears on your WhatsApp profile - unless you change your settings - but what does it mean?

Last updated: 21 February 2019 - 3.55pm

Instant messaging service WhatsApp has a lot to recommend it; easy to use and free on wi-fi, it’s now the most popular way to chat with friends.

But there are still some slightly annoying aspects to it. Like knowing that other people in the chat can see when you last checked WhatsApp via your ‘last seen’ status. So what is this exactly, and how can it be changed?

[Read more: How to delete a WhatsApp message forever]

What does ‘last seen’ mean?

‘Online’ and ‘last seen’ simply tell you if your contacts are online, or the last time they were using WhatsApp. Last seen comes with a timestamp which tells the person looking at your profile when you were last online.

Online means that the person has WhatsApp open in the foreground on their device and is connected to the internet. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will have read any message you’ve sent them.

Through your privacy settings, you have the option to control who can see when you were last seen on the app – however, it is impossible to hide your status when you are online.

[Read more: 9 brilliant tips and tricks for WhatsApp]

Why can’t I see another person’s last seen status?

There are a few reasons why you may not be able to see a contact's last seen status: they may have set their privacy settings to hide this information; you may have set your privacy settings to not share your last seen status (if you don’t share your last seen status, you won’t be able to see other people’s); or you may have been blocked by that person.

Can I change who sees my last seen status – or turn it off?

By default, WhatsApp sets your privacy settings to allow all other users to see your read receipts, last seen, about section and profile photo, and for your contacts to receive your status updates.

To change these settings, follow these steps:

On an iPhone - launch Whatsapp and then tap Settings, located at the bottom right. Tap Account, then Privacy. There you have the option to change your last seen status from Everyone to Contacts (so it’ll only be visible to your WhatsApp contacts) or to Nobody.

On Android - launch WhatsApp and tap the Menu Button then Settings. In this menu, tap Account, then Privacy. The option to hide your last seen status can be found here.

On a Windows phone – launch WhatsApp, then tap More (the symbol with three dots). From there tap Settings, then Account. Tap Privacy, where you’ll find the same options mentioned above.

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